Success Stories of Alternative Business Lending: Jump on the School Bus

We think it’s important to give business owners a voice. Here is the story of Darin Fiechter and Sierra Falso, founders of Jump on the School Bus.

After a failed restaurant business venture, Darin and Sierra purchased a school bus and launched Jump on the School Bus in 2010. The transportation company became a huge success and they now operate 14 buses year-round.

The Journey
Like most small business owners, Darin and Sierra experienced ups and downs in their journey towards entrepreneurial freedom. The couple was on the brink of homelessness after losing their restaurant in 2010 and were desperately searching for a solution. While relaxing on the beach over Labor Day weekend, Sierra came up with the idea to purchase and renovate a school bus to offer wine tours. Darin wasn’t totally on board, so she reasoned, "If the idea flops—we can sleep in the bus."

She and Darin sold their valuables and purchased their first bus. Though some ideas had to be laid to rest, such as keeping the bus yellow and wearing costumes, Jump on the Bus became a hit relatively quickly in their hometown of sunny Santa Barbara, CA. In the first year of business and with just one operating bus, Sierra and Darin made $100,000.

They decided to expand their operations to meet their growing customer base; however, this left them with minimal free cash flow for operating expenses. The biggest obstacle with wine and wedding tours is their seasonality. Businesses that thrive during particular seasons must have exceptional budgeting skills in order to remain open during the slower months, which in this case, is November through March.

"Our slow season…is also when we're expected to pay a huge generalized liability deposit for each bus. That liability deposit is 25% of our annual policy, a huge chunk of money we must pay during February,” said Darin. Although the company could prove successful growth and deposits, the banks immediately disqualified the business for a business loan due to credit obstacles.

A Business Solution
After going online to research alternative lending options, Sierra and Darin eventually scheduled various phone calls with online lenders, but felt uncomfortable with some of the financing terms. As they continued searching for additional options, they eventually found SnapCap.

"I immediately sensed SnapCap's personalized vibe," said Sierra. "I completed the online questionnaire, received an email immediately (after) and a call soon after that." After they learned about the entire process over the phone, they decided that SnapCap was a good solution for their business needs due to a low emphasis on credit and a relatively painless process. From beginning to end, the process took one week.

How SnapCap Helped
Darin and Sierra obtained a $20,000 business loan from SnapCap, paid their large general liability insurance deposit and made necessary improvements to their buses.

"As we build trust, new or future loans will be less expensive. With a business model focused on personalization and rewarding good customers, SnapCap’s doing lending right," concluded Sierra.


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