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From selling cars in person to selling them online right across America, meet this amazing Melbourne entrepreneur who is taking his scale-up to the world!
By Madhu S
Check out the latest article from the "Perfect Pitch Show" where Brandon Burns, Head of Community - Runway HQ, interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about the secret sauce of their successful start-up journey.
In this article, we break down the gold nuggets from our interview with Shaun Sumaru , Founder at CARDEALS2ME and BIKEDEALS2ME. Shaun has recently set up his office in Phoenix, Arizona, USA and has got an international market presence across Australia, USA and Canada. He was brought up in Melbourne and has been in the dealership space for more than 15 years.
During our interview, Shaun shared some fascinating personal experiences from his start-up. We believe these discussion topics will help start-ups in regional Victoria with tips & tricks in setting up small businesses. Our breakdown of Shaun’s insights begins with the introduction of his business.
Vision of CARDEALS2ME/BIKEDEALS2ME
Keeping customers at the heart of everything is the key to any business, says Shaun. In the car dealership business, Shaun continues, customers would want to get the best deal without wasting much of their personal time on weekends and busy week days. The value proposition for Shaun was to get the best deals for customers anonymously from car/bike dealers under ‘two’ business hours. This is all done through an ‘App’ which is supported by both iOS and android devices. He continues, he started this business in 2017 in Australia through Pause fest in Melbourne and after attending Pivot Summit in Geelong.
Unique value proposition
When asked about his unique value proposition, Shaun was quick to jump in and comment that he focusses on the customer journey as a whole. The aim is to get the best price for new/used vehicles in the market. Shaun continues, there is always a fluctuation in the price every day and customers must have the option to seal the price when needed. Dealers get a wonderful limitless platform for reaching out to the customers through their monthly subscription. Shaun was able to hit a sweet spot for both dealers and customers through this business model.
Shaun is a proud man when it comes to sales and growth. He has got his footprint in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He has 580 car dealers in Australia that generates c 5000-7000 per month with a 50% conversion rate. Shaun says, the high conversion rate is because the leads are of high quality and there are no time wasters. When it comes to New Zealand, being a small population of circa 4 mn, there are 1000 unique users. In Canada, Shaun quotes, there were circa 15,000 to 19,000 leads so far in the last year. The key to achieving a multi-geographic presence, Shaun says is sheer dynamics in terms of customers’ choice of cars e.g. Australia loves Mercedes whereas Canada loves BMW. Shaun ‘s analytics platform confirms that the users of his app is predominantly females within the age bracket 25 to 45. This was a huge surprise for Shaun as the platform was not built for that customer base.
Exponential scaling VS Staying Lean initially
Shaun was quick to admit that the biggest lesson for him was trying to scale too fast too soon by introducing umpteen features in his app early on which were not warranted. He wished to have stayed lean rather than juggling too many balls. Shaun quotes an example where he felt he could have waited for a quarter to check the results after implementing in Australia before launching his business in New Zealand. This is very similar to the famous agile principle “Eat the elephant one bite at a time”.
‘Research: The distance between an idea and its realization’ – David Sarnoff
The biggest mistake people make after they were coached or mentored, Shaun says is not carrying out the research. Before launching in Canada for almost 8 months, Shaun spent in researching the market. He hit the ground running the day he landed in Canada by meeting 53 dealers in the first 2 weeks. It was only possible by taking the invaluable lessons, pain points and questions through the launch in Australia and a complete study of the Canada market.
Follow what your heart says
By deeply understanding what your heart says, Shaun says, we can unearth couple of key things for a start-up progression viz. a) Who is in our game i.e. who are our staunch supporters and b) which suggestions are good and which are not. People voluntarily provide heaps of suggestions even though they are not in the market or they are a third party to our industry. ‘The fact is those suggestions would not work’. Shaun continues, people can be experts in a certain field and not everyone can understand what our idea is or what we are doing. The best thing is to go with our gut feel sometimes if there are no evidences to support our idea. Shaun believes, that once we have chosen to go with our heart, we have to go full steam by working hard with relentless passion to achieve the results.
What next for CARDEALS2ME?
Shaun is beaming with confidence about the future roadmap for CARDEALS2ME. He says, there are lot of exciting things planned especially with the new partnerships that would completely alter the way he reaches out to customers and vice versa. Shaun aims to get more dealers, more users of his app and more importantly, he is all ears for the feedback people want to provide.
Shaun is more than happy to mentor people and he pledges every start-up based out of regional places to ‘reach out’ by all means viz. twitter, facebook, LinkedIn etc. There are enough mentors who can engineer a structured plan to hit the market, help with strategy and research etc. Shaun concludes, if Australia can follow US to create a community for start-ups like what the Runway HQ is trying to achieve, we could see a surge of start-ups with greater degree of confidence jumping-in.