From $0 to Millions *Houston Crosta Origin Story*
Royalty, a car rental company started by the narrator in 2015, has grown into a national and possibly even global brand.
The founder, Houston Crosta, is looking to transition Royalty into an all-around luxury transportation company, providing customers with access to supercars, helicopters and potentially their own airline.
Despite current economic conditions due to the pandemic, Crosta remains confident that Royalty will be one of the strongest companies left after this tough time passes.
Crosta's vision for Royalty is for it to become the only supercar experience in Las Vegas by 2025. With his hard work, enthusiasm and passion, he believes it can become a reality.
Welcome back to the channel, guys. Today I'm gonna answer the longlived question on how royalty started.
This is like a thing that I've answered with snippets of the story from when I first started to when we're in the middle to where we're at the end. I've answered it quite a few times, but I figured, let's just make an entire video dedicated to how how I started the royalty exotic cars business and what it led to along the way. So let's start off first. This is about 20, 13, 14. My nephew and I atwood he lived in my house, we lived together.
And we had made this tiny little business plan about how I'm going to drive lamborghini for free. It's really funny because when I look back that far and I think about it, I really lies how naive I really was. But I wrote a list down and they had a gerdo, I had a 430, I had a BMW M Six. I had all these like, small sports cars. Nothing over $200,000 at the time, really.
And I made a plan on how I was going to rent these. I took them to my dad, my uncle, for advice, not for money, because they don't have any. But everybody thought I was absolutely bat shit crazy. So at the time I was a cable guy. I was working for centurylink and Cox Cable.
I did piecework. So what that means is I kind of contracted for all the cable companies around and I went and did the outside line work and I traveled to North Carolina, to Hawaii, all these different places, got contracts and gigs for two to three months at a time. And it was a great job. I mean, at one point I was making upwards of $5,000 a week, which is pretty epic in my early 20s, right? And those were where it was disaster work or strike work.
Right. Normally, cable guys made between 3000 and $3,500 a week. If you worked seven days that you were allowed to work one, three on, one off. And it was a pretty cool job. When I was like I wasn't single.
I was still early days with my wife. Me and my wife met back in 2011. I think it was epic, though. She would travel with me and we would go through that. But obviously things in that industry were like a roller coaster because there was never consistency in work in one place.
So you had to be willing to move around. In early 2000 or late 2014, I was injured. I got rearended by a hummer H Two. And I had a little Mini Cooper. John Cooper works.
And I broke a lower portion on my back, and that portion in my lumbar was impossible for me to put this big ladder on my shoulder again. So I couldn't compress, and I still can't do it to this day. I needed the back surgery and I had to have a fusion, but I refused to do that. And I kind of was like, I'm just going to change my line of work. So at the time, I had a 2015 gtr.
Right? Now, it was a $2,000 car payment. It was red, it was a carbon trunk. It was super cool. It was like the perfect car, right?
And I still remember the first moment I bought that car. But when my unemployment started, it was okay. I mean, here I was getting $400 a week, so my only real bills were just the car payment and gas and stuff. And so I had like $40,000 in savings that lasted about four and a half months. And I really started to get worried because I wasn't really able to get another job.
I applied at every nightclub, every day club, a lot of casino valet jobs, anything that didn't require me lifting anything. And literally, I did not get hired for any job at all. I went to the crappiest nightclub in all of Las Vegas called The Act at the time, and I swear it was like a shoe in. Anybody who applied got the job, and I did not get the job. So I guess that tells you maybe it wasn't meant to be, or maybe I'm just not a very good interviewer.
So I have this car and I'm driving around Las Vegas. I'm about to meet my wife for lunch because she was working Hawkeyeson. It was like, it's a nightclub here in Vegas. And she just got off work, and we were meeting to have breakfast lunchish. This place opened at ten 3011 on Las Vegas boulevard.
So I drive from my house, which is in the west side of the city, down Las Vegas boulevard. And I was a little early, so I just took a long way and I passed by a portion of the Strip right in front of the MGM Grand, right kind of caddy corner to the park, MGM what it is today. And there was a white gtr outside and two Ferrari 360 modena. And they all had like it didn't say for rent. It said, drive me.
