The automotive sales and distribution model has largely been the same since the 1980s, with little change taking place despite technology revolutionizing other industries.
The automotive industry as a whole has not adapted to the shift to online as quickly as many had predicted.
Although consumers have moved online, veteran automotive OEMs still sell the majority of their vehicles to franchise dealerships that in turn sell them to the consumer primarily through bricks and mortar retail sites.
Victoria’s VINN aims to revolutionize the automotive retail model by connecting buyers and dealerships through an online platform.
VINN is a tool on both the consumer and partner side. With the consumer or VINN user; their vehicle experts provide vehicle options if you’re not sure what type of car you want to be buying. Once they find you a car, they will search your area for the best deal. All this while you’re at work, soccer practice, even walking the dog.
On the other end, VINN’s dealer partners benefit from higher sale conversions and get connected with car shoppers that are ready to buy.
Founded in 2019, VINN was just getting off the ground when the pandemic hit and the market for used cars boomed. Stories of used cars selling for as much as new models were commonplace and VINN was there to ride the wave. Between Q2 of 2020 and Q2 of 2021, the startup’s customers grew 1,400% and its revenue 800%.
VINN’s growth caught the attention of investors and last fall they raised a USD $3.2 million seed round led by Turner Novak’s Banana Capital and Vancouver Island’s own Andrew Wilkinson.
If VINN’s geographic specificity attracted Wilkinson’s Tiny Capital, Novak was most impressed by the company’s internet-focused strategy.
“They figured out a way to become capital efficient, almost like a dealer’s sales rep,” Novak told Forbes. “They don’t own any inventory, so they’re able to essentially bid for keywords online that just aren’t as competitive, because they don’t have to sell and move immediately. They’re just trying to find people who are interested in the car.”
Of the 40,000 potential customers who have interacted with VINN’s platform to date, the startup says, 20 to 25% have gone on to purchase cars.
VINN was co-founded by Caleb Bernabe, Tom Avant, and Chet Flanagan.