Within hours of posting about his new taxi company on an MSU Facebook page, mathematics sophomore Daniel Dunwoody was driving his 2002 Ford Explorer with his first customer in the back seat.
Dunwoody started his taxi service, Black Daddy Taxi, on Jan. 23 with two of his friends: economics sophomore Ian Brigmann and chemistry junior Ryan Lloyd. Although Dunwoody is the primary driver, he calls Brigmann and Lloyd in when he is too busy to take all the calls he receives.
The first weekend in business was a success, Dunwoody said. He said Facebook was a useful tool in spreading the word about his new venture.
“Last weekend, we were busy — beyond busy,” he said.
Multitasking was one of the big issues he faced in his first weekend on the job. He quickly learned that it is not as easy as it seems to drive, take calls and navigate all at the same time.
“The hardest part is when you get a lot of calls at once,” Dunwoody said. “It can overwhelm you.”
Dunwoody even set his classes up to support his business plans by choosing online or non attendance-based classes.
Instead of charging per person, Black Daddy Taxi charges by the carload. The company has a $5 rate, no matter how many people are in the car or the distance, as long as it is within an eight-mile radius of MSU’s campus.
MSU students were pleased with not only Black Daddy’s prices but with his response times, too.
“It’s less expensive than everywhere else, just because it’s $5 for whoever you bring with you,” fisheries and wildlife junior Alex Hondzinski said.
Because Dunwoody does not have a chauffeur’s license, he is limited in his efforts to advertise for his new business. Unlike licensed taxi companies, Dunwoody said he cannot solicit rides or put his logo or taxi medallion on his car.
Royal Express Taxi owner Vartan Muradov described the steps to starting up a taxi business as “not a hard process to start in East Lansing.”
“You basically have to get a vehicle, get the commercial license, commercial insurance and then after that you can get licensed from the Michigan Department of Transportation,” Muradov said. “I know East Lansing’s been pretty strict with having a license with them if you want to operate in the city.”
Black Daddy anticipates future issues with other cab companies.
“I do think there will be a taxi mafia war over me,” Dunwoody said, jokingly.
Dunwoody plans to continue his taxi service until he is out of college. From there he wants to become a pirate — he even has a ship to purchase in mind. But for now, he is just enjoying making some extra cash and meeting new people. For him, running his own business is both fun and rewarding.
“I like to be my own boss,” he said. “I’m a captain at heart.”