And I thought, man, that's really interesting. I'm going to see if I could rent my gtr. So I go to every car rental company in the city after my lunch, and literally every single person said, no, a Nissan gtr is not a good rental car. No one's going to pay for a Nissan. We want ferraris and lamborghinis.
And I'm thinking, man, you guys are so wrong about this car. But I'm not discouraged. I actually go back to the place to where I saw the white one. That particular place was just like kind of like a little parking lot off of Las Vegas boulevard. There was like a sidewalk cutting off, and these two guys were out there charging $100 for you to drive the car for basically like 2 miles, right?
With one of the employees in the passenger seat. So kind of like you're just walking by and they're like, drive this Ferrari right now. Give me $100 and you can just drive it around the parking lot. Basically, that's what it was. And I thought it was really wild and crazy and probably stupid, but there were so many people willing to pay for that.
I go to the guy and I'm like, hey, man, I'm selling my red gtr here. It's a really cool car. It's very similar to the white one you have. Are you interested in buying it? Because I have a really expensive car payment and I really don't want anymore.
I make you a really good deal. And he said, no, I don't want to buy the car. I already have a gtr. But if you want to rent it, you're welcome to just stay here next to my gtr. And after I rent my three cars, you can rent yours and you give me half.
And I was like, wow. I literally went home, like, super excessively excited because I had remembered a couple of years ago that I had made this little business plan about renting cars. And I thought, there's no way this is real. This guy is going to let me rent his car and I'm going to get half the money. Which I was thinking, I could make $300 every day, right?
If I rented it six times, I get $300. They get $300, and everything's cool. And that replaces my income that I had as a cable guy. Well, the first week went great. I actually made more than $300 a day.
I was making like $500 a day, and I was having the time of my life. I mean, I was sitting in the back seat of the gtr, because with the gtr I had four seats. And so I'm letting like, a husband and wife take the card. We have like a little route, and I made mine a little longer than the other guys so that I had a little advantage and I had some more repeat customers, and it was pretty dope, right? So a couple of weeks, they're going by and I'm having a great time.
I even took pictures of all the money that I was making back in the day. I was showing my wife. I couldn't believe it. Like $500, $600. I mean, I think even one day I did 19 rentals, like 19 drives.
It was like a weekend with a fight. It was just non stop. I mean, I was working from eight in the morning to midnight. One in the morning, and it was just seven days a week, no time off, nothing. It was wild.
And then the guy that ran that place, his name was, ASI he came and approached, someone approached him about putting scooters next to my car, that they wanted to pay the same thing where they were going to give him half if they Rented The Scooters Next To Where My Car Was. And I was like, there's no way I'm going to let this happen. This Weird. It's like some sleazy scooter seller guy. And I was like, oh, my God.
I'm never going to make any money now. All my customers are going to go to the other side of the parking lot where they had their gtr, and it was going to be like, game over. It was a terrible thing for me. So I told Aussie, I said, dude, no worries. I will do it.
I'm doing the scooters. I got it covered. So I had a few thousand bucks, and basically, I went to the scooter store and I bought six of these. Like zumi or zoomer scooters. They were, like, pretty cool looking, and I put the most astronomical price tag on them.
$10 an hour. Okay. Which in the grand scheme of things like the market price for a scooter back in 2015 was $20 for 24 hours. Right. So basically, like $0.75 an hour was the market price.
And I put $10. I just wanted to rent my gtr and be completely done with this. Put the scooters there. If they rent it, they rent it. If not, it didn't matter.
Well, turned out people liked that $10 per hour because they were giving me $10 for 1 hour. And I was like, these people are so they're they're so stupid. Why would they pay this much? But no one did any research. They were just walking by, seeing a scooter, seeing $10.
They were hot. It was 100 plus degrees outside. They just wanted to get down the street, eat something, come back or go to a store or caesar's Palace or whatever. And I thought, wow, like you guys are willing to pay $10 for 1 hour. People would give me a $10 bill picture of their driver's license, take off on the scooter, come back in like four or 5 hours, and then give me another $50.
