Impressing the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce isn’t an easy feat.
So the rousing applause for 19-year-old Jonny Netz after his presentation at that body’s Luncheon on Youth Leadership was a good sign.
Netz, a Bellevue native, wowed the crowd with his business, Zadart Exotic Car Rentals.
Now a student at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, Netz runs the business from afar. He rents out several dozen luxury, exotic and supercars from a storefront in Bellevue. He started Zadart when he was just 17, a high schooler at Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland.
“I noticed there was no company to fill that void of luxury cars for rent. I pitched the idea to my dad and we pored over car sites looking for the perfect fit,” Netz said. “We found one that was affordable and enjoyable to drive.”
Zadart started in the Netz’s home with a leased BMW 750i. To recoup those costs, Netz figured a rental price of $300 a day would work.
He quickly found out not everything goes the way you expect it to in the world of business.
“I thought I could blow away Hertz and Avis, I thought I was the next big thing,” Netz said. “But I realized $300 a day wasn’t working. So I lowered it to $200. Then $150. I finally lowered it to $75 a day.”
Netz said that while the BMW was a nice car, it wasn’t exotic or interesting enough to corner the market.
“There’s much more of a market for exotic car rentals than for luxury cars,” he said.
Two years after Zadart opened for business, he rolled up to the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland for the chamber meeting with a Lamborghini Huracan, a Mclaren Spider, a Bentley Continental GT and a Mercedes SLS AMG, all cars selling for more than $180,000 each via retail.
And for prices ranging from to $250 to $2,400 a day, you too can drive one of Zadart’s fleet.
He credits his parents for taking the risk with him, but also his own work ethic for making the business prosper.
“Be a hustler,” Netz said. “If I had a dime for every time I told a teacher I was going to the bathroom when I was actually delivering a car down the street, I’d have at least a dollar. I’d come back all sweaty from “the bathroom” to some embarrassing questions.”
He’s hoping to get his marketing degree, as he said that’s one facet of his business he still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of.
But Netz said it hasn’t all been rosy.
“I had to ask myself, is this a business or a hobby,” he said. “Because if it’s a business, I’m going to have to make some sacrifices.”
Netz quit soccer, his favorite sport, and stopped seeing as much of his friends. He took all the company’s phone calls and emails, detailed cars, delivered the vehicles and balanced the books. All that before he started on his homework.
But through his hard work, help from family and friends, and a little bit of luck, Zadart has been able to expand. It opened the storefront at 11855 Bel-Red Road in Bellevue and Netz hopes he can grow his fleet this summer to around 40 vehicles.
His vehicles have been impounded, shot at and have gotten a fair share of tickets. Two were even destroyed in crashes. Even so, Netz said he has the support of local law enforcement.
“The Bellevue Police Department used some of my cars for a safety video,” he said. “Let me tell you, as a business which rents out fast cars, having the Bellevue Police Department on your side is the best business move we could have made.”
Netz said the key to his business was word-of-mouth, reviews on sites like Yelp (on which, he is proud to say, Zadart holds a five-star rating), and willingness to lose a little money to keep clients happy long term.
And that’s business sense most 19-year-olds just don’t have.