India Meets… George Howell
Written By India Nye, Photography by Mike Alsford
George Howell knows his market; that’s a given. At just 18, he has created a business focusing on finding the best car for first time buyers; a massive achievement for one so young.
I met with George, at Exeter’s Artigiano, to learn a little bit more about him and his business; Ideal First Car. Dedicated, willing and eager to learn; I found his vision and focus to be both extraordinary and inspiring.
“Working within the customer’s budget & brief, the focus is to help first-time buyers to find the best quality first car, whilst providing industry knowledge and using contacts within Exeter, especially,” George explains. “I’ve always loved the motor industry, yet when it came to car dealerships I saw a lot of things that could be improved on; primarily untrustworthy dealers. I have plenty of friends who have learnt the hard way.”
Listening to stories of George’s experience, the vast knowledge he had collected and learnt over the years was clear. I wanted to learn more about his influences and what had motivated him to follow the entrepreneur path. What was it that made him take that first step?
“I wanted to prove people, who thought my plan for the future was never going to work, wrong. It can be done! In the environment that I grew up in, with people ridiculing me and nitpicking at everything that I did, there was no such thing as the word ‘entrepreneur’. There’s a fear about doing it on your own. With a job, you can walk away at 5 pm. When it’s your own business it’s 24/7.”
Diving head first into a business, at such a young age, whilst all the while knowing full well that it was not going to be easy, is incredible and shows true dedication. But I wanted to know just how far ahead George had thought; I was curious to know how dedicated he is.
“My main long-term goal is expansion. Whilst I would like to keep all main operations in Exeter, simply because it’s such a good, growth focused city, I would want to move on to be national, maybe one-day international!”
I could feel the passion George has for his business; his vision for growth was clear. But growth is never a straight line; there’ll always be mistakes or lessons learnt. Delving deeper, I questioned what his setbacks had been and how he overcame them?
“My main struggle was public opinion; I was constantly criticised by my peers. I started my business at the age of 16; I was not doing what ‘normal’ teenagers do. As well as that, people undermined me for my age; something I didn’t really consider when I first started. The main reason I was able to overcome these setbacks, was because I had a great support network in place; my family were incredibly supportive of my choices and were with me every step of the way”.
My final question focused on what made his business unlike any other we had seen. Apart from the fact that its founder was just 18, I wanted to know what was unique about Ideal First Car and how they were making a difference.
“I am the target market. I understand what is needed. Other companies can view the demographic to get an idea, but unless you’ve lived in the here and now, you can’t tailor everything to the needs of these specific individuals. We also pride ourselves on great customer service and relations; if we were buying a car, what would our standards be? Get the relationship right from the start, build a solid platform and those previous first-time buyers will come back and work with us again”.
There’s no doubt that I was inspired by George and what he has created with Ideal First Car; he is my age and already has a firm idea of what he wants from his business and what it will take to get there. He’s a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to see what he makes of it.
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