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An interview with James Hind of Carwow

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by Startacus Admin

Like most folks, here at Startacus we are rather fond of cars... "fond" being the crucial word. We are not experts on the inner intricacies of the combustion engine, nor do we have any desire to be. But leave us in something of a sticky wicket when it comes to choosing a set of shiny new wheels... how can we make an informed decision when 80 % of the information on automobile geared sites consists of jargon suitable for only the most avid petrol heads?

Thats why we were rather pleased to come accross 'carwow' a new site for the average Joe, or Josephine, that plans to take the headache (and blind faith) out of the car buying process. The team have just received a significant investment so we thought the time was right to have a chat with founder James Hind about this great idea and what the future could hold for carwow.

Going back to the beginning, what lead you to carwow being conceived?James Hind Carwow

I’m a big car fan, so looked at starting something up in the auto space. I was always the guy offering advice to friends when they wanted to buy a car, because most car review sites were only really suitable for car geeks.

Review aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic work well for films, so we thought why not for cars too? It’s cheap content to make, useful to the reader and the advertising rates are pretty decent.

So we launched as carbuzz, a car review aggregator. Pretty soon we realised that the process of buying a new car was a much bigger pain point, so we set out to solve that.

You have just received a fab investment - What do you think this investment will mean in terms of carwow?

The cash is to enable us to scale faster...much faster. We're the only company doing what we do, and both users and dealerships love the process so it's all about getting the word out and building our user base. We have a pretty tiny marketshare at the moment and are still billing significant amounts, the scope of what can be achieved is pretty exciting. 

What do you think you are currently doing better than your competitors?

There's no direct competitors to us over here, we offer a transparent service where car buyers are in control. They compare upfront offers from multiple dealers whose prices and contact details are all provided. It’s then up to them to get in touch with their favourite dealer and buy direct without feeling carwowpressured. Users love it because they don't get hounded, and dealerships love it because when somebody gets in touch, they're a very well qualified lead.

There are however a lot of brokers out there who essentially achieve the same goal (someone buying a car from one of their dealers), but they get involved in the deal itself and it tends to be about driving down price. They're generally not transparent services, you have the risk of being hassled, and sometimes the deals advertised are not actually available. carwow isn't all about price, we want to create the best buying experience and make buying a new car easy and enjoyable.

How are the dealers checked?

We only work with licensed franchised dealers who we handpick and ensure they can commit to our high standards of customer service. Beyond that it's community sourced, so our users review the dealers. Not only do user reviews influence prospective customers, but we take it into account with our algorithm so it directly affects how likely that dealership is to quote users.

Going forward what can we expect from carwow - any sneak peaks under the bonnet, you can share with us all!

Nothing to hide to be honest! I think the direction of the company is pretty clear, we're looking to get a much stronger marketshare for new car sales in the UK, beyond that there are other markets (nearly-new, fleet, used)  and other geographical locations that are on the radar.

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Published on: 22nd May 2014

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