Zillow‘s consumer-first approach, which took housing listings out of the hands of the brokerage by posting them on the Web, has since been applied in several local segments: mortgage, home and trade, insurance, recruitment, etc.
Now along comes CarWoo, which has raised $12 million from Comcast Ventures, InterWest Partners, Ventures, Blumberg Capital and Raymond Tonsing to build out a similar model for the auto industry (Comcast Ventures’ Michael Yang is on the board of directors). The company collects VIN-specific pricing info from 12,000+ dealers and matches it with consumers.
Consumers anonymously communicate and make counteroffers with dealers, which are mostly concentrated in larger DMAs. They also participate in dealer ratings and reviews. The company also works with most of the mainstream manufacturers.
We recently visited with CEO Tommy McClung and VP Phil Yeh in their cavernous headquarters outside San Francisco. Under their model, dealers may lose their exclusive hold over car inventory info, but they gain prescreened, lower funnel shoppers in buying mode. Dealers also get access to competitive pricing information, letting them ditch the mystery shoppers that many have typically employed.
McClung and Yeh believe their model easily beats using online lead forms, which are often old and resold by the time they get to dealers — that is, when consumers bother to fill them out. McClung notes that more than 60 percent of CarWoo buyers get a car from participating dealers “within a matter of days. We are not wasting dealers’ time with high-funnel tire-kickers,” they add.
On deck for CarWoo in the coming year: more dealers and partnership deals, more social media features, and more exposure in the mainstream consumer press.