What: Online business that matches car lease buyers with others wanting out of their Vehicle leases
Who: Sergio Stiberman of LeaseTrader.com
When: Started in 1999
Startup costs: More than $1 million
When Sergio Stiberman, 40, wanted to get out of his car lease in 1998, he did what most people would do--he went to his dealership. But he wasn't entirely satisfied with what he found out. "It was going to cost me [the same amount as] all my remaining payments" to get out of the lease early, Stiberman says.
What Stiberman wanted was a way to end his car lease early without excessive fees and payments. As the former owner of a consumer electronics business, he was also looking for a new venture, and with his car problems came a business solution: Create an exchange program for consumers to trade car leases. "I realized there was a need from a consumer standpoint, and there was no one in the market doing it," he says.
Stiberman decided to launch a website that would allow lease buyers and sellers to connect quickly and easily. "You don't have to deal with a dealership, going from one loop to the other," he says of his company's services. "You pretty much dictate the terms you want on a contract."
He hired professional site developers to give LeaseTrader.com a unique look. Startup costs to launch the website were relatively high, so Stiberman used his own funds along with money he received from outside investors.
The site has thousands of listings nationwide. Potential buyers can log on and sign up to view the available listings for free. After checking with their leasing companies, which make the decision on whether to allow trades, sellers can choose from different listing packages ranging in price from $39.95 to $189.95 and begin by entering their vehicle and lease information. LeaseTrader.com will even run credit verification for buyers to ensure a viable sale.With 2006 sales at $3.7 million, Stiberman projects 2007 sales will grow to $8 million.