An emerging competitor in the online car reviews and sales space, CarExpert.com.au is looking to go full throttle in Perth as it targets dealerships on the west coast to bolster its database, marketplace and active monthly user base of 1.7 million people.
Launched in 2020, the Sydney-based company is run by former CarAdvice.com.au founders Alborz Fallah and Paul Maric - who four years ago sold their previous venture to Nine Entertainment (ASX: NEC) for $65 million – as well as Anthony Crawford.
The push into Perth follows the company’s recent $4 million acquisition of dealer lead management website Price My Car, which had amassed 302,000 members and 926 dealers at the time of purchase.
CarExpert co-founder Alborz Fallah said that with WA having one of the most resilient economies during the pandemic and more car sales than the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania combined, there was a massive growth opportunity for the company to tap into.
"With only 5 per cent of our overall traffic coming from Perth, we see WA as being an under-serviced market that we can now very much look to tap into for growth and diversification," said Fallah, who is a finalist at the upcoming 2022 Sydney Young Entrepreneur Awards alongside co-founder Paul Maric.
“WA has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, the strongest recent wages growth and several other appealing traits to support the state’s future expansion and population growth, not least a large mining sector heavily exposed to the critical minerals, such as lithium, required to make electric vehicles, which we know more and more consumers are keen to buy.
“Having enjoyed massive growth in audience, dealership signings and revenue on the east coast, we see WA as a logical next step to help turbocharge our national and international ambitions.”
As part of its foray into WA, CarExpert has become the headline sponsor for this year’s Royal Queensbury Club Championship (RQCC) event - one of Perth’s biggest black-tie events that raises money for WA children’s charities.
The company has ongoing investment from Perth-based billionaire Laurence Escalante and Seven West Media (ASX: SWM) – which tipped $4 million to become a minority shareholder.
The trio of entrepreneurs founded the company after CarAdvice was merged with Nine’s motor vehicle publication Drive.com.au, resulting in 10 layoffs in 2019.
Speaking with Business News Australia, Fallah said allowing CarAdvice to be acquired was “a terrible mistake" and that the company "should’ve gone to IPO”.
“Nine wasn't awfully happy about our departure. I think they were even less satisfied with us starting a new competitor, and then even less satisfied that their main rival – Seven – invested in it. As of April, we actually overtook Drive.com.au in terms of traffic,” said Fallah.
“We took 21 of our staff with us and started CarExpert with a slightly different mission, but obviously in a very similar industry. We spent the first 12 months building a massive amount of content and audience and getting the site infrastructure right, then we started adding all the data and transactional elements. We were very conscious of not becoming CarAdvice 2.0.
“Then we went and bought PriceMyCar. We want to use that platform to connect people to the dealer and help them with finance and insurance along the way.”
CarExpert.com.au also offers a product known as Sold Price Report, which offers users real market data to show what others have recently paid for the car they want.
“We've got a multi-year exclusive deal with government agencies that allows us to see the pricing under the stamp duty forms,” Fallah explained.
“We get all that data anonymised, so we don't know the person but we know the VIN number of the vehicle. You know exactly what car it is and the price that was paid for it.”
When asked about his vision for CarExpert Fallah said the aim was to become a “billion-dollar business”.
“We learned so many lessons, and everyone that came over brought those lessons with them. It wasn't like we were a new startup, we're a very experienced team of people.
“We've got another acquisition - which would be in the insurance and finance space - under contract. That hopefully settles next year.”
“We're aiming to do our pre-IPO round in Q2 next year. I would definitely say it will be a public company in the first six months of 2024.”
CarExpert’s RQCC sponsorship coincides with the company rolling out a national TV advertising campaign on Channel Seven from October 23.
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