Q&A with our founder, Alastair Campbell

What is the USP of Carsnip and why did you set it up?

I found locating a car very frustrating. I wanted a way to personalise my search and be able to search for cars in the way that I use Google – for example, to find all seven-seat cars for £25,000 within 60 minutes (not miles) from my house. Secondly, I have experience building disruptive businesses that change the way that a sector operates. I launched the first free-to-use business information website companycheck.co.uk in 2011 and it changed the way small business access company financials and credit data. It seemed to me that there is an opportunity to give something to the car dealers that for once they didn’t have to pay for! Later, there will be premium services for dealers but they will be performance-based and optional.


What has the dealer response been like?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It helps being backed by a serious pair of investors and we are in talks with some major traffic partners, which shows our seriousness in delivering a better product for consumers that then benefits the dealers. The big players today don’t see the consumer as the customer, the dealer is. So the focus is on contracts, pay-per-week fees, additional services and so on. We see the consumer as our pure focus and are aiming to deliver an amazingly different and more elegant solution to them. Our focus on the end user will deliver leads and sales to the dealers and therefore make our premium products something they support and want to have.


There are lots of start-ups focusing around this area – can you all succeed?

Automotive is a hot sector right now and the technical cost of launching a new product has dropped dramatically. The key is the USP of the product, although we are free for dealers, free is not the USP. No ‘extra work’ and better visitor data is why we can demonstrate value. Not everyone is going to succeed, but the alternative may not be ‘failure’. Looking at other sectors further along the line than automotive, such as Fintech (financial/technology companies), you can see that there will be plenty of M&A activity and consolidation of new smaller players which will create bigger players to challenge the dominance of the establishment. Being dominant is no longer enough – look at AOL, Yahoo and MySpace.

What will be the key technology breakthroughs which will help a certain company outperform another?

I wouldn’t now see it as tech breakthroughs but more likely that well-funded and backed start-ups will move much faster to build, measure and learn. Therefore adapting within hours to data collected in real time. Also, not being scared to do things differently means that the start-ups can build and test new features in less time than it would take a bigger company just to organise the meetings to talk about it. We push out a series of small releases every day and a major one every week.


This article was first published on Motor Trade News

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