After three years of training and preparing to race her Porsche Boxster at autocross events, Cassandra Rife has taken her racing enthusiasm and need for speed to a new level.
In September 2007, the 25-year-old Henrietta resident founded Radars for Rent Inc., a company that rents radar detectors, devices capable of detecting police radar while driving.
“I have owned one of the top-of-the-line (radar detectors) for two years now. And in that time I have had almost every friend of mine ask to borrow it,” Rife says. “Jokingly one day I said I should start charging for this.
“Then later that night my brain starts going and the wheels start spinning and a year and a half later here I am doing that.”
At the time, she was working as a receptionist for an accounting firm. Rife since has left that job and now works as a freelance graphic designer while also operating her mostly Internet-based new venture from her home.
Radars for Rent-which may be the only business of its kind in the nation, according to Rife’s research-rents several models of radar detectors for seven-day intervals. Prices start at $45 for the week and include two-day shipping and insurance. The service appeals to various drivers, but especially to those who are planning to travel and do not want to spend upwards of $450 to buy their own detector.
As the company’s sole employee, Rife wears many hats, she says.
“Being a young entrepreneur, it’s tough,” she acknowledges. “You’ve got to learn accounting. You’ve got to learn legal stuff.
“You’ve got to learn everything because you’re the only one looking out for you.”
The local chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives was instrumental in pushing Rife to pursue her dream and building her confidence, she says, because even in the company’s short history it has hit some speed bumps.
“The very first month that I incorporated was right before the tax year and New York State wanted so much money from me,” she recalls. “I’m starting from nothing.
“I don’t have $400 to give you when I’ve been in business two months and I haven’t made a single sale.”
Though Radars for Rent is not quite paying the bills yet, Rife expects to break even in the next few months. Through mostly word-of-mouth advertising, as well as wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts with the company’s Web site emblazoned across them, business has picked up immensely, she says.
Rife also does some Web-based advertising and has vinyl clings with the company’s name on them for her car.
While the company’s demographic tends to be males between the ages of 16 and 35, the devices appeal to a wide range of drivers. Rife’s grandmother, who lives in California, recently rented one for a road trip.
Radar detectors are not just for people who want to avoid speeding tickets, Rife says.
“I feel they make you a more aware and more competent driver,” she explains, adding that the detectors act as a reminder to pay attention to your driving.
Adds Rife: “If everybody’s a little more aware, then everybody’s a little more safe. Being part of the car community, I would really like to see the roads be safer for everybody.”
Now that she is beyond the difficulties she experienced when she started Radars for Rent, Rife says the everyday obstacles she faces running a business seem minor.
“I feel like I’ve tackled the hard stuff,” she says. “If you can get through the planning and finding the finances for it, you’re golden.”
Because this is her first entrepreneurial effort, Rife says everything about Radars for Rent is new and exciting.
“Everything is a learning experience and I really thrive on that,” she says. “It’s been extremely rewarding. As hard as it is sometimes, as frustrated as I get sometimes, I will always look back and say this was the best thing I ever did.”
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04/25/08 (C) Rochester Business Journal