Interview With Joshua Bowlin
Describe your product or service:
“Autimely offers [a] quicker and easier experience by enabling the consumer the ability to search and negotiate with up to five car dealerships at once. Consumers will be able to search from our database of millions of cars, sign contracts, schedule test drives, pay in cryptocurrency, and get same-day delivery or pickup.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Autimely's mission is to change [the] car buying experience to make it easier for consumers and dealerships by utilizing technology. Autimely's values [are] to make the car buying experience transparent and fair for both sides of the transaction.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“We are currently self-funded and are in the middle of our seed round of funding.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We are a team of three: myself, as founder and CEO, and two technical founders.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've been an entrepreneur since I was the age of 5. I would take things apart and put them back together. I was always looking for better ways to do things and how to improve the flow of daily life. I always knew I would be a founder of a company. This company is extra special to me because I know that this will change how car buying happens forever to come.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“I came up with my startup idea when my father called me and asked me about going to look for a new car with him, and it just got me thinking there has to be a better way to do this than outside of going to all these dealerships spending hours to maybe walk away without even buying a car. I decided to act on my idea because I know the problem that we are solving is an everyday problem, and the best ideas are the ones that are the simplest but add the most value. What [gave] me the confidence to move was when I started digging in to data the said 54% of people what to be able to buy a car from home (32 Million people based on the 58 Million cars sold last year), and 48% of people want to negotiate the price before stepping foot in to the dealership. Our platform offers consumers both of those options, and with numbers like that, it definitely gives you a lot of confidence that you have a winner.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Our first name was Pendulum, but it was way to long and didn't make a lot of sense, so I started trying to figure out how to put time and auto together and that's when I came up with Autimely — it also helped that it was only $15 to purchase.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“We are still a very young company, so I'm sure our greatest challenges are yet to come, but to date, I think the biggest challenge for any entrepreneur and startup is just taking the first step to take your idea and make it into something. After you get past step one, you're on to a good path because that step one is followed up with a step two, three, and four and so on.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our product is made for both the consumer that's looking to get a better price on a vehicle, the user that wants to purchase a vehicle using cryptocurrency, and someone that's looking to save time in [the] vehicle buying experience. We are help[ing] out the dealerships because we provide them with a more streamlined process and help them give a better overall experience to the consumers”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Consumers spend one to four months research[ing] before visiting a dealership. That means that consumers are researching what they are after on youtube, auto magazines, blogs, etc. We feel ... [the] best market strategy is to go where consumers are — YouTube, auto magazines, and blogs — and have a great social media presence.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We are still building out our platform, so at this point, we don't have our first 100 customers, but we will get them from what I stated above.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“The metrics that we are paying attention to is transaction rate so how many consumers engaged with the dealerships and how many of those closed, why they didn't close, and the [total sales] over our platform.”
What's your favorite entrepreneurial book and podcast?
“Podcast would be ‘How I Built This’ with Guy Raz — I just feel I can relate so much to everyone ... and I've also taken things that those entrepreneurs have done and applied it to my own business. Favorite book would be ‘Think Again’ by Adam Grant.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“Some days you're up and some you're down, but you can't stop, and you have to keep going. There's no [other] option.”
Who is your support system?
“My parents [are] a big part of my support system. They're always there if I need help, and I truly couldn't ask for better parents and people in my life.”
How do you stay motivated?
“How I stay motivated is I truly believe in what I'm doing. I believe I'm on the edge of changing car buying forever and for the better. So when you have [that] big of a goal and plan, it helps you stay pretty motivated to keep moving forward.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I believe the best habit that I've developed is being organized and open-minded to other ideas.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“I'm most proud that I've been able to find something that I feel will change the whole industry forever.”
More on Autimely
Autimely incorporates technology into the car-buying experience to make the process of purchasing a vehicle simpler and, hopefully, positive.
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Joshua Bowlin of Autimely that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.