There’s no question that it takes diverse businesses to make a vibrant city. And our LGBTQ+ business community is a part of what makes Seattle special. This month, Ventures is highlighting the successes, experiences, and impact of local, diverse LGBTQ+ business owners in our community. Today, we’re highlighting Repair Revolution, an auto repair shop in SODO dedicated to empowering customers and revolutionizing the automotive industry through radical transparency. Their mission is to build strong, long-lasting relationships with their customers and believe the most important aspect of their business is trust.
Eli Allison, founder of Repair Revolution, is a panelist for our upcoming event LGBTQ+ Business Founders Panel & Happy Hour on June 25th at The Riveter. Similar to Ventures’ mission to provide accessible small business services to marginalized communities, we’re hosting an affordable event that celebrates the successes and experiences of local, diverse LGBTQ+ business owners.
We got a head-start on our Q&A happy hour panel and asked Eli about their experiences, challenges, and thoughts about being a business owner.
Why did you come to Ventures?
Before finding Ventures I was working on my dream to open up an automotive repair facility that was radically different than what exists in the automotive industry today…I started working as a mobile mechanic going to people’s houses to fix their cars and simultaneously working away on my business plan to secure funds to have brick and mortar. Laying on my back getting rained on in city streets under people’s cars with wrenches in my pockets and a flashlight in my mouth was my strategy for starting to build a clientele.
I approached six different lenders that give loans to small businesses and got rejected all six times. I was continually told that I needed to drastically change my business model in order to appeal to the bankers. The suggestions the various lenders wanted me to implement were incongruent with my vision. I was very vocal about this frustrating process and two different people suggested I get involved with Ventures who offered classes and loan opportunities. I had become a business class taking junky by this point and was excited to hear that there might be one more lender in town that possibly would believe in me.
How has Ventures helped your business?
I signed up for the Business Basics Course. I was skeptical at first because at this point I had been to a lot of business classes and worked with a lot of agencies that are supposed to help entrepreneurs. I realized very quickly that Ventures was different. They were really in touch with what small business owners actually needed and they had a very holistic approach with lots of offerings for small business owners. Then I joined the Financial Management Course to learn even more about personal and business financial planning and in order to qualify for the IDA program. This was a Ventures program that encouraged business owners to build savings by matching funds 2-to-1. I got my IDA funds at a time in my business where we desperately needed new equipment and had no way of paying for it. This was a huge gift.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with us on June 25th! Join Ventures and Eli to ask questions, hear stories, learn how LGBTQ+ business owners navigate challenges and bias, and celebrate their triumphs, large and small. Tickets are $10 and include appetizers from Thyme Well Spent Catering, craft beer, wine, and a free raffle with prizes from local businesses like Elliott Bay bookstore, Poppy and Lionhead, Caffe Vita, Stoup Brewing, the GSBA and more. Special thanks to our sponsors queer / bar, SAP Concur, and The Riveter for helping make this event possible.In Our Entrepreneurs