He invested about $50,000 to get started from personal savings and contributions from friends and family. The money allowed Cruz and a co-investor to design and patent the ChopperHearse, which carries the casket on a flatbed attached to the side of the motorcycle. They built two working bikes and launched a proprietary line of urns and keepsakes.
Three years later, the company now employs three part-time employees and manages about 50 funerals a year.
But Cruz wanted to give up his day job and run ChopperHearse full time. To do that, he needed to buy out one of his original co-investors and launch a national marketing campaign to drum up a lot more business.
He applied for a loan at two banks and was rejected by both. So about four months ago, he turned to Accion for a $30,000 loan using his two ChopperHearse bikes as collateral.
Accion turned the loan around in two weeks, Cruz said. It was really quick.
Cruz used the money to buy out his partner, purchase a trailer to attend conferences and trade shows in other states and begin a broad advertising campaign. He plans to attend Accion workshops to learn more about marketing.
Accion is helping us open a national campaign to expand outside New Mexico, Cruz said. Its allowing us to go to the next level.