How Sophia Strother survived violence and built a multimillion dollar revenue company with just $10,000

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 14, 2024 1:50 PM EDT
Sophia Strother
Sophia Strother. Photo Credit: Hustle & Soul Magazine

Sophia Strother, 43, is the founder of a multimillion dollar delivery company called L2E Industries in Austin, Texas, and two other impact-driven ventures. Strother started L2E Industries in 2020 with $10,000, and within one year, her company became a million-dollar in revenue business, making her the first ever dollar millionaire in her family history.

Yet, her journey to success was far from easy. Strother’s narrative is one of overcoming numerous obstacles to emerge victorious. It mirrors the harsh realities of socio-economic challenges confronting many African-Americans.

According to an FBI report, African-American children represent 59 percent of all prostitution arrests. Furthermore, in a two-year assessment of suspected human trafficking cases, 40 percent of the victims were African-American.

After surviving child sexual abuse at 9, parental neglect due to their crack addiction, being forced into familial trafficking to sustain her parents’ drug habit, experiencing domestic violence, and becoming a single mother at 15, Strother is today a beacon of hope for others still fighting to survive the imbalanced societal violence.

“I consider myself to be a champion of “life after abuse” — a victor in realizing real love doesn’t hurt. I refuse to lay in my grave of deceased innocence. I refuse to be just another statistic,” says Strother.

Despite facing numerous challenges, Strother overcame them and pursued higher education. She successfully obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration. Throughout her journey, Strother received unwavering support from her grandmother, who helped her build a business acumen that continues to aid her in her entrepreneurial endeavors.

“My grandma really believed in me and she helped me to build a business acumen. Even though I had a child at the age of 15, I was still able to go to college and get my bachelors and masters in business administration,” she says.

At 20, while still a student, Strother started her first business, a consulting firm – Trustworthy Consulting, and by the time she graduated, she owned two homes and had two degrees.

The Multimillion Dollar Breakthrough

In 2018, while actively engaged in her consulting firm, Strother came across an article on Amazon’s expansion plans for its delivery network. The company was searching for partners to manage courier services for package delivery. Amazon outlined that accepted partners would require a minimum investment of $10,000 and could make approximately $300,000 in annual profits by operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles.

“I was reading a magazine and I saw an article about Amazon. The company was being ridiculed for not partnering with small businesses to do its deliveries. The article said that for $10,000, anyone could work with Amazon and potentially make $74,000 to $3 million a year,” said Strother. “As I read the Amazon article, I was sitting down thinking, wait a minute. Why not me?”

The article eventually became the elusive opportunity Strother had been searching for, prompting her to seize it swiftly. Despite lacking a transportation background, she decided to take her chances. She submitted an online application, resume, and financial documents. Strother highlighted her leadership initiatives and her deep passion for serving people and families in her community, which ultimately became one of the selling points that positioned her as one of the ideal candidates for the partnership job with Amazon.

However, Strother didn’t get the Amazon partnership on a platter. Amazon ran a background check on her, and almost a year later, in 2019, Amazon sent her a message for an interview in Seattle. Unfortunately, she missed the interview due to financial constraints and other challenges.

“Amazon wanted me to come to Seattle, Washington, to interview for the partnership, but I had to pay for the trip myself. I didn’t have the money or a babysitter, and with only one week to accept the interview, I turned it down. I didn’t believe I could do it,” said Strother.

However, a few months later, in 2019, fate granted Strother a second chance, which proved to be a positive turn of events for her. At that time, she was a 38-year-old single mother and survivor of sex trafficking residing in Austin, Texas. Strother received an interview email from Amazon extending her the partnership once more.

“That same year, the day after Christmas, I got an email from Amazon saying “Hey, are you still interested in this opportunity?” This time, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t let things play out,” said Strother. “I went to Las Vegas for the Amazon event and there were over 200 people in the room. Each candidate had to be interviewed by an Amazon executive.”

During the interview, Strother recalled answering a critical question that she answered amazingly.

“During my interview, they asked a critical question. I remember the interviewer asked, “Are you going to work every day?” I said, “No ma’am. I believe in work-life balance.”

Two days later, Strother received a call from Amazon, officially granting her an Amazon partnership. This marked the beginning of her logistics company, L2E Industries, which stands for Learning 2 Exhale Industries.

In July 2020, she entered into a formal contract to cover Austin, Texas, and on September 22, 2020, she launched her company’s first route.

Embracing it wholeheartedly, she seized the chance, and through her unwavering determination and dedication, she transformed into a multi-million dollar business owner within 18 months.

“I applied for the partnership and within a year, I was running a million-dollar business. After 18 months, my delivery company grew to become a multimillion dollar business,” says Strother.

Since then, L2E Industries which Strother started with just $10,000 has remained on an upward trajectory, making remarkable achievements, including sustaining over a million-dollar revenue annually.

“I now own my own business called L2E Industries, which stands for Learning 2 Exhale Industries, and Amazon is my transportation client. We just cleared over $3 million in less than three years,” said Strother in an interview with Business Insider in October 2023.

