Since he was a kid, Michael Preston has drifted to the waterfront whenever he needed to reflect. But when he stood on Chicago’s lakeshore, he rarely saw a reflection of himself. “There was nobody on the boats who looked like me,” says Michael, an African American. “There are millions of people in Chicago who don’t have access to the water, because they don’t have the money for a boat.”
So he decided he would address that disparity by providing an affordable means to get out on the water. He came across Go-Float boats in 2013: small, two-seat, electrically powered pleasure craft designed for recreational trips on tranquil waters, and his business idea was born.
No matter what the dream is, don’t give up.
Michael and his wife Greta embarked on a plan for a business that would rent the boats, and Accion lent Michael the capital to launch Cruisin’ Waves. For $25, renters can set sail for 30 minutes on an all-electric craft that generates no pollution.
Cruisin’ Waves attracted a steady stream of customers in its first year — enough volume that Michael is entertaining opening a second rental location.
Michael hopes his story encourages other aspiring business owners.“No matter what the dream is, don’t give up on it, no matter what age you are,” he says. “There’s a place like Accion that can provide assistance.”