Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 01:39 pm
Last year, Talethea Thompson was a 911 operator. She decided to switch careers, and while she was figuring out her next steps she was driving for a ridesharing service.
That meant Thompson was stopping to fuel up her vehicle frequently. And she hated doing it.
“I was complaining in my car. I just didn’t want to go to the gas station again,” Thompson said. “I was driving for Uber and Lyft at the time and I was like, ‘Why can’t somebody just bring the gas to me?’”
Thompson called around to city and state regulators, and bounced the idea off her network and realized: Somebody can.
“Once I started researching it, I also realized that it was already being done. It was extremely validating,” she said, citing similar startups in California and Texas.
Her company, PumpFive, delivers fuel to drivers’ vehicles while they’re parked at work or at home. Based on a $19.99 monthly membership model and with gas sold at 8 to 12 cents less than most gas stations, Thompson has found traction with her concept.
Thompson has three part-time employees who help her with fueling, buying gas at retailers like Woodman’s and Costco to get the lowest price. But she hopes to secure a wholesale fuel contract soon.
“It is my intention to expand throughout the state,” and within five years, franchise PumpFive, Thompson said.
This summer, Thompson is adding auto detailing to her service offerings. She will contract with area detailers to book appointments, sharing in some of the earnings.
The entrepreneur has taken advantage of several programs, including Launch MKE and Young Enterprising Society’s Cultivator 2, to gain training and expand her network.
Thompson, who has bootstrapped PumpFive, launched the company’s app in November and has grown it to 122 active users.
On “Project Pitch It,” PumpFive received a $5,000 prize and the Stritch Pitch Award, which includes business classes, office space, mentorship and staff support from Cardinal Stritch University. The other benefit of appearing on the show, she said, was exposure to potential customers.
Aside from auto detailing, Thompson plans to expand to provide oil and tire changes in the future. And since individual accounts are growing by word-of-mouth, she is now focused on establishing corporate accounts.
“If the vehicles are fueled the night before (or) the morning of, then when the employees arrive, the vehicles are ready to go,” she said.
Leadership: Talethea Thompson, founder and CEO
Address: Cardinal Stritch, 6801 N. Yates Road, Fox Point
What it does: Fuel delivery service
Founded: April 2018