This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper
Getting off the train one Friday afternoon, Danielle Candela returned home to the Hamptons. However, her tremendous bags reminded her of the commute to get there, countless shoes and all.
During this tiresome moment in the summer of 2016, Candela found the inspiration for her new start up, Tote Taxi, set to launch this May.
“I was dragging my suitcase from my apartment [in Manhattan], the subway station, my office and then packing myself on the LIRR with my over-sized bag on my lap. I looked around and saw there were so many other people doing the same,” Candela reminisced. “I had that light bulb moment.
Why wasn’t there an affordable service that brought your things out to the Hamptons for you?” And just like that, a business plan was born.
Tote Taxi is a same day courier service that brings your bags from your Manhattan apartment directly to the door step of your stay in Montauk. “It’s first class for your bags” for those using public transportation, whether it’s the Long Island Railroad, shared helicopter or small sized car service.
Price points begin at $39 for a 25-lb bag and go up to $69 for a 56-lb golf bag, which can be sent to the club house itself. All of this is conveniently scheduled through the Tote Taxi website. Service will run to Montauk Thursday through Saturday and to New York City Sunday and Monday. Customers can pick the date of their early morning pickup — recommended scheduling is 24 hours in advance — and can expect their luggage delivered between the afternoon and evening hours.
Yet, all of this wouldn’t be possible without the i-Hamptons community, an organization that focuses on aiding thriving entrepreneurs through local events, further education, and investment opportunities. Candela learned about i-Hamptons through another Southampton entrepreneur in September 2017.
Ashley Heather, creator of i-Hamptons and The Spur, a new co-working space in Southampton, organized a “Shark Tank” style event that sparked Candela’s interest. A month later, while on a family trip to Rome, Candela entered the contest by creating a two-minute video explaining her business venture.
“I had to put it together and find someone to help me edit while I was overseas,” Candela explained. “That’s being an entrepreneur for you. You have to be able to roll with it, step up to the plate — and in this instance, I loved the pressure. It was go time!”
Fast forward to the November 25, 2017 event, Rip Tide [Hamptons] $ink or $wim, where Tote Taxi won $15,000, which thus far funded the website and a vehicle to transport customers’ bags. In addition to the grant, Candela received mentorship and membership at The Spur, with dual access to the New York City location, WorkHouse. As a city resident on weekdays and Hamptons bound during the weekends, this was an ideal situation for her busy, creative lifestyle.
Candela noted, “The energy, the people — it’s so great. Heather really built a sense of community where everyone is on the same team. It’s really refreshing.”
Local entrepreneurs Kathleen King, Bruce Bockmann, Meg Farrell, and David Bohnett have all supplied Candela with meaningful advice for Tote Taxi, through their learned expertise. Starting up a new business provides many obstacles, but support from other like-minded individuals makes the process easier, she said.
As collaborations and partnerships are still in the works, nothing to be revealed just yet for this ever-growing company on the rise. However, Candela hopes to someday work with Jenn Hyman, founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, who has become a sort of business idol.
“I relate to Jenn’s story,” Candela expressed. “So many of the challenges she faced were similar to mine, but also her values, her outlook on family, business and community…getting married at Gurney’s…Seems like she loves the Hamptons as much as I do.”
To support her start up, Candela retains a day job at XO Group in Manhattan, a media company that publishes multi-media content for couples who are planning weddings, creating a home, and starting a family. A trained figure skater, she also recently completed a season instructing ice skating at Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton. No matter where she is or what she’s doing, one thing is for certain, “being an entrepreneur isn’t something you can turn off. It’s an eat, sleep, dream mentality.” As a single woman in her 20s, without the responsibility of a family, starting up a business felt like a no-brainer. This is her time to take risks, to see how high she could soar, she noted.
Her advice to other female entrepreneurs is to start small by setting aside at least an hour a day towards the dream.
“Always trust your gut. Having a supportive, trustworthy team is crucial. As women, we have great intuition. Don’t doubt that voice. Only you know what’s best,” she said.
Keep up to date on all that’s happening with Danielle Candela and Tote Taxi by visiting their website.