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Fireside chat with Christopher Davenport, CEO of AutoParts4Less

Who is Christopher Davenport?

I’m a father of three children, an entrepreneur, a survivor, a trailblazer, and a philanthropist. I love life, and I’ve managed to stay pretty positive by trying to be a role model. I try to help others all the time, and I work hard to make the world better.

What’s the story behind AutoParts4Less?

I saw that there really wasn’t a voice for automotive buyers and sellers specifically, so we built a successful ecommerce platform, with about 60,000 items available for sale, within a really tight niche. What makes us profoundly different is that we’re a multi-vendor marketplace for automotive parts. Marketplace businesses have become valuable for consumers and wildly successful for CEOs. Last year, consumers spent about $2.69 trillion on online marketplaces. These platforms bring so much value to consumers and buyers because sellers are forced to compete to make a sale. Our company doesn’t have too many rules and regulations and base fees like larger establishments such as Amazon, Walmart, and so on. It’s really about networking, and creating different ways to connect, whether offering promos or discounts on parts or installation services. With us, the sellers get paid instantly on sales, instead of waiting sometimes days or weeks through Amazon’s system. We’re just trying to be the best tech-driven, one-stop-shop for automotive parts.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

My actual training was in professional healthcare. I had absolutely no experience in ecommerce and I didn’t get into it until 2014. I didn’t understand all the logistics, the platforms, the payment systems, and website design and especially programming. So, I started selling on eBay first, but it was really hard to figure out. I lacked that technological knowledge, and I felt like I was playing catch-up. We ended up coding everything in house. I had no idea about any of that so muddling through, having some failures, really helped us in the long run. I relied on others to help me with the areas I didn’t know, and it worked out great.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

I would say going public. It opened us up to scrutiny and haters but allowed me to have control of the enterprise. I’m the captain of my destiny. I get to dictate where we go. It’s the best thing for me and my personality and, so far, it’s been great. We’re growing in revenues every year. I’m fearless so I really feel confident too. I was also proud of getting to India and working with programmers there, especially at the height of COVID. I never knew I could do that. It’s amazing what you can do when you try to do it for the first time.

What is your vision for the future of AutoParts4Less?

AutoParts4Less will be a great marketplace, and we’ll spread outwards to other countries. I want to reach all areas, anything motorized, and I want people to have the same experience throughout. And I really want to get onto NASDAQ, that’s the main goal for me. Once you’re on NASDAQ, there’s the excitement of watching your company’s name feed across the ticker and realizing now everyone knows you exist. You’re not some OTC stock waiting to be discovered anymore. We also will eventually need a Board of Directors as part of the requirements to join NASDAQ.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Business is all about adapting. You must be malleable. Liftkits4Less is doing great, but Autoparts4less was made because I was forced to make changes. It’s about responding to the market forces out there. You can’t sit around and say “Life’s good”, because maybe the next day your business is closed. So, you have to figure out what needs to be done when the business climate changes. You need to embrace diversification. You need to look to hedge risks. It’s human nature to relax, but a business owner has to be the eternal pessimist and constantly paranoid. People set in their ways are going to fail in most instances. You have to look at what the market is doing and respond to it. COVID has tested us tremendously. It’s been a climate a lot of businesses didn’t know how to respond to, and therefore they had to close up shop. The other biggest challenge for business owners is money. You always need money. You can’t expect to handle everything yourself and expenses can jump out at you anytime. It pays to keep money on hand, or ask for it, or, like I did, generate through stock, where people invest in your success.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

There’s really not too much. We rely on the internet obviously, but we have a propriety ecommerce platform fully coded from scratch, and a unique website design that properly and attractively showcases the products to consumers.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

You know, I read someplace that a good CEO reads about 2-3 books a week. I just don’t do that. My Mom’s a writer and she sends me books all the time, and everyone in my house laughs because they know I’ll I never read them. I’d have to say I read my phone the most. I’m always reading articles about the latest trends, ecommerce stories and how-tos, how something somewhere will impact a business.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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