Be like I had the time of my life. So I got to thinking. I was like, wait, this is a real thing. So I made this list of all these places like pawn, stars and rick's, restorations and counts, customs and every place that you could imagine in Vegas that was on the ane Channel or Discovery Channel. We had a whole bunch of TV show places.
And I made this list and I said, if you guys go to all these places, you can get to them on the scooter. It's a whole day trip. People would come back in 10 hours, pay me $100 for the scooter. That is, like, literally worth $20 a day. So those six scooters turned into 50 scooters literally overnight.
And, like, the gtr ended up going in the back, and I started making, like, $20,000 a week renting scooters. That was gross. I had to give half to ossie, and I had to have pay for insurance and all this other extra stuff. So I wasn't making a lot more money than the car, but per day, but I was making a lot more revenue, and it was less liability because the Scooter was essentially a bicycle. There was no license plates.
There was no driver's license or helmet required. Sorry, motorcycle license or helmet required. So it was, like, a really easy business. So I kind of transitioned into that, and I thought, well, I've got some money saved up. I've always wanted to buy a gallardo.
Why don't I trade the gtr for a gallardo? I can drive it for myself. And then if I find, like, a really cool person, I'll let them drive that car, and I'll I'll sit in it, right? So I'll raise the price. I'll do $250 for the gerdo, right?
And then I'll keep riding the Scooters, and I'll be my predominant way of business. I did that. And then, like, this is like, the middle of July. The city came and were like, you're not licensed to rent cars here to these guys. And I look at them, I'm like, oh, what?
And apparently they had a license that was off the strip, and their location that they were at, they were using for marketing. But because we were giving people the cars in that spot, it was like a rental place. And the city came in and was like, you need to fix this. So basically, a month goes by, and they make amends with the city, and we go back, right? So we get to go back there, and everything is all kosher again.
We continue to rent cars. Now scooters are going out. I got a Slingshot, which was like the first one, and started to rent the Slingshot to the same Scooter customer, except this way it was a little bigger, a little safer, and it was obviously more expensive. It was $300 for 4 hours and then $600 for the whole day. That worked very, very well.
And I got kind of like a big head. I was successful. I had a lot of cash flow coming in. Things were going well, and I came home and I told my wife that this was a really good business. I really like this business.
And then I started to kind of invest more money into it. I added an Audi R eight. I added a maserati convertible, things that I could easily finance with, like, 10,000, $5,000 down. Nothing, like, super crazy, but basically, like, anything around like, $80 to $100,000 cars. And it started to go relatively well.
And then I wanted to move it up to the big game. But doing all of that, adding all those cars, I started to incur a lot more expense, which is kind of a confusing thing because a lot of people, when they start their business, they see cash flow, but they don't see the end, right? So we see the daily revenue on the lamborghini or the daily revenue on the maserati or whatever it is. But when you service that car, when you sell that car, when you insure that car, it becomes a totally different game. And I started getting these massive service bills.
Like, I took the maserati dealer had a $14,000 repair, and I was like, what? That was more money than I had made on the car in the whole month, right? It was like a month and a half worth of revenue. And that kind of like I pumped the brakes real quick. That was, like, the first big one.
I was like, whoa, because don't forget that I'm splitting this money with these guys. So I'm getting 50% of the gross revenue. And when I had to incur that $14,000 expense, it was like a knife. It hurts so bad because we baby grossed 18 $19,000 a month from that car renting almost every single day. This is the middle of the summer convertibles, four cedar.
It was a great car. But once I gave them half, then paid the insurance, I was left with, like, $6,000. And then I had the $2,000, $1600 car payment, right? I had four grand left. Now, if I just had the four grand, it would have been great.
But when I had to pay the 14, it was a huge problem. So then I was like, whoa, this is crazy. So I went to Austin and I said, hey, man, we need to split this service bill. And he I don't know, he just was not happy about that. His position was he was the landlord, and that was the way he made his money.
He didn't care what happened with the car. And, like, I paid the bill. I wasn't happy. And I was like, this is not cool. I don't really think this is the way I should do this.
So that was, like, the first step to me starting my own rental company, that one service bill. Then one of the cars got into an accident, and that was, like, the final straw. It was more of an incident, but it was expensive. And so that being said, I was completely done. I took all my cars, and I'll save the drama, but there was a lot of drama back and forth.
