How a 16-Year-Old Turned His First Car into a Revolutionary Startup
As an excited 16-year-old looking to get his first car, Haydn Sonnad set his sights on getting a Tesla. But for a car that starts at $70,000, Sonnad would need a plan to pay off the lease every month. Very soon, his plan would grow to become an incredible startup company and the first sustainable transportation network.
Sonnad’s company, Tesloop, uses his Tesla to create a continuous (and luxurious) transportation loop between Los Angeles Las Vegas, shuttling people back and forth and refueling at Tesla’s supercharging stations along the way. Sonnad told NextShark how he came up with the idea for his startup earlier this year:
“I got my license this spring and was looking for a way to get a car for the summer. I had seen that Tesla was offering a 3-month happiness guarantee for leasing a car and I figured if I could lease a Tesla, I could make enough money to cover the lease by driving people to Las Vegas. Since I’d have no fuel costs or staffing costs, this seemed to make great financial sense — where I could cover the lease and insurance and have some spending money left over.”
Sonnad then pitched the idea to his father, Rahul Sonnad, himself an entrepreneur and now a co-founder of Tesloop. His father liked the idea and helped him with a loan to lease his first Tesla which he planned to pay back with the money he would make from shuttling people.
From there, Sonnad and his father’s startup team went to work to launch a company with zero transportation costs (aside from buying the actual car) and whose resources, mainly electricity, are provided by Tesla for free at their supercharging stations. Because Sonnad is too young to drive other passengers, a member of the startup team drives the car back and forth.
Currently, Tesloop offers one route from Los Angeles/Orange County to Las Vegas for $85 each way. Tesloop has two cars in their fleet, but is currently planning to order more as they expand the routes that they offer.
Unfortunately, despite co-founding a company that gives rides to people in Teslas, Sonnad is still unable to drive them because of insurance reasons:
“Because this is company, we needed livery insurance, and I was too young to be covered. So I actually can’t drive the Teslas now. Kind of ironic.”
Unlike the trend of successful entrepreneurs who drop out of school to focus on their companies, the young Sonnad still plans to attend college for the experience as Tesloop grows:
“I plan to pursue education to the highest levels. Being only 16 years old, my life experiences are limited. Furthering my education through college and travel is a very important thing to me. Once I am fully educated, I hope to use my skills to pursuit numerous other passions and ideas.”
Earlier in June, Sonnad had the chance to meet Elon Musk, the man who made the creation of Tesloop possible, at a Tesla shareholders meeting. Sonnad explained to us how the tech billionaire influenced his own entrepreneurial spirit:
“Elon Musk has shown me that a single person has the power to be substantially transformative to the structure of the world essentially in space of automobiles. His ability to reform a failing system has given me hope and ambition that one day I can cause such a transformative change in the world’s structure.”
Now, Haydn hopes to do his part to fight global warming with sustainable, emissions-free transportation — Tesloop reports that they have saved 25 tons of carbon emissions by using the all-electric transportation. The best part about his plan, however, is that he just needs to follow Tesla’s lead:
“Tesloop also plans to expands into many other cities in the near future, such as LA to San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. From there, we plan to dynamically follow the Supercharging network.
“We’re also planning on launching a crowdfunding campaign soon, where people will be able to vote on which routes we should expand into next.”
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