Matlhwane says he got into entrepreneurship when he ran and managed a family-owned liquor store for about four years.
“That’s where I fell in love with the whole idea of entrepreneurship. The business venture I took now came as a result of that experience,” he says.
Matlhwane spotted a gap for his unique car wash business idea when he saw a vast growth of car washes around Johannesburg.
“I started looking into the idea of having a mobile car wash service within a suburban area like Fourways, where Car Parlour is currently based. I’ve been servicing mainly closed communities within estates and a few cluster homes here and there,” he says.
Matlhwane started his business just under a year ago and cites finances as one of his biggest startup challenge. He struggled to find funding until the Awethu project assisted him, not only financially but also with other startup advice.
Start with something very simple, something very small, and something that won’t require you to spend a lot of money initially
“They assisted me in giving me the whole picture of how one actually starts out. A lot of people tend to think that they need to have a huge lump sum of money, but I was introduced to the idea that I just need to start with something very simple, something very small, and something that won’t require you to spend a lot of money initially,” he explains.
He was then given R5 000 as capital to start his business, and from that point on was able to purchase a pressure washer and a few other items that he needed to get the business running efficiently.
“Before I received the R5 000 head start, for the first few cars I washed, I literally used Sunlight soap and water because the people that gave me funding told me that I needed to start trading first before they gave me the grant. They said I needed to show some potential growth within the business,” he says.
Another challenge that Matlhwane has faced in his business is lack of trust from potential clients.
“People are used to driving out to car washes, so when a service can come to their home, a lot of people tend to think about their security and it’s hard to break through that barrier,” he says.
Matlhwane now employs two contract workers as he is also juggling business with his studies – he is studying for a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics. Matlhwane says that the business has grown but not at an exponential level, he’s still struggling to find more funding to go bigger and that’s another challenge he’s currently facing.
As far as the growth of his business is concerned, Matlhwane says that he’s looking into having traditional car washes that people can drive to. These would work together with the mobile service, he says. Matlhwane also hopes to expand into franchising his car wash business in the future.
“In five years I want to create a franchise within the mobile car wash business and to grow the traditional commercial car wash service,” he says.