And at the time, ossi had rearranged his fleet with basically, he only had two cars, and I had, like, six. So I was making all of the money. All the revenue was coming from me. I own all the scooters. I own the slingshots.
I owned most of the cars, right? He had a four, five, eight, and I think one of the 360s still. And then that was it. And I was like, I wasn't getting a portion of anything else, and I was giving up half my money. So that's how I found the the 43 five building at Royalty.
I went to the landlord there, and basically, I told him you know, I said, I've been renting cars on this side over here, and I want to I want to branch off on my own. And this particular space on Dean Martin had about it was a ppf place. Had about, like, a five car garage. Right? Now, you can fit 25 cars in here or 20 cars in here, but when it had it had, like, a lot of offices, and it had a lot of, like, space, but it was designed for, like, clear bra and window tint.
So there was space, but there wasn't a lot of space. And a few of the rental car companies in town had looked at this space, and they all passed on it because they were like, well, I have no place to store my cars. And I thought that that was really crazy, because when the landlord asked me if there was enough storage, I said, Why do I need storage? I'm going to rent the cars. I'm not a car storage facility.
And me being so naive, basically, thinking I was going to rent the cars every single day allowed me to rent this place and not think about any of the times where I wasn't going to rent them. Turned out that I did need a little bit more space in the future. But when I rented this place, I signed the lease, and I sold my house, and I went home. I basically told my wife that I need all of the equity, that I have all of our savings, every single thing. I need all the money, because I'm literally starting my own car rental company.
And basically, I don't even think she responded. I think she just laughed at me. I really don't know. anyways, we had, like, a small conversation, and I kind of convinced her, and we basically said that she was going to help me, partner with me, work at royalty. It was going to be me and her, and we were going to start our own business.
So we put our house on the market. We sold it. We got about $75,000, I think $80,000 from our equity. And I bought a red hurricane. That was what we called betsy.
That was our 200,000 miles Hurricane that I reluctantly sold about a year and a half ago. But it was cool. It was time, but it was a little sentimental for me. I sold the house. I moved it to a small rental.
I literally drove I borrowed my friend's fiat 500 little electric car. I drove it to and from my house every day. I work seven days a week here. And, like, I'm a year into this business, and it's doing well, right? Everything is okay.
I've got cars. People are renting them. I put a big sign on the front of the building, and it's all going well. And then basically, one day, like my competitors, I changed the business to unlimited miles. And one day, when they decided to copy me.
Then things started to struggle a little bit. I had to market and do these crazy things, and so I started making early YouTube videos. These are the first videos on this channel. They were, like, how to operate a car, right? And I started making these videos, and the Slingshot one got, like, 2 million views, and people started to come in and see from this content.
They were, like, learning that we rented these cars. And it was really interesting because I had zero interest in social media. When I say zero, I mean, like, negative interest. So these videos started to, like, get me exposure, right? And they were educational.
We never ran ads on them. They literally had no intention at all for anything other than for me to show the customers when they rented the car online or when they booked it early. I would send them the video and get them prepared to drive this car. Because it's, like, a long process. I mean, if you drive a lamborghini, you have to learn a new way to drive a car, right?
So it's a very different approach to most people's experience in operating a vehicle. So the social media is working, and I decide this is a good thing. We're going to keep it going. At the time, I hadn't had, like, a big hypercar yet. And this is, like, probably like, early 2016, maybe even almost the summer.
I meet my now business partner, kirk, at a wheel shop. I was changing the tires on one of my cars. He had an event to door, and basically I went to him and I was like, hey, man, do you want to loan me your inventory, or I want to rent it? He was like, no, I just actually sold it. But what do you mean you want to rent it?
And we had these conversations for about three, four weeks. He was an orthopedic surgeon. He still is, and wasn't really going anywhere. kirk, later, I find out, was just kind of like buying and selling cars as a hobby. You only buy one or two a year, whatever it was.
One day, I just texted him out of the blue, and I said, hey, Will, you owe me 300 grand for 20% interest on a three year term? And, like, knowing kirk right now, I probably could have got him at, like, nine and a half percent. But anyways, I threw out 20%, and he just responded with yes. So I found an Eventador that at the time this is a long time ago, and if you guys have known cars for a while, there was a period in 1617, I don't really know the year, that o'gara coach was kind of like a bad business, right? They had a lot of issues.
