We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Zapien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, how do you think about risk?
Risk has always played an important part in my life; especially now as a business owner. I always start by asking myself one question whenever I think about a risk I’m going to take: what’s the very worst thing that can happen if I fail? More often than not, I find that the consequences of failing are really not that bad. With especially risky decisions, I make sure to go through a risk mitigation process in case things don’t go as planned. A sort of “plan A, plan B, plan C” process that allows me to take risks more confidently. This was the same process I underwent when I decided to leave my corporate job and start my business, CarWise, I realized that the very worst thing that could happen if my business failed, was that I would be out of work and would lose the initial investment I had spent months saving up for. In my mind, this was really not that bad. The benefits of success greatly outweighed the consequences of failing. I was young, motivated, and qualified, and knew I could quickly find another job if I needed to. I also mitigated the consequences of failure by taking a few steps. First, I made sure to leave my corporate job on good terms in case I needed to come back one day. Secondly, I dramatically reduced my personal spending to prepare for difficulties with my business. Lastly, I started taking on “side hustles” to supplement the income I was making with CarWise. These steps all allowed me to take on greater risk I otherwise would’ve been wary of.
What should our readers know about your business?
My entire business is based on setting myself apart from an established way of doing things. For years, consumers have bought and leased new cars the exact same way; by going to a car dealership and going through a highly inefficient and unpleasant process that often results in them getting a bad deal. A report by Rethink Retail and Gallup found that 87% of car shoppers dislike the dealership experience and only 9% of Americans trust car salesmen. I started CarWise to revolutionize this system and offer a better alternative. My company handles the entire car-shopping process from beginning to end for our clients, saving them time and money. Leveraging our negotiating experience, industry knowledge, and dealership connections, we work to obtain great deals for our clients without them ever having to step foot in a car dealership. I am proud to say that in just two years, we’ve grown tremendously to help over 450 customers all across California.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is an easy question because I’ve had to act as a tour guide to my friends many times before! Starting with food; Mariscos Chente in Inglewood, Aliki’s Greek Taverna in Westchester, Ninas Cafe in Huntington Park, and Osteria La Buca in Hollywood are some of my favorite spots. I’m a huge foodie so I can guarantee all of these places are amazing! For some fun day-long activities, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach are great spots to drink and spend a beach day at. Watching a Laker game at the Staples Center, an LAFC game at the Banc of California, or catching a comedy show at The Hollywood Improv are also musts on my list. Finally, for some nightlife, I’d recommend Brennan’s in Culver City, La Descarga in East Hollywood, Caña Rum Bar in DTLA, or Xalos in Anaheim for banda music.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Big shoutout to my friends and family. They were my very first customers when I started my business and gave me the confidence to keep growing.