“Being mobile is key”: Local entrepreneur shares the perks of running a mobile business

The number of mobile businesses is on the rise. The flexibility provided by having a movable business is appealing to entrepreneurs and the overhead costs associated with a mobile business are often far less than those associated with opening a brick-and-mortar location. 

Customers benefit from the entrepreneurial trend too. Technology makes booking, finding and paying for services easier than ever before.

Locally, mobile businesses are present and popular. From food trucks, hair salons and cleaning services, Fort Wayne entrepreneurs are changing up the status quo and meeting customers where they’re at. 

Nakia Philips owns Keepin’ it Klean Mobile Detailing, an entirely mobile business that allows him to service customers whenever and wherever. 

“Being mobile is key,” he says. “People love that they don’t have to go anywhere and they don’t have to drop their car off. It’s very convenient.”

Nakia Philips' van, advertising his business, Keepin' It Klean.Based in Fort Wayne, Philips doesn’t set boundaries on where he can take his business. The farthest he’s gone to date are towns surrounding Fort Wayne, like Grabill, New Haven and Huntertown, but he said for the right price, he’d be willing to visit customers just about anywhere.

“Someone just asked me to come to Indianapolis,” he says, “I haven’t been that far, but if they pay right, I’ll go wherever.” 

He works full-time for the city and cleans cars on the side. His passion for clean cars goes back to high school.

Before and after photos of work done by Keepin' It Klean Mobile Detailing.“I went to Harding, so we had an image of being fresh and clean,” explains Philips. “Fresh shoes, clean cars– so I’ve been into it ever since I was a kid.”

After an aunt asked him to clean her car and raved about his work, he knew he could do something with his skills. But he didn’t officially start his business until two years ago, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I started when COVID was going on,” says Philips. “People like everything to be clean and sanitized and all that. I could come to people and didn’t have to interact with them.”

For customers, it’s as easy as visiting Philips’ booking website, selecting a service and time, and then inputting their information. Philips lets customers know when he’s arrived, cleans the car, and marks the service as complete on his site. 

At the start of his business, Philips exclusively used steam to detail cars, something that differentiated him from his peers. He says steam requires less water and is faster than other typical detailing cleaning methods.

Before and after photos of work done by Keepin' It Klean Mobile Detailing.This year, Philips was awarded a SEED Business Grant. Introduced in February 2023, the SEED Business Grant was created by The Summit City Entrepreneur and Enterprise District to help businesses with operating equipment, interior enhancements, service expansion, and professional services. Overall, the goal is to reach entrepreneurs and make an impactful change in the dynamics of their businesses. 

Nikeshia Fomby, community development specialist for SEED and the Urban Enterprise Association, says Philips is the second entrepreneur to receive the grant. 

“Nakia was the 2nd business owner awarded the grant,” says Fomby. “From that award, he was able to get a van wrap to assist with marketing and expand his customer base, and equipment such as a power washer for more efficient use of his time. Nakia proudly displays the SEED logo in his van window and we are a proud sponsor of such an amazing business.”

This story was made possible by SEED Fort Wayne.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.