– UK, London – carwow, the online platform for buying new cars, officially launched today with a £1.3m investment round led by Balderton Capital, the leading European venture capital investor who has previously backed Yoox, Betfair, LOVEFiLM and NaturalMotion. Also participating are Episode 1 Ventures, backers of Betfair and Shazam, and Samos Investments, whose investments include Ocado and PKR.com. Angel investors involved in the round include Alex Chesterman, the founder of Zoopla Property Group, Simon Murdoch and Doug Monro.
Founded in London, carwow takes the frustration out of buying a brand new car. New cars are most people’s second biggest purchase after houses and yet are one of the few products on which consumers have almost no price transparency. Buyers typically have to haggle face-to-face with a salesperson and many dislike the experience.
carwow allows users to compare offers online and buy directly from trusted dealers at upfront no-haggle discounts. Consumers use carwow’s platform to build the car they would like to buy and then receive offers from dealers. They can compare offers by price, location of the dealer, reviews of the dealer and who has what in stock.
The website puts the user in control; it’s up to the buyer to decide whether to contact a dealer based on their offer, doing so either by messaging them anonymously or calling them directly. The site screens dealers’ previous response times and past reviews and allows only those who provide the best customer experience to advertise offers.
carwow’s buying platform has demonstrated rapid growth with over £30m worth of cars already bought through the site since its beta launch in May 2013.
James Hind, the founder of carwow, commented on the launch and investment: “We’re delighted to have the backing of such experienced investors and are confident that this investment will help establish carwow as the best place to buy a new car in the growing UK market, and will also accelerate our international expansion plans.
“Cars are the only product where consumers still have to haggle face to face with a salesperson and most consumers don’t enjoy the whole process. By only working with dealers who offer both upfront discounts and great customer service, we’ve created an online platform where the user is in control and gets a fantastic buying experience.”
Rob Moffat, who led the investment at Balderton Capital and will join carwow’s board, commented: “carwow has created an exceptional service that provides consumers with the best way to buy a new car. We were impressed by both the universally positive feedback from users but also from dealers who use carwow and benefit from a new marketing channel, generating large volumes of sales. We believe carwow’s powerful online platform will revitalise the new-car market which, to date, has experienced very little innovation.”
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