Joel Minteu, 22, looks at his new business as a sign of the times. The Scottsdale resident a year ago started an Internet marketing company that puts advertising signs on the rear windows of drivers' vehicles.
The company, Badere.com, pays drivers $50 a month to post the signs on their windows and charges companies $80 a month for the advertising service. After deducting the cost of the signs and other expenses, Minteu pockets the profits, which are steadily growing.
Minteu, who moved to Arizona four years ago from his home in Cameroon, Africa, began his unique enterprise in Tucson while enrolled as an accounting student at the University of Arizona.
He received nearly 800,000 initial responses from across the United States, including 10,000 from the Valley, during his first Internet test marketing, he said.
"I was overwhelmed by the number of responses," Minteu said.
He currently has five companies in the Tucson area paying for the advertising service and more than 350 drivers, mostly in Arizona, that he, in turn, pays for their rear window space.
The 12-inch by 24-inch signs are made of clear vinyland contain the advertiser's name, phone number and sometimes its Web site. Or it may simply display a key word that attracts the attention of other motorists, explained Minteu.
"Each car is seen by an estimated 3,000 motorists a day," said Minteu, who recently launched his expanded business in the Valley from his home and office in Scottsdale.
"My goal now is to grow in the Greater Phoenix area," said Minteu. "By the end of the year, I hope to have more than 5,000 drivers in Arizona."
His goal for the next five years is to gross at least $6 million.
"This form of vehicle graphics is the least expensive and, yet, a very effective form of advertising for your dollar," Minteu tells potential buyers.
The see-through signs are placed so they don't block the driver's rear-window view, he said.
Hopeful drivers must submit an application listing information such as their zip code, condition and make of their vehicle, the number of miles regularly driven each day and a signed contract.
Companies interested in displaying their ads first meet with Minteu and jointly decide what information to place on the vinyl ad, how many cars they wish to pay for and in which marketing areas.
Serge Kuny, owner of World Express Service in Tucson, said his sales increased after using the nontraditional marketing approach.
"I started getting calls from everywhere and a lot of new orders," Kuny said.
Steriane Tchemy, 23, a Tucson driver, said she used her first check to pay her credit card and phone bill.
"I got paid just for driving my car," Tchemy said.
The young entrepreneur was introduced to the business world at about age eleven when he spent time with his father, Emanuel Minteu, an accountant and real estate investor in Douala, the economic center of Cameroon.
"My father taught me the basics of accounting and business, which he is still doing today in Cameroon." Minteu said.
"As I grew older, I decided I wanted to do something different in another country, so I looked around the world," he said. "I learned the climate in Arizona was about the same as Cameroon, and it would be a good place to begin my college education."
Minteu enrolled at UA and began exploring potential enterprises. Eventually he founded Badere, LLC, which, according to Minteu's interpretation, stands for BA - Business Administration, DE - Development and RE - Relations.
So, what does he think the potential is for his business in the United States?
There are more than 347 million registered vehicles in the United States, he responds.
What do you think?