ALEX Chapman began washing cars in his parents’ driveway at the age of 13 with a bucket from Asda, some shampoo and a sponge, charging £6 a wash.
Today, the 19-year-old entrepreneur runs a luxury motor cleaning service, charging up to £4,000 per treatment.
The business AWC Car Detailing, which he founded in 2015, offers machine polishing and ceramic coating treatments for luxury cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces and Porsches.
The treatments can cost thousands of pounds as they go way beyond the average car wash, making the cars feel as new again.
AWC’s most expensive treatment – a paint protection film service – costs from £3,950 depending on the vehicle and it means the entire car is covered in film to protect it against light scratches.
The treatments take longer to complete, and so Alex usually works on four vehicles per week. Last year, the business had a turnover of £125,000.
‘I want to inspire other young people’
The 19-year-old from Southend in Essex said: “I’m proud of my achievements over the years.
“I hope that I can be an example and inspire other young people who want to start their own business.
“It’s important to have role models. Mine was one of the industry-leading car care companies and now we’re competing with them for contracts.”
Alex is the youngest car detailer in the world authorised by car detailing specialist Carpro, and last year he was the finalist of the Essex Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Alex said: “I’ve got one employee at the moment and I’m looking to hire another this year. The cars are coming in from all over the UK.”
‘I used to buy headphones from China’
The teenager, who says he’s had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, started off buying headphones from China.
He’d then sell them at school when he was in year eight.
“I sold sweets too. I used to keep a note book on everything I had spent and sold.”
Alex lives with his dad Mark, who works for an IT company, and mum Christine, a part-time nursery teacher.
Although his family were always supportive of his ambitions, the beginning of his business journey was anything but easy.
“It’s extremely difficult to start up a business from a young age because people don’t take you seriously,” he said.
“I remember going to my first ever job at a customer’s house when I was 15 years old.
“I got to the bloke’s house and he said to my dad, ‘I thought you would have had a van’.
“My dad said, ‘It’s not me doing the job, it’s my son’, and the man said I was too young, so we left.”
‘Some people laughed at me’
As the business grew, Alex rented a unit and started offering the polishing service while he was still at school, working during weekends.
He said: “I made videos of the car washing trying to promote it.
“There were teachers who would play the videos at school and some people laughed.”
Unlike his older brother and sister who went to a grammar school, Alex attended his local comprehensive.
He said: “I’m not a massive academic person. I don’t believe in just doing that when you could focus on other things.
“You’re the only person who can make the best decisions about your life.
“I tried to drop my A-level Economics and my teacher lost it. I hated the subject.
“I went into the exam and I spent most of the time writing a business plan on the back of the paper.
“I know people who smashed it out of the park at A-level and now they’re just sitting at home doing nothing.”
Alex is now hoping to mentor and offer support to other young entrepreneurs.
The Sun has asked Alex how he got the cash to start AWC, but we haven’t yet heard back.
Keen to start your own business but could do with even more inspiration?
Last week, we revealed how a couple delayed their wedding TWICE to launch their milkshake business – and it’s now set for a £6million turnover.
The Sun also spoke to a dad-of-two who quit his banking job to set up a children’s hairdressers and now it makes £650k a year.
And we told the story of how a 26-year-old entrepreneur who grew up on a council estate started a ticket company now worth £22million.