Before founding driver1 my previous startup was a proptech company that provided SAAS products to the estate agency sector. Previous to this my startups included a pioneering shopping platform for Internet Service providers, the UK’s first Tech startup accelerator and a mobile app company that provided some of the very earliest mobile apps to Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse. Remember the WAP phone?
You can’t have a car finance application that asks young drivers for 3 years of employment history
What I’ve learnt from this experience is that you’re far more successful if you develop your offering around consumer needs and behaviour rather than just the product. The same can be said of the car industry that I entered a year ago with the conception of driver1. The sector is clearly ripe for change and much has been written recently about online car buying and mobility services.
Like estate agents before them, most car dealers will move online, some will keep their forecourts and others will create online only brands. I categorise these as hybrid dealers (not to be confused with hybrid electric cars). The issue with hybrids is they have a traditional way of doing things which their online presence is forced to fit in with. Their website is used for generating leads to hand off to their salesperson who calls the customer, arranges a test drive and completes the paperwork face to face, or via a 15 page esign document (not particularly mobile friendly).
Don’t get me wrong, this is right for their business at this point in time. Lots of people still like to see the car, kick the tyres and be sold to by someone who knows all the facts and stats about the car. It is a large purchase after all. But younger drivers hold no preconceived ideas about the process. They don’t like being sold to by a smart-suited salesperson, and they shy away from negotiation or confrontation. They are digital natives who use their mobiles to control their music and TV playlists, travel itinerary, mobile banking and everything else, so why not control how, where and when they get, use and pay for a car?