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Vancouver’s Autozen raises $4.2m with eye on shaking up online car sales

New marketplace connects buyers and sellers directly via online platform
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Between setting up listings on multiple websites and navigating text message and phone calls from strangers, selling a car has a bit of a “medieval” vibe to it, according to Olivier Vincent.

“Trading is relatively easy but you’ve got to buy a new car and you don’t always get the best price when you trade it in because there’s no competition. You get only one offer,” said the CEO of Autozen Technology Ltd.

Vincent is aiming to make that experience go from medieval to modern with the launch of a new online marketplace for vehicles that connects consumers directly to dealers.

The company revealed Tuesday (January 19) the close of a $4.2 million seed round ahead of a wide launch in March (the first few transactions began Wednesday).

Users looking to sell can plug in the make, model and year of their vehicle and Autozen will respond back with a range of prices for how much the automobile will likely fetch.

The platform is free to use for consumers, while Autozen earns its take by charging a commission to dealers for every vehicle sold.

Potential buyers can compete against each other before Autozen then delivers a firm offer to the seller.

If the seller accepts the offer, Autozen will pick up the car in about a day and payment is deposited into the seller’s bank account.

“The automobile industry is pretty low tech. You can see the quality of the online sites that are there,” said Vincent, the former CEO of Canpages, adding he does not believe there is another comparable marketplace out there.

He said COVID-19 has heightened the need for the industry to go digital as more people stay home.

“To build a marketplace is not trivial. Not only the technology but also the marketing and commercial efforts to get it going. It does take several million dollars to do that properly,” Vincent said.

The marