This Entrepreneur Wants to Make Buying a Car Less Overwhelming
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If you want to buy a car but find the process to be completely overwhelming, the co-founder and CEO of AutoLeadStar wants to make the process a little easier. Aharon Horwitz and his team built a software-as-a-service (SaaS) system that automates marketing ads for car dealerships, so they can be more affordable than hiring a traditional marketing agency and automate lead nurturing. Their goals for the future are to educate both dealers and shoppers, and to shorten the sale process. Horwitz also hosts a podcast, Inside Auto, which discusses the need for automated marketing. He sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about his company and the innovative ways he incorporates consumers into the foundation of his business.
Jessica Abo: Tell us a little bit about your company.
Aharon Horwitz: It's not only overwhelming to buy a car, every aspect of engaging with transportation today is overwhelming. The marketing is overwhelming. The shopping is overwhelming. The purchase comparison, the price comparisons. What AutoLeadStar does is make it seamless and easy. I like to think of it like a Spotify or Netflix. We embed this intelligence in a car dealer. And when you come to shop, when you get the emails from them, when you talk to the salespeople, it's all playing from the single view of what you need and what you want. We try to make it really seamless and easy for you, the consumer, to engage with the shopping process and get that car that most fits you.
How did you come up with this idea?
I was really invested in small, medium businesses. I believe in small, medium businesses as the engine of a strong economy, of social mobility. And prior to AutoLeadStar, I worked in a social entrepreneurial startup incubator that launched small and medium businesses. When I realized how important they were, I said, “Hey, let me launch a company that can give great technology to small, medium businesses and can help them compete against the big monopolies around the world, Walmart, Amazon, etc.”
Car dealers are where I landed. I loved the industry. I met amazing people who employ so many people. They spend so much on payroll. They pay so much in taxes. We want to give them the technology to make car shopping easy for consumers so that they can compete against all the biggies that are coming to take their business.
How does your technology work?
We work with the car dealers because that's where most shopping happens. You go online, you research, eventually you land at a dealer and that's where the experience can get a little choppy. We want to make sure that from the minute you hit that dealer's website, we're trying to figure out what you want and get you to it as quickly as possible. Then, when the dealer then sends you follow up emails or messages, it's all fitting exactly your profile and the things you've already done. So, AutoLeadStar is like a smart digital sales person or marketing person that lives in the dealer's website and customer relationship management, fits to you and gives you a better experience buying the car. In business software this type of technology is often called a RevOps platform.
What advice do you have for someone who's about to launch a company or launch a product?
If you're going to launch a startup, a company, a product or a solution, the first thing that I recommend is getting deep into the guts of the customer and the customer issue in the market. When we launched AutoLeadStar, we made it a point to go and spend time in dealerships to the point where we asked them to give us jobs in the call center, and let us shadow their salespeople. For months we studied it and tried to understand it. That's the first thing that I'd recommend doing, especially if you're coming with a solution from the outside.
The second thing you should do is find a couple of customers who could be development partners. Development partners are those customers who are almost like your team members. They're giving you feedback on features, on products, on things that you want to do. They can really help guide you. And then the third thing is to take the absolute best and put them in some sort of advisory board. So you have this really long relationship with them and they help shepherd your product forward over time and really help you build the solution and evangelize it to the market.