Kid Stuff

Children's Transportation

Many parents complain that they feel like taxi services for their kids. One mother, Tracey Welson-Rossman of Marlton, New Jersey, decided that wasn't such a bad idea: As owner of a kids' taxi service, she now gets paid to do what so many soccer moms do for free.

Welson-Rossman isn't alone. A growing number of entrepreneurs are putting the pedal to the metal and starting their own independent transportation services. KangaKab Inc., the $300,000-a-year business Welson-Rossman operates with her husband, accountant Steve Rossman, ferries youngsters aged 21¦2 years and older to day-care centers, schools, activity centers and summer camps in areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Youngsters and their parents can count on the white van with its navy-blue and mint-green logo to escort them to pre-arranged destinations between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, at $6.50 per ride. During off-peak hours, KangaKab also transports groups of senior citizens to church, the movies and senior centers. "You're not making money if the van is sitting," says Welson-Rossman, a former store department manager.

Working parents love the convenience of the service; for many, it's a necessity to get their children to school. "More people are sending their kids to private schools," Welson-Rossman says, "some public school districts are cutting back on busing, and in this day and age, it's not safe to let children walk a mile or more."

The Rossmans purchased an existing KangaKab service in New Jersey in February 1996; in September 1997, they started another branch in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. Start-up costs--including vans, office equipment, insurance, rent and salary for a driver--run about $45,000, according to Welson-Rossman, whose business employs 10 people.

The most successful kids' cab companies are located in areas with a concentrated population. It's also important for owners and drivers to like kids, because sometimes things don't go according to plan . . . like the day one young passenger vomited in a KangaKab van, prompting all the other children to throw up, too. Despite the occasional unsettled stomach, the business gives Welson-Rossman a feeling of satisfaction, because she knows she's providing a needed service.

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Kid Stuff.

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