Shanice Crawford, a Lehman College senior pursuing a double major in philosophy and political science, has been named the winner of LegalZoom’s first annual Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship Grant—a $5,000 award that will help her start a car rental business aimed at students working their way through college, like herself.
The grant from LegalZoom, a web-based independent attorney and consulting network, was sought by almost 200 hopefuls nationwide. Crawford and ten other finalists submitted business plans that were then judged on viability, scalability, and uniqueness, with consideration toward any local or social gain the business projects would contribute.
Along with the grant funding—an important financial boost that will make a difference in getting her business, which she is calling “Charlie’s Cabs,” off the ground—Crawford (nicknamed Charlie since birth) will receive a LegalZoom corporation or LLC start-up package, plus access to prepaid legal services and downloadable contracts.
“I understand first-hand the difficulties of being 100 percent self-reliant and pursuing a degree,” said Crawford. “At one of my previous jobs, I worked four 12-hour shifts only to have just enough money to survive and be able to dedicate time to my studies. I was at the mercy of my employer. But driving for rideshare company is different: you have the privilege to choose when you work, the duration of your work day, and what state you want to operate in. The liberation of having full control of your workday is astonishing. My business will make it possible for students to be their own boss and receive training while finishing a college degree. This will definitely lift some of the stress off working students.” The idea for Crawford’s business grew out of her own experiences as a driver for a rideshare company, a job that allowed her to maintain her Lehman College schedule and work when it was convenient to do so. But what about students who did not own a vehicle or were unable to afford the costly auto insurance rates placed on metropolitan New York drivers? If these intrepid students (with clean driving records) were able to rent a car, Crawford figured, they could participate in peer-to-peer ridesharing opportunities and earn money.
To facilitate her business, Crawford plans to rent cars and then provide clients with “mentoring” workshops aimed improving customer ratings and earnings. Drivers will be able to use the rental cars for various stretches of time, with customers provided through social media contacts, apps, and travel websites. Crawford expects Charlie’s Cabs to be open and operational next spring.
In addition to her rideshare driving, Crawford, a resident of Yonkers, NY, has also interned at a law firm, managed a fashion retail outlet, and worked as a corporate trainer while attending Lehman College. She transferred to Lehman after receiving her associate’s degree from Westchester Community College.