NEWPORT entrepreneur Carl Harris has launched private chauffeur business Luxstar Ltd with the backing of a £24,000 micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales, and support from Business Wales, Newport Council and USKE.
Faced with redundancy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Harris seized the opportunity to turn his experience and passion into his own business. With eight year’s professional driving experience, Mr Harris has worked with the American Embassy providing services to congress, NATO, the US Coastguard, presidents and former presidents.
Luxstar offers a confidential, luxury service to all clients, and can accommodate disabled customers. Mr Harris launched the start-up business in November 2020.
He said: “I’ve been researching setting up my own business for a number of years. The rapports I had gained with people over the years, the knowledge taken from the clients I had driven, and the trust I was given led me on to explore opportunities to start my own chauffeur business with the high standards I was used to. Faced with redundancy because of the Covid-19 pandemic I decided now was the time to take the plunge and become my own boss.
“My first challenge was coming up with a robust business plan. I had a lot of knowledge of working in the transportation industry but no experience in running my own company. I conducted market research and included all my findings in my business plan, which was scrutinised by the Development Bank of Wales. That’s where Business Wales and Melanie really helped me.”
Business Wales’ adviser Melanie Phipps helped Mr Harris with his market research, legal set-up, pricing, insurance and bank accounts: “It has been a pleasure working with the Development Bank of Wales and Newport Council to help Carl get the necessary help, business skills and financial support to launch his dream venture. With his experience and despite the challenges we are all currently facing, I am convinced he will make Luxstar Ltd a success”, said Ms Phipps.
Mr Harris also signed up to the Business Wales Green Growth Pledge, committing to reducing his impact on the environment by preventing waste and pollution.
The loan was arranged on behalf of the Development Bank of Wales by Investment Executive Claire Vokes. She said: “It has been a pleasure working with Carl through his funding application. With his dedication and help from Business Wales he was able to provide a robust business plan, which secured funding from the Development Bank of Wales for his start-up costs. He has a wealth of experience in professional driving and we look forward to seeing Luxstar and Carl flourish.”
“To be a chauffeur, you are required to be licensed by your local authority and hold a Private Hire license as well as an operator’s license. I managed to get the operator’s license fairly quickly thanks to Alan Leen from the Newport licensing team. In Mid-November, I finally sat the knowledge test so I can apply for the private hire license in Newport,” said Carl.
Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE works with Newport City Council to provide grant support for start-up businesses with potential to create jobs.
Martin Palmer of UKSE said: “The scheme is highly effective and has helped businesses of all kinds get established in Newport. We wish Carl every success, and we are pleased to have helped him get the business on the road.”