You’d better be willing to put in some serious sweat equity before even thinking of asking Cameron Davies for his financial support. Davies, owner of Cruising Kitchens and mentor/investor on Discovery Channel’s Blue Collar Backers (Fridays), is one of a handful of investors who are sharing their personal experiences and pocketbooks to help budding entrepreneurs make their dreams of owning a business a reality.
“For a small business to make it these days, you have to work your ass off, and it’s not just 40-hour workweeks,” Davies says. “I work 90 hours a week right now. So I have to know that my partners are going to be as involved in this project as I am.”
He speaks from experience, adding, “I’ve seen clients fail, and I’ve failed. I had a failed business, so in talking to people, I gauge by their knowledge of their business first and then the legitimacy behind their business — to see if it makes sense. If it made sense, that’s when I’d put my own money up. And it’s not like I go to a bank and borrow money. It’s my cash that I’ve made.”
Six years ago, Davies was broke; he couldn’t even pay his rent. He’s taking what he learned from his own life, and the success he has achieved with Cruising Kitchens, and sharing with others. “We’ve been blessed,” he says. “I try to give back as much as I can, but it’s just got to make sense or I could crumble our company.”
While Davies coaches his mentees from his shop in San Antonio, where he’s grown from eight employees to an eclectic group of 31, he continues to rely heavily on his street smarts and being a quick gauge of people. “I usually know within the first five minutes if somebody is going to be able to make it,” he says. “When people say [they plan to work] four days a week, that’s my first sign to run away fast.”
In tonight’s episode of Blue Collar Backers (Discovery Channel, 10pmET), Davies helps construct a mobile nightclub.