“You just spray it on and wipe it off with a towel,” he said. “It allows us to be mobile and go to different parking lots since we don’t have a set structure.”
Helms was able to test out his business idea in an entrepreneurship class during fall 2014 when he launched a week-long test market in November where they washed cars in the Southern Season parking lot, washing as many as 50 cars in 18 hours.
“The week working at Southern Season was tough,” Short said. “One day it was 27 degrees. One day it rained. But this is part of the entrepreneurial journey we’re taking right now.”
Though Helms said his hands turned black from washing cars for a week, he plans to continue Buddy’s. From their findings during the test market, Short estimates they could wash more than 8,000 cars a year and make about $120,000 in revenue.
Jim Kitchen, UNC’s entrepreneur-in-residence and Helms’ former business professor, said his business model has the potential to grow.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” he said. “I think he’s learning to grow his business organically. He’s learning by doing, which is the most important thing to do.”
Helms’ business model won third place out of 110 teams in the Carolina Challenge competition. Later this month, the Buddy’s team will travel to the Edens Retail Challenge competition, a national competition.
Buddy’s hopes to partner with local farmer’s markets where they donate a percent of their revenue to the Share the Food Foundation.
After only four months of being in business, Helms said so many opportunities have arisen that it is difficult to plan what comes next.
“If a door opens, we usually walk through it,” he said.