Justin Jackrel has a habit of exceeding expectations.
While his classmates were learning the basics of business at Warrington, Jackrel already had his own business selling scooters out of his dorm room.
So when Jackrel (BABA '05) and his staff at citEcar Electric Vehicles set out to build a golf cart that could travel 75 miles on a single charge—the industry average is 30 miles—it was no surprise that Jackrel's team surpassed that mark with ease. citEcar's new model, the 6PR XLC, recently traveled 105 miles on a single charge, a 350 percent increase over the industry standard.
The recent achievement is another illustration of Jackrel's incredible journey to becoming one of the nation's most imaginative entrepreneurs.
Jackrel, 31, got his start in the scooter industry in high school. He attended a trade show and was asked by a vendor to sell their electric scooters online for $900 each. After selling a couple of scooters, Jackrel made an astute observation.
“Something this simple should not cost $900,” he said.
So Jackrel went to work. Utilizing motors from weed whackers and larger tires, he constructed a stand-up gas scooter. Jackrel said he arranged for production to be done at Chinese factories, and was the first person in the U.S. to ever import gas scooters from China. The gas scooters, which he said sold by the hundreds weekly, sold for a more affordable $399.
Later, Jackrel expanded his business into motor scooters, Go Karts and golf carts. His success caught the attention of Empact, a firm specializing in entrepreneurship, in 2012. Jackrel's company, Road Rat Motors, was named to the Empact100 list honoring the nation's leading entrepreneurs age 30 and under, and whose annual revenues exceed $100,000. The honor earned him a trip to the White House.
“It was definitely a humbling experience,” Jackrel said. “You think you're doing these great things, and then you meet an 18-year-old kid with a company of 700 employees. But it was fun. You get to make these great connections with the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country.”
The Empact honor validated Jackrel's methods, and gave him additional confidence that he could tackle any challenge like maximizing mileage in the 6PR XLC. Jackrel said the central components of a golf cart are all the same—a controller, motor and batteries. Jackrel said the key to the team's breakthrough was finding the right combination of those parts and harnessing solar energy. After six months of testing, the 6PR XLC was born.
“The best way to put it is you need to find a way to have the controller, motor, batteries and solar power talk to each other best,” Jackrel said. “It took a lot of trial and error. Our goal was 75 miles, and we blew that out of the water.
"We're not going to rest on our laurels. We've never been that kind of company. We're always trying to improve, and although this is a great accomplishment, we're not going to stop here.”