Nick Popov was only 20 when he moved to Canada from Russia.
As a struggling student at The University of Toronto, Popov worked part time in the cafeteria, at the grocer near his apartment and delivered pizzas to cover his college and living expenses. Little did he know, one of those dead end jobs would change his life forever.
“To get a job as a delivery boy, I purchased my first car. It was a Hyundai. It was a very crappy old car and it cost me $1,300. I bought it from a small dealership. The car began having brake, engine and transmission problems. After half a year there were too many problems. I fixed it for $3,000 and sold it for $2,000.”
By 2011, friends and classmates began to ask Lam to help them pick out and buy cars. Lam explained that in the Chinese tradition, when someone does you a favor, you repay the generosity by taking them out to dinner.
“More and more students needed helps with buying cars. By 2011, too many customers and friends were asking — and I thought this should be a business. I told them instead of buying me food, give me $300 for the car service. My company started the moment I started collecting money from clients.”
He started getting two to three clients per week. As his clientele grew, Lam brought on his first partner to help manage the business and in 2012, with no outside funding, he started his own dealership and hired his classmates and friends from Russia.