Continuing with the Small Business Week celebration, we want you to know a little bit more about one of our LEAPers,
Dennis Ho, who has been a licensed automotive service technician since 2014, and now is running Wheel Easy, a Mobile Tire service company.
Dennis studied Motive Power Technology at Fanshawe College and has taken some entrepreneurship courses at Ivey Business School. He joined the LeapIN Accelerator Program in 2022 and since then, his idea has evolved to its current form - Wheel Easy Mobile Tire Service.
WHEEL EASY - Dennis Ho
Hello, my name is Dennis Ho. I graduated from Fanshaw College Motive Power Technology in 2011 and now I'm running Wheel Easy Mobile Tire Service.
1. What sparked the idea to start your own business?
So, I spent a lot of time working in the shop in the past and through a lot of interactions with customers I realized a lot of people have challenges coordinating, getting their winter tires installed on their vehicle. So, you know you might have multiple vehicles, might have to take a day off work or even waste an entire Saturday. So, we figured that offering mobile service and coming to people's homes to do this type of work would make life a lot easier for them.
2. When did you identify the opportunity?
I had encountered a lot of customers in the past who I realized had challenges with getting the car to the shop and then also throughout my time in university. I also had spent a lot of time going to my friend's house, parents and friends’ houses to do the tire swap for them and realized it made life a lot easier for them, so trying to make a business case out of understanding this opportunity and trying to leverage that and offer a service that made life easier for people I found was a great opportunity.
3. How many hours per day and per week did you work during the first stage?
So early in the business I had started this while I was back in a university program, so I had spent probably 10 hours per week trying to work on marketing efforts and actually going out to do the work. As time passed on, I would spend more and more time. You know, as school started to wrap up, I was able to spend even more than 20 - 30 hours per week, really focusing more on developing the operations side of the business, but also trying to fill the gap marketing wise and make more people aware of our service as well.
4. How did you find out about LEAP Junction? How have they supported you in your business development?
It was really lucky the way I found out about LEAP Junction, I had just randomly encountered this Interrobang newsletter, opened it up and saw the LEAP Junction program being offered. I was a Fanshawe / graduate so I thought I might reach out and inquire about it. I connected with Kelsey Curry early on, and she encouraged me to apply and I did it, that's how I got into the LeapIN Program.
LEAP has really supported me in a lot of ways, really giving us access to a lot of industry mentors and experts in the area; also the opportunity to build my network through a lot of other entrepreneurs as well as at Fanshawe College here as well. So, I had gotten the opportunity to be a part of the Fanshawe works employment panel, had some chances to speak in classes to students, and that's actually where I had hired my first two employees from as well.
5. What does work/life balance look like to you?
Work life balance a bit of a challenge. I'm sure most entrepreneurs can relate to that. It's hard to try and spend time with the family and also, spend time building the business, which you might see is another baby of yours so, it's always challenging to make sure that you're doing the best that you can for the business and also making sure you have enough time for the other important things in life as well.
6. Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over?
The only thing would be probably starting earlier. You know, I find myself traveling down this path and I always think back in the past that if I had started earlier, maybe I'd be a little bit further along by now. So, definitely starting as early as possible would have been one way, I would have changed things a little bit so, I always think about this as you know, nothing to it but to just do it. There are a lot of opportunities out there, a lot of good ideas.
7. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business today?
I would say as an advice, just give it a try. There are a lot of ways nowadays to really start a business with very low upfront cost and not a lot of effort. You could create a website and get a domain name, and just start experimenting and see if there are people who are interested in your product or service. And as I said, I would have started earlier if I could. Just seeing how easy it was to actually get started and try and understand the market and understand if there is a gap that your product or service can fill.