When it comes to startups, sometimes you need to take what you’ve learned so far from your own experience and others — and just go for it.
David Breyla, Noah Lux and John Mouser are following in the footsteps of the Delaware-based startup-turned-national brand Carvertise, without being direct competitors in the vehicle wrapping market. Launched less than a year ago, their own company, Spray Less, is on the verge of big growth. That’s for both their team, and their expertise, as they’ve learned what it takes to get a business up and running.
The commercial vehicle wrapping company was conceived of by Breyla and Lux, two friends who, at that point, had six years of experience in the car wrapping industry: They’d both worked for Carvertise since they were 15. Mouser, a University of Delaware entrepreneurship major and friend of fellow UD student Breyla, became the third founder, bringing past business-starting experience to the table.
“Noah was like, ‘Hey, we see some gaps in this market of vehicle graphics and vinyl,'” Mouser told Technical.ly. “‘We think that we can really make a company big out of this. Would you be interested in going in it with us?'”
Unlike Lux and Breyla, Mouser wasn’t familiar with car wrapping at that point, but he sensed that the company had potential: “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m graduating in December. Let’s do it. Let’s jump into something full force.'”
Although they gained their auto-wrapping experiencer at Carvertise, which also came out of UD as a startup, the Spray Less founders had no interest in competing with the company that gave them their start.
Carvertise is a leader in a specific corner of the market. It sells ads to companies and wrap cars in them, with a focus on Uber drivers and food delivery people. Carvertise does not wrap vehicles with a business’ branding; an HVAC company can’t bring its logo to them and have its company vehicles wrapped. That part of the market is done primarily by companies located both in and out of Delaware that specialize in various kinds of signage, tint shops or small sole proprietorships.
"Knowing that you will probably get those no's because you're a younger company will help you stay with it and build that trust."
“The big gap we found was complacency and communication in customer service,” Mouser said. “A lot of these companies, they’ve been around for a really long time. They’ve had the same clients for 30 to 40 years. They’re not really searching for new clients, and if they get a new client, they’re kind of put on the back burner. It’s funny, because this is one of the only industries I’ve been a part of where the client chases the business.”
Spray Less officially launched in August 2021 soon after the founders took the startup idea through UD’s Summer Founders program. With investment from the three founders and a friends and family round of funding, they were able to open a shop near Newark with a six-foot-wide HP 700 series Latex printer, a laminator, a cutter, and a focus on wrapping service company vehicles.
And when they said they were going to jump in full force, they meant it. Breyla joined Lux, who had headed straight to the workforce out of high school, in devoting all of his time to the business by dropping out of UD. Mouser says he considered dropping out, too, but ultimately decided that with the credits he had left to complete to graduate he could finish his degree while working on the startup.
It was about five months before they started landing clients for the kind of jobs they envisioned. Now, still less than a year old, the company is establishing itself — something Mouser says wouldn’t have happened without persistence. That promise of growth landed Spray Less on Technical.ly’s 2022 RealLIST Startups.
“When we first started, we were going for some big fish in the market,” Mouser said. “And we got a lot of no’s, because they weren’t sure how we were going to hold up, or if we were going to make it past six months. I think [for new startups] just kind of knowing that you will probably get those no’s because you’re a younger company will help you stay with it and build that trust.”
The cofounders are looking to hire their first employees soon. Launching a company straight out of school has its risks, but as Spray Less grows, they said they’re becoming more attuned to what the business needs.
“I’ve learned so much,” Mouser said, “everything from prospecting a client to balancing my accounting to doing invoices. The biggest thing I think I’ve learned is that business is relationships. You have to be focused on building that trust between the client and the company.”-30-