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Dustin Adams of Cruise Carts boasts an advertiser-driven business

Going for a ride

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Well Charlotteans, it looks like last week's Masters Tournament isn't the only place boasting a golf-cart frenzy. Cruise Carts, started in March 2014 by one young entrepreneur Dustin Adams, is the first of its kind in the Queen City to offer free rides for community members in NoDa, South End, Uptown and Plaza Midwood.

What's the catch, you ask? There isn't one. Cruise Carts operates on advertisements, meaning you can, indeed, ride these fully electric, luxurious, safe and eco-friendly carts for free (minus a gracious tip for the driver).

We sat down with Adams in Cruise Cart's cozy office on Graham Street, complete with eco-friendly inspired décor and a map of Charlotte's golf-cart accessible streets, to learn more about the budding business that's taken an unexpected, but successful, turn in the months leading up to the launch party on April 16 at VBGB Beer Hall and Garden.

THE BEGINNING

A lot of bad ideas led to a good one. A friend of mine saw a very similar platform in another state and presented it to me, as we had already went down some other roads with other transportation systems or outlets. Originally, we were looking at electric bicycles from China. We investigated looking into what other ride systems we could use and landed on golf carts. I had another friend of mine who had just passed the bar exam luckily go through all the legal and red tape and figure out where we needed to be and if this was going to work in Charlotte, and once we found out that it would, that's kind of how it started.

COMMUNITY FOCUS

We spent the first year finding out how to ingrain this system, this business model and our brand into every community that we possibly could. What we stand out in, in terms of other rides in Charlotte, is that we're not only providing a free ride for the communities, but we're also heavily involved in NoDa, South End, Plaza Midwood and Uptown, the areas that we serve. We have been operating on the roads with a soft schedule right now. So we're out and about working with community partners and the events that have asked us to come out. We feel that people who are at events and venues, those are people that invest in themselves and their families, and through that, we feel that that's a better outlet for advertisers to be seen possible than the nightlife industry.

THE EXPERIENCE

Our drivers are highly educated on the city; they know all the bars, clubs and restaurants. They have to go through a Charlotte 101 training before they can take the cart out and drive. They also go through social media and customer experience training. We're not selling for the advertisers; we're educating people on what the advertisers offer. It's not really a pushy sales pitch.

NEXT ON THE AGENDA

We already have an application developed but we're not going to release that to the public because this is about an experience, and somebody is going to have a really bad experience if they request a cart at 6:30 and it doesn't get there until 7:30 because there's only three of them [carts] on the road. So as we expand and have more carts available to reach wider communities, then we will release and app and a call center so that people can actually request us. But right now, you just kind of have to see us and yell at us."

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