Meet This Year’s Invest St. Lucia Young Entrepreneur of the Year
RANDY Lafontaine, owner of St. Lucia Travel and Tours, is this year’s Invest St. Lucia Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The youngster picked up the coveted award at the ninth annual St. Lucia Business Awards hosted by the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture on January 27, 2018 at Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa.
Moments after receiving his award, Lafontaine opened up to The VOICE about his business exploits thus far, including how he got started and future plans.
Question: How significant is this win for you?
Lafontaine: It’s absolutely amazing because I’ve worked really hard for this. A few hours of sleep every day because I’m on the road every day. So for me it’s really exciting because where I come from things like this does not usually happen to people like me. So I’m just really excited to be here.
Question: Where are you from, really?
Lafontaine: I’m from the community of La Haut, where I was born and raised. Growing up, there was literally no water and electricity. So I experienced what it was like to have to go to the river to bathe and wash and all that. So for me, it’s really big being at the awards.
Question: Tell me a bit about the business you’re into.
Lafontaine: St. Lucia Travel and Tours is basically a taxi and tour company. We cater to both visitors and locals. This year, we want to do more for the locals.
Question: How old are you?
Lafontaine: I’m 26.
Question: How were you able to accomplish this much? When did it all start for you?
Lafontaine: To be quite honest, I started hustling a long time ago. Even at school, I was always selling stuff. They used to call me Amigo. So that’s where it all began. Even my Dad – from the time he was 15 years old – has never worked for anyone. So he was one of my inspirations.
Question: How many employees do you have?
Lafontaine: Right now, I have 6 employees. But I’m looking to expand this year, so I’m also looking to employ more young people.
Question: I’m guessing you get many comments on TripAdvisor. Am I right?
Lafontaine: Yes. Lots of comments on TripAdvisor.
Question: What is your business motto?
Lafontaine: For me, it’s customer service. The money doesn’t really matter. The money is just a bonus. For me, customer service is always number one. As long as my clients are happy, I’m happy.
Question: How do you source your clientele?
Lafontaine: Through social media and Google. I was able to learn how to build a website within a few months as well as learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so as long as you search for my website, it will come up?
Question: Where is your business based?
Lafontaine: I work from home but I’m always on the road. So I don’t really need to have an office area. I just need to respond to my clients when they send me an email or call me.
Question: What is your fleet of vehicle like presently?
Lafontaine: I personally have two cars right now. I’m also looking to expand this year to get more personal vehicles. However, my drivers do have their own personal vehicles and they are all inspected to make sure they are up-to-date and everything is working fine.
Question: Who would be some of the top names that would have used your service?
Lafontaine: I’m not there yet but I’m working on it. But I’ve already had people who own similar companies like mine coming to the island and using my service.
Question: What word of advice would you offer to young people looking to get into business?
Lafontaine: My main advice to young people would be that whatever they can think or believe in, they can achieve. I really want to inspire young people to become entrepreneurs because even if you go to school and get all the education and degrees, when you leave school, you still cannot find a job. Or sometimes you’ll find that the job you get is not something you really studied for.
If you become an entrepreneur, you can always employ other people as well. So don’t just go to school to study Business to simply work for someone else afterwards. Study business to at least start something.
Question: What was your school life and qualifications like?
Lafontaine: I went as far as Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC), where I studied for an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.
Question: Any final comments?
Lafontaine: One of the reasons I’m really excited about the win is that more people will now get to know about St. Lucia Travel and Tours and what we do. Hopefully, it would be easier for me to make contact with more people.