According to Strother, she now oversees a fleet of 38 blue vans and 80 associates. Her team has delivered over 4 million packages and completed over 20,000 routes, delivering packages directly to customers’ doorsteps.

“I now have a fleet of 38 blue vans with “Prime” painted on the side and my company has grown to almost 80 associates. My delivery team goes to the Amazon delivery stations, they pick up the orders that customers put in, and come to your front door or business delivering the packages — hopefully with a smile.”

Strother leads the operational responsibilities for L2E Industries, meticulously planning the diverse routes her associates must navigate, whether through rural, urban, or underdeveloped areas.

“I’m responsible for servicing a portion of Central Texas. We’re given 25 to 35 daily routes and I have to make sure the vans are in place and my staff is dressed and ready to go.”

Her overarching objective, as Strother states, is to optimize safety and quality to drive revenue. L2E Industries earns payment per delivery package and receives incentives for outstanding customer service and safety practices.

“We’re paid per package that’s delivered and we’re rewarded for being safe and for positive remarks that customers leave us. Whenever a person gets a package, they get a message where they can leave a remark based on a delivery. Was it on time? Were the delivery drivers courteous? Did they go above and beyond? I encourage people to always answer.”

Strother and L2E Industries are financially incentivized based on customer satisfaction, delivery quality, and consistent reliability. However, she doesn’t have direct control over her business’s growth—Amazon does. The amount of work Strother receives is determined by Amazon, contingent upon overall demand and package volume.

However, despite experiencing successes and enjoying favorable circumstances, Strother acknowledges that her company encounters challenges like any other venture. She reminisces about a difficult quarter in 2021, where she remained optimistic and overcame the obstacles.

“Reinforcing a positive company culture helps employees to stick it out when times get rough. That’s what happened to my company,” she says. “There was a quarter that was a very rough patch. A fatal winter storm came to Texas in February 2021 and shut down the business for one week. As a result, the succeeding quarter was devastating. I had to cash out my retirement and personal savings, and stop paying myself to pay my employees.”

Eventually, Strother had a 15-minute meeting with a temporary business coach provided by Amazon. During this session, the coach analyzed some key metrics and highlighted individuals whose performance was adversely impacting her overall business. This experience taught Strother the importance of balancing concern for people’s feelings with prioritizing the bottom line.

“The meeting propelled me to refocus and turn my company around. After that meeting, I gave those employees a deadline to bring their numbers back up so the business could get back on track. I immediately implemented a policy around our scorecards, which rates the driver’s service, and holding drivers accountable. I also started thinking about how to make smarter financial decisions that would make the business sustainable,” said Strother. “Since then, I haven’t missed a payroll check, and I’ve been able to start paying myself again,” she added.

Now, Strother is expanding her logistics business to cover more areas in 2024 and beyond. She seeks delivery drivers who can deliver packages quickly, safely, and with a smile. According to her, drivers receive competitive hourly wages, full-time employment benefits, and bonuses for surpassing individual and team performance objectives.

Other Endeavors

In addition to her logistics business, Strother owns other profitable ventures. She is the founder and CEO of Trustworthy Consulting and Learning to Exhale Restoration Strategies.

Through Learning to Exhale Restoration Strategies, she takes charge of grassroots initiatives, team management, event organization, community advancement, financial education, fundraising, and the promotion of campaigns addressing domestic violence and sexual awareness. Being a dedicated community leader with a keen interest in enhancing the daily lives of individuals, she creates an environment that enables both women and men to find solace and regain their composure during community events, training sessions, private coaching, and media projects.

These endeavors focus on implementing strategies and creating discussion platforms that contribute to the effectiveness of healing practices and foster collaborations aimed at breaking the cycle of domestic violence, sexual assault, unaddressed trauma, and other forms of abuse.

She closely collaborates with professionals from diverse industries to establish strong partnerships with resilient survivors and promote the impactful ‘Learning to Exhale’ restoration philosophy, which facilitates the development of policies, prevention measures, and intervention strategies.

In her efforts, Sophia actively engages with survivors at all levels, including those who have witnessed abuse, those who have experienced abuse firsthand, and those who have been affected by the intergenerational impact of abuse. Going above and beyond, she also shares her personal story and interacts with individuals who have perpetrated abuse, with the hope of inspiring them to transform their behaviors.

Strother is a remarkable woman with many laudable credentials. She is an influential speaker and has authored the book “Sophia I’m Back,” which recounts her traumatic experiences and provides guidance on overcoming personal challenges. Through her book, Strother aims to inspire others to embrace life and love more deeply by sharing her journey of resilience after enduring abuse and adversity. Additionally, she recently embarked on her first feature film series, collaborating with her daughter Le’loni Simone as co-writer, director, and producer.

Strother’s educational background includes an MBA in Marketing and a BSBA in Business Management from American International College. Furthermore, she takes pride in being a mother to three children and grandmother to five grandchildren. Simply put, Sophia is not only a survivor but also a restoration strategist, national advocate, a source of inspiration, an inspirational speaker, author, filmmaker, and successful entrepreneur.