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"I'd come home from school, starving. I would fix a mayonnaise sandwich for my little brothers and me to eat."
Growing up, Sebastian Festa was focused on survival more than his own success. It was all he knew. Born in Haiti, Festa and his family eventually immigrated to the U.S. where his parents continued to struggle to support him and his two younger brothers.
"Life just had to get better," he said reflecting on his teen years. "I wasn't quite sure how, but just a little better."
In his 20s, Festa found success through selling hard-to-find, pop culture collectible items on Amazon. He earned enough money to support his wife and young daughter, but "I also wanted to be someone who could have an impact on my local community and create opportunities for my family and for other immigrants."
In 2018, Festa became a Delivery Service Partner (DSP) with Amazon. The program gives entrepreneurs a head start in building and growing a successful package delivery business with low startup costs, built-in demand, and access to Amazon's technology and logistics experience. "I didn't have a logistics background at all," he said. "Amazon was able to help me become an entrepreneur, a successful one at that."
Festa is now CEO and owner of Prime Lightning Logistics. He and his more than 60 driver associates help deliver Amazon packages in Orlando, Florida. Every morning Festa leads his team in a standup meeting alongside his two brothers – Fabian is his operations manager, and Travis heads up safety and compliance. The whole team then works together to load up 30 branded vans with Amazon packages before they hit the road.
"It is a symphony. I'm the conductor, and it flows like magic around you," said Festa.
I didn't have a logistics background at all. Amazon was able to help me become an entrepreneur, a successful one at that.
"We're excited to help individuals start their own delivery company at a very exciting time in the industry," said Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations. "Coming from a family of small business owners, it brings me great pride to see this program help aspiring entrepreneurs like Sebastian grow and thrive with his small business."
Amazon recently introduced free one-day delivery for Prime members, creating even more opportunities for entrepreneurs. Customers see Amazon-branded delivery vans on the road, operated by Festa and other small business owners as the company continues to invest in its transportation infrastructure. Festa's Prime Lightning Logistics is one of 200 new small package delivery businesses that have launched since the inception of the program. Amazon hopes to help hundreds more entrepreneurs start their own businesses this year.
Festa admits running his business isn't easy. Prime Lightning Logistics is responsible for hundreds of package deliveries each day. Festa oversees all of it – including a growing fleet of delivery vans that require regular maintenance. "It definitely takes courage. There were moments where I felt that I couldn't do this. But then I see my kids, I see my wife. I think of my brothers. And I just tell myself, 'Keep going, keep going.'"
Festa's wife Fiona manages the company finances, in addition to having another job, and the business continues to grow. He started his company in October 2018 with five delivery vans. He now has 30 vans and more than 60 employees. And, he's hiring.
"I built a family business. I'm creating jobs. When I see a fleet of Amazon vans coming down the yard, I see something that I never thought was possible. Based on my history, and the very low odds I had as a child and a teenager to be an entrepreneur, I now see that anything's possible."
Learn more about becoming a Delivery Service Partner.