Inspiration can strike anywhere when you're an entrepreneur. Inspired by a concept encountered one holiday, but unimpressed by the execution, Jamie Schachar saw an opportunity to do something much bigger and better based upon his own dream - and so GT Rush, a premium supercar experience, was born. Let's find out more!
1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
I strongly believe experiences inspire us. They fire up our creative minds, help us uncover new perspectives and provide us with our most cherished and long-lasting memories.
At GT Rush, we provide highly personal, guided on-road driving experiences in exceptional performance cars. We are passionate about offering a formidable alternative to the traditional track days by providing our drivers and their passengers with that special feeling of cruising around town with the roof down and the wind in their hair or the thrill of tackling winding country roads in the gorgeous English countryside. We bend over backwards to tailor the perfect ride for each customer while remaining grounded and offering good value for money.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
We are currently based in Marble Arch, in the heart of London. Harry, the first member of our fleet (yes, we name our cars), a 4-seater Maserati GranCabrio convertible, lives in his luxury pad underneath Hyde Park. We have to be central. Though a lover of cars myself, I found planning a day out on a track overly cumbersome, sometimes only to find the whole experience was over in 10 minutes. Our customers can get to us on the tube. If they’re coming into London to enjoy some of the treasures our great city has to offer, they can book the prior day to come visit us at a time which suits them. And when our customers don’t fancy cruising around town, we head out onto the motorway and into the countryside.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
Paris! I was on holiday there with my then-girlfriend (now wife) and we came across a few Ferraris and Lamborghinis parked just off the Champs-Élysées. I could drive a Ferrari for 20 minutes around Paris for only €89 and my wife could come along as a passenger – sweet! A bit tacky I know, but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by. A few years later as I deliberated over whether to leave the comfort of employment, follow my heart and build my own business, I thought back to that day. One doesn’t forget an experience, even if it had its flaws! I was convinced there was an opportunity to replicate the concept in London where nothing similar existed but I wanted to make (a lot of) changes and approach it very differently.
4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We had been trading for nearly one year. When I say ‘we’, I mean me and Harry. Having spent all those hours sat next to my customers chatting away on over 100 rides delivered to date, absorbing all that feedback, making countless changes and adjustments to the original business plan and model, and receiving an increasing number of excellent reviews on Tripadvisor, I knew we were on the right track. Now I needed to really get the word out and grow direct sales. Professionalising and expanding our marketing efforts via social engagement and digital advertising was going to require investment, an advertising budget, inspiration and support. The Virgin StartUp Loan scheme brought all of that under one convenient and highly qualified roof.
5. How have you used it to grow your business?
We engaged Uprated, a digital marketing agency based in Bournemouth in December 2016. They were quick to understand the business and our USPs. They took over the management of our paid search account and have significantly increased interaction rates and reduced cost per click. Through the use of recordings and surveys on our site, they also identified potential bottlenecks and quick-win improvement opportunities which we are in the process of implementing. With an upgraded website and increasing direct conversions via paid search, we will look to develop a targeted social media advertising strategy, including YouTube.
6. Who is your mentor and who else has helped you?
I have just been matched with my mentor, Sam Tilston, who has a wealth of experience in digital marketing, e-commerce and entrepreneurship. I look forward to learning from Sam and uncovering marketing opportunities that generate true ROI.
Now part of the Virgin family, I was fortunate enough to attend Scott Leonard’s masterclass on ‘How to build a knockout brand’ in London. As well as a great opportunity to meet, brainstorm with and learn from likeminded entrepreneurs, Scott inspired me to really question and remind myself why I set up GT Rush and why we are in business, breathing new energy and purpose into everything we do. Masterclasses such as this and the mentoring programme serve as important reminders that funding support is only just a fraction of the overall support Virgin StartUp offers.
7. Biggest achievement so far?
From a business perspective, having established channels such as Virgin Experience Days, Red Letter Days and Groupon quickly buy into and support or unique model has been incredible.
From a personal perspective, my biggest achievement is recovering from eight years stuck in a corporate / employee mindset, stepping out into the real world and (still) learning how to embody the spirit of entrepreneurship, while coming to appreciate what is truly important in life and what really drives us.
From a mission perspective, I would have to pick being able to provide a very special customer suffering from a life-limiting illness the opportunity to realise his life-long dream and enjoy a leisurely cruise around the sites of London under the Christmas lights in his favourite car.
8. What’s next for your business?
Big plans! With proof of concept in place, established channels and a solid ROI on direct sales, it will be time to grow the fleet and build a team that shares my vision, mission and passion. Long-term, GT Rush will evolve into a performance car club, where new customers and existing club members can return to drive the very latest addition to our fleet or attend our special and exclusive events. Further in the horizon, we will look to develop and offer other special and unique experiences to complement the driving.
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