They were going through, like, a bankruptcy or something like that. And they had put a 2015 red on black aventador roadster from $435,000 down to $350,000 to sell it, like, in 1 second. So I called kirk. I said, look, man, I'm going to put down fifty K. I ended up putting down a little bit more than that because there was, like, some fees and some other stuff.
But I put down a little over $50,000. You put up 300. It was $15,000 a month car payment. And I said, boom, here you go. And kirk's thinking like, this kid is going to make me one payment, two payments.
He's going to get a refund. I'm going to get an event at all for, like, 280 grand. I'll be able to sell it for 400. It'll be no brainer for me. So we do the deal.
We buy the car. And I had a red Hurricane at the time. It was so stupid. I wrapped this beautiful red aventador white. But I had this car for a while, and it made an enormous amount of money because nobody knew renting of ventilators was profitable.
No one in town had one. This was, like, the first Avenador for rent in Vegas. And I wrapped it white. It was super sick. And I made payment after payment after payment.
So four months in, kirk comes to the office, and he's like, what are you guys doing here? Right? So he meets denise. I had an employee at that time. His name was Josh.
So he meets both of them. He really gets known me a little bit better, and he's like, Look, I want to buy into this business. I like this business. So essentially, long story short, we made a deal. A million dollars, basically, for 50%.
And the million dollars was paid with four cars. So we had a 654, five, eight Spider, the events at Ore, right? So that loan went away. And then I can't remember the last one, but it was four cars essentially totaling a million dollars in value. And it was like a catapult.
It was just like slingshot me into the leaders of the city. Nobody could mess with us. I had the top cars. I was renting them with limited miles for all in prices. It was like a flat fee, no additional bullshit.
It was a simple process, and social media kept doing well. We started instagram. My wife I mean, we had 40,000 followers on Instagram in a matter of, I don't know, like, six, seven months. And it was super cool. People started to talk about it, and then I got the wild idea.
This was like, mid 2017. I went to kirk, and I was like, kirk, I want to buy a Bugatti. And he was like, I don't even know if anybody thought that I was serious, but I was like, yeah, I want to buy a Bugatti. I found a bugatti in Arizona. It's red.
I want to buy it. I want to put on the website, and I want to rent it. And he was like, Houston, you're crazy. But let's talk about it. So anyways, we end up agreeing that buying a Bugatti was a good idea.
And so we buy this Bugatti. We ended up with the mansori car, not the red one, which is a great thing because the mensori car was way super special. And I fly to Miami, I buy this car, and I sit in it, and I immediately call him. I said kirk. Sorry, man.
I remember I told you I was going to rent this car. That was a bad idea. I'm never renting this car. I'll pay the car. I don't care.
I mean, we split it. So I said, I'll pay you back or we'll do a loan or we'll do something. I don't want to rent this car. And so basically, the Bugatti became kind of my marketing. And like, no one had seen that.
So I did put it on the website, right, for rent 25,000 a day. It was the real car. It was in the showroom. I started making ads that people could come and see the car, and we made YouTube videos with it. And that's when I met damon from daily driven exotics.
He had like 100,000 subscribers at the time. He came in, and he went to another rental car company in town trying to rent a car. But he was from Canada, and so I was the only one who had offered international insurance. To this day, I actually still am the only one. But I created this insurance policy so that I could sell insurance for Exotic or supercars to people that are from out of the country.
So that rental car company refers him to us, and he ends up we make a kind of like some deal. And he comes in, he's like, I want the events at all and some other car for 24 hours. I want to make some videos with it. And I was like, dude, listen to him. I've got almost half the subscribers you got, man.
Like, I don't know what's going to happen here. Whatever. I don't want to go tear up the car and do all this stuff. So we make this deal to where if I don't get $10,000 in direct revenue from his rental that I was giving him for free, he would pay me the full price. And so it turns out that he had a lot of Canadian following, and Canadians love to rent cars.
