Raven Hernandez, CEO of Earth Rides

Antioch native Raven Hernandez says she wanted to bring Earth Rides and its accessibility to clean technology to Nashville.

It’s no secret that starting or maintaining a small business is extremely challenging in today’s world due to the lasting effects of COVID-19.

But it appears that Camping World CEO, and host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” Marcus Lemonis, has seen enough.

With a pledge of $50 million, Lemonis and his wife, Bobbi, created the Lemon-AID Foundation.

The fund focuses on assisting and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners, particularly minorities and women that have lacked superior guidance and resources.

While the foundation would like to help as many businesses as they can, the foundation wants it to be clear that these are not just handouts.

According to the Lemon-AID website, “Each entrepreneur will be required to know the ins and outs of their business, have a thorough understanding of their numbers, and be prepared to prove why they qualify for Lemon-AID.”

One of the women who caught the eyes of both Lemonis and the foundation is CEO of Earth Rides and Antioch native Raven Hernandez.

It all came as a bit of surprise to Hernandez, who said it was her husband’s idea to apply for the grant from Lemonis and she did not find out until her husband told her the news of being approved for a $25,000 grant.

Earth Rides is a ride-hail company similar to Uber and Lyft, but there’s one major difference that separates them from others such as Uber and Lyft — their use of all-electric vehicles.

How did it begin?

For years, Hernandez had her sights set on law school and would eventually attend Pepperdine University in Los Angeles.

All looked to be going according to plan — until it wasn’t.

Due to air quality problems that the city of Los Angeles was emitting, Hernandez’s health started to deteriorate.

“I was going to medical specialists and doctors and they weren’t making anything better. In fact, they were making it worse,” she said.

With a rich history of music experience thanks to her days in Nashville, her next thought was to become a musician’s attorney and work in entertainment law.

Once again though, it didn’t work out, and Hernadez was left wondering what was next.

“My husband said to me ‘why don’t you do something you’re passionate about,’ and I said the only thing I’m passionate about is health.”

She said that she was cautious at first entering this industry due to the lack of revenue and the challenges of convincing other people about health.

“It all came down to how do we make others choose better for the environment and for themselves,” Hernandez said.

With her husband’s experience in both the start-up and tech fields and Hernandez’s love for health, Earth Rides was born and officially launched in her hometown of Nashville in October of 2020.

The decision to move back to her hometown was centered on improving the quality of living and riding in the Music City.

“There are days where the air quality is worse than Los Angeles and we have one-fourth of the population,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference in my home,” she later added.

Thanks to the efforts of Hernandez and her husband, along with the help of Lemonis’ grant, Earth Rides has been able to assist drivers’ wages, increase employee bonuses, and cover a handful of company costs.

For more information visit www.earthrideshare.com.

Earth Rides is just one of the many female-founded and owned businesses that Lemonis has helped.

Last weekend, Layla Renner, who is the CEO and founder of a woman-owned online candle brand received $25,000 from Lemonis.

The business’ name is Calm and Scents Candle Co., which is a play-on ‘common sense candles’ she said.

The company, based out of Ohio, has shipped to all 50 states across the country, but Renner said Tennessee, and Nashville specifically, have been hot spots for these soothing products.

And while customers have been receiving Renner’s candles with ease, the work behind this process is a different story.

After years of continuous school and business work in a 100-foot dorm room, Renner found herself struggling.

“I was at a very low point of my business. I didn’t have the money to do what I needed to do.”

Exhausted, she laid in bed one night scrolling through Twitter before stumbling upon a post about the Lemon-Aid Foundation and the grants they were offering.

She tweeted at Lemonis, explaining her story about her business before shutting off her phone.

Five hours later at 3 a.m., she woke up to a message congratulating her on receiving a $25,000 business grant.

“I remember asking the universe, ‘If I am supposed to do this, give me a sign.’ And within 24 hours, $25,000 fell out of the sky,” she said.

It’s an experience that seems right out of a movie.

Renner used the money immediately, hiring two employees while putting a down payment on her first manufacturing space, which is coincidentally right next to her old dorm.

“Every morning when I get my morning coffee, I look up and see my dorm room building and just think about how lucky I am,” she says.

Earth Rides and Calm and Scents Candle Co. are two of the 50-plus businesses Lemonis has helped.

He stated in a press release his goal is to “keep Main Street USA alive and well during the economic troubles that COVID-19 has brought to our small business owners.”

For additional information about the Lemon-AID Foundation or to apply for a grant, you can visit Lemonis’ website at marcuslemonis.com/lemon-aid-foundation.

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