Whether you’re hoisting heavy suitcases onto the luggage rack on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) or stuffing as many duffels and golf clubs into your trunk as possible, traveling between the Hamptons and NYC can be a huge hassle.
Local entrepreneur Danielle Candela, who grew up in East Quogue and now lives in the village of Southampton, was tired of “making the schlep” from New York to the Hamptons every weekend with heavy luggage. So she posed the question, “Why can’t someone carry my bags for me?”
Then, she created the answer. Her company, Tote Taxi, will transport your bags, golf clubs, bicycle and more from New York to Montauk, leaving you free to catch the next LIRR or coach to the East End.
Last December, Candela’s Tote Taxi won first prize in the RipTide $ink or $wim challenge, a Shark Tank-inspired start-up pitch competition in Southampton, sponsored by i-hamptons, last December. Twenty East End entrepreneurs submitted new business ideas via video presentations on the i-hamptons website, generating more than 3,000 online votes in the two weeks leading up to the finale event.
All the positive feedback Candella received didn’t surprise her. “I needed this service and I did enough market research beforehand to know that people had the same issue with their luggage,” she says.
Candela won not only $15,000, but also valuable support and mentoring from the experienced panel of judges. “Winning RipTide gave me much more than financing,” she says. “I have direct access to business leaders from a variety of industries, and their expertise is invaluable as a trucking and logistics executive.”
Candela names Jayma Cardoso, owner of The Surf Lodge in Montauk, as one of the many people who inspire her within the East End business world. Working with Cardoso during Sunday checkouts at the Surf Lodge, Candela tracked the patterns of hotel guests and determined how to work them into her business so that Tote Taxi could best accommodate customers.
“Having the truck hold bags on Sundays has given Tote Taxi amazing exposure and a chance to chat with our target market and educate them on our services—while solving a problem for The Surf Lodge,” Candela says, adding “Jayma is tough; she’s a strong businesswoman. I admire that.”
She describes Tote Taxi as having a “triple bottom line: people, planet and profit,” focusing primarily on “social responsibility, economic value and environmental impact.” This means the business places a great deal of importance on supporting the East End community and environment. By eliminating cars on the road and making travelers’ lives easier, she’s creating solutions for both businesses and people.
To that end, Tote Taxi has also teamed up with BLADE, the first digitally-powered, short distance aviation company that provides fast flights to the most in-demand destinations. The partnership—which has Tote Taxi transporting luggage while BLADE transports people—eliminates the issue of weight restrictions on private aircraft and the need for passengers to pay for extra seats.
Candela says, “Not everyone can afford to take a helicopter out, but by booking their bag with Tote Taxi, we can offer our clients a more comfortable travel experience.”
“The community has been so supportive and eager to spread the word,” Candela says. “It feels like they really want this to succeed and it makes me feel like I’m not in this alone.” Candela is currently expanding Tote Taxi to the North Fork.
For more information, visit totetaxi.com or call 631-595-5100.