Scott Deuty is the founder of Colorado-based Mini Monster Truck, a service that offers a kiddie ride towed by a go-cart that looks like a monster truck. “I offer something unique that no one else has,” he said. “I combine two of a child’s most coveted items, a monster truck and a train, for the ultimate kiddie ride.” The Mini Monster Truck makes the rounds at fairs, parades, and birthday parties.
To expand upon this business, Deuty has authored a series of children’s books called “The Adventures of Johnny’s Mini Monster Truck,” which aims to teach kids of all ages valuable lessons related to their healthy development. Ultimately, he hopes to use proceeds from the business to help kids in need.
From a Kids’ Toy to a Business Idea
I was a 30-year engineer with a master’s degree. I lost my job and the economy turned down. I had to turn to my reserves. I hung on to this monster truck I had built for my kids when they were little – They were monster truck crazy! I kept thinking it was marketable. Finally, the kiddie ride idea dawned on me. Then, the book idea dawned on me.
Financing the Business
It’s all self-funded. As soon as I make money, I put it back into the business. I was able to contract some of my other skills for the company. I put that money back into the truck.
This company has times when I make money and times when I need to put away money. I live in a place where there’s winter. Birthday parties and fairs are summer-oriented. I have to extend myself and fix the truck up in the slow times. I do all my repairs in winter and try to modify the truck because I want it ready to go in the spring. I try to build up inventory [of my books and other souvenirs] for the Christmas season.
I’m a cash upfront person. A credit card would be a good option, but I don’t have one personally because my credit was destroyed in a divorce. As far as this company, even though it’s lucrative, it’s not considered a good risk [by the credit card companies]. The idea is to build up enough income and revenue so that they do [consider it a good risk].
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Business Challenges and Rewards
The most challenging thing is the startup costs. I’ve overcome the equipment cost. I add equipment as I go – I keep adding train cars. There are annual costs you can’t get around like insurance and operating fees and vehicle inspections and certifications. If I want to cross state lines, I have to get certified in that state. If I want to go in a parade, I have to have a $1 million insurance policy.
[The most rewarding thing about owning this business] is when I can make a child smile … When I can make their day and their eyes open up in amazement … The experience of giving them something new and something that amazes them. Parents want their children to experience life, so parents are very appreciative, too. It’s a win-win situation. I won’t ever give up because of that.
One of my mistakes was not understanding the amount of capital it would take. The thing about it is you just build it up over time. You do it in increments. The other mistake was not understanding what was marketable. I thought I would just put this truck on the side of the road and people would come to me because it draws them in. But, getting them to open their wallet is a whole other thing. You have to offer them value. That’s the whole reason I wrote the books. Children will remember the stories for their lives. Parents and teachers will get something because there’s a lesson in there.
[A smart thing I did was] I made the truck bright yellow and I made it so that it is appealing. My competitors charge $250 an hour. I charge $300, and I’m there for 2 hours. I have five cars and they have four. I try to provide value and understand what the market will bear.
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Be persistent. It’s not going to turn as quick as you think. If you think it’s marketable, identify that, hone in on it, and enhance the experience. Stick with your roots. Eventually, you’ll find that golden rainbow that’s going to pull you from one side to where you belong.
The Future of Mini Monster Truck
This business is probably going to be my full-time income. I might even franchise it. I think it’s going to do nothing but grow.