So, yes, I got more than $10,000 in rental, and that's what helped mine and Damage relationship start to spawn. And we became friends and, you know, I guess coworkers. And we all had a common goal. I had a lot of crazy cars, and he had a YouTube channel that he was trying to build up. And so he called me in like, I don't know, two, three months in, and was like, hey, man, do you want to do some donuts in the Bugatti?
And I said, obviously, that'd be. Super fun. He was like, couldn't believe it. So I bought him some plane tickets. He flies out here and we make the donut bugatti video, which is epic.
It's a super sick video. It gets millions of views. And in that same week, we filmed, like, the uber video where I picked up a lot of people in the bugatti with uber. That one got a couple of million views. And then I met Alex toy, and we were making all these videos, and I'm putting all this content on these guys'channels, and I get arrested in my veyron.
And that just is like this massive, huge, big ordeal where I didn't know how to process it. It was kind of stupid. It's on the videos. You guys can google it if you want. But anyways, I got arrested in the veyron and it kind of made like local news.
It obviously went viral on YouTube. And from there, I mean, royalty was established. I mean, I had the royalties out of cars logo on the side. And it kind of like spawned me to start my own YouTube channel. Things with me and damon didn't work out for unrelated reasons.
We just had a difference of opinion on a lot of stuff. And we're both alphas and we fought and we fought before our big fight, and it was a big mess. So anyways, it was a good working relationship. We both benefited from it. He actually did his million subscriber videos here.
He did some donuts in the back in my parking lot. We're not on good terms now, but we ended things and we both went our separate ways. And we both have our independent businesses, and I think we helped each other grow those. And it worked out well for the two of us. So as I keep renting these cars, I just get more traction and more traction.
I make the oil change videos, and social media just takes royalty by storm. And now we're here. So we have close to a million subscribers. We're on the closer side. We're almost a 700.
And royalty becomes more of like a marketing company versus a car rental company. Now we still have these great cars to rent, and things are going well. We've got all the crazy supercars, the svga, the sto. We always make it a point to have the best of the best. But royalty has proven that the content is more valuable than the business in today's world.
So royalty started off as a car rental business, but now has become more of a national brand, maybe even a global brand. And I'm excited for the future because we're doing things to create new entities and new ideas with transportation. I have a lot of great things coming in aviation. The last couple of years, I've been super focused in aviation. Two years ago, we picked up a helicopter and we're doing strip tours.
And I'm looking at getting into, obviously, if you guys have watched the channel for a while. My airline, it's not like an airline, like commercial airline, but we're looking at picking up a falcon aircraft and doing some commercial services that are scheduled which would be considered kind of like an airline. But I want to transition royalty from car rentals into an all around luxury transportation company, branch out and kind of go along the lines of more of like a one stop shop. Car rentals are cool, but as the price of cars inflate, it's impossible to manage the rentals. I mean, if a hurricane when I first started was 250,000, now it's like 400,000, and people don't want to pay the same inflation, you know, 60, 70% inflation rate on the rental price.
So it's it's not really correlated. And so we're working through those things right now. But a lot of other companies in town are having a hard time with the current status and the pandemic and all that stuff. So, you know, I think we'll be the strongest and will be the last to survive this next couple of months and maybe even years, right? We've seen the economy pull into a recession in the last few weeks.
So I'm excited because when there's a downturn in the economy, the strong survive like the real players, right? I've been in this since 2015, and there wasn't really a slow economy back then, wasn't really a busy one, but we've seen it come up, and now we're going to see it come down. So this is 2022. You know, I can see by 2025 royalty being the only supercar experience in the country, or at least one of the only ones, for sure, las Vegas. But I'm kind of going to wrap this up because I've been talking for like 30 minutes and this is obviously my origin story for the business.
I'm not really sure where it's going to end up, but my future is it's got a cool path and I'm excited to do it. I have a lot of energy and I have a lot of excitement towards royalty. I obviously have Houston top chicken as well. But royalty is my baby, and I always give it the most love. That makes sense.
So anyways, thanks for watching, guys. Thanks for listening to this abnormally long story. And I hope you guys can subscribe and give me a thumbs up on this video because talking for 25 straight minutes is actually really hard. So you guys enjoy your day.