Aprell May Munford
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In order to launch “Rozki Rides”, Jessica Rozki turned to the Holyoke EforAll entrepreneurship program to follow her dream. The EforAll “ecosystem” supports entrepreneurs with business coaching, consultancy and connection to professional networks.
Jessika Rozki’s story begins 15 years ago as a Chicopee school bus driver. Rozki loved everything about her career in transportation, especially the children and their parents.
However, after her last child was born, she needed more flexibility. Rozki said she went into prayer, which provided her an answer.
“I had been saved for six years. I asked God what did he want me to do. And I dreamed about it. I saw the van,” Rozki said.
Rozki resolved in 2019 to launch Rozki Rides, which today is a professional transportation service for families in Greater Springfield. The company employs three people and has four vehicles.
“The company kind of just made itself work on its own. I was a driver. I had three boys already, I was having a girl and I wanted to be with her,” Rozki said. “After taking a year off, because I loved being in transportation, being with the kids and schools, I wanted to start driving again. I asked myself how I could do both. There was nothing out there like that. How could I help myself with all my certifications? I felt if I was struggling there must be others.”
Rozki turned to the Holyoke EforAll entrepreneurship program to follow her dream. The EforAll “ecosystem” supports entrepreneurs with business coaching, consultancy and connection to professional networks.
“Mentorship is critical in business,” Rozki said. “EforAll was exceptional because of the network and support system they provide.”
Rozki Rides started at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, which Rozki said was extremely challenging. Even though she knew there were few other transportation companies like hers in the market, she was nervous about starting up and building initial clientele.
“During the pandemic we had our ups and downs. Bigger transportation companies were shutting down. Which helped me be found by companies and families looking for transportation. We focused on more options for adults at the time, but our main focus was on kids and helping seniors with transportation,” Rozki said.
Normally, families could not get transportation or day care vouchers unless they had been on public assistance within the last year, leaving families the choice between paying high ride-sharing costs or to rely on public transportation. Rozki Rides provides families an alternative.
“A lot of times we have friends and family that can help with rides and watching our children, but for how long? Our transportation will always be here,” Rozki said.
Business has picked up in the last year and Rozki Rides is hiring.
“In my first year we serviced over 100 families,” Rozki said. “In the past four months we serviced 40 more families and we have been continuously growing. We are working with day cares, summer camps, from Westfield to West Springfield.”
With inflation due to the pandemic and other transportation businesses closing for good, Rozki worried about keeping her price point affordable. She now understands how invaluable a service like this is to a family who is navigating these hard times.
“Prices starts at $25,” Rozki said. “It is not cheap, but it is reliable. It is about stability for most families. Parents know that we will be here all the time.”
Catering to families’ needs is at the core of Rozki Rides.
“We do it all. We do sports, pickups and drop-offs. This is unique and there is nothing else like it,” Rozki said.
According to Rozki, the day she knew this transportation service served a bigger purpose was when a parent called her and thanked her for the ride. She revealed that her daughter would not have been able to participate in after-school sports because of her work schedule, but Rozki Rides provided a way to make it work.
“When you see yourself helping, understand, it is so rewarding,” Rozki said. “To say I was able to help a mom to keep her job, it was like providing a gift.”
Rozki said it is the tiny details that make her transportation service different.
“I like to meet the parents and children firsthand, so they have a chance to feel me out. I like them to see that this is a real option,” Rozki said. “We have car seats and boosters. Everything is cleaned and sanitized.”
Making it in business in Western Massachusetts, in Rozki’s opinion, means being resilient, believing in yourself and being able to move forward. There is remarkable value in the Western Massachusetts community, she said.
“I wouldn’t have done it without the community. We love what we do. In providing help for parents, I was able to support my family. Likewise, we help entire families when hiring them as drivers,” Rozki said.
Community and support are also important building blocks in Rozki Rides foundation and was a big part in the company making it in Western Massachusetts.
“You must have support. My husband said, ‘Let’s try it out.’ He did not want me to go back to work but would support me if our daughter stayed the number one priority. And he gave me 100% support. The first day of school, I was able to take her in my van,” Rozki said. “We started with a van and now we have a bus.”
According to Rozki, the building blocks of Rozki Rides’ success is passion.
“Entrepreneurship is challenging and risky. Having passion will make it happen,” she said.
What else is in Rozki’s success toolbox?
“Be unique and seek your own path,” she said. “Surround yourself with the right people, because it is a lonely path. Be OK when people don’t understand. Be true to yourself. See if you can keep doing it even if you have your breakdown moments. Look to the light. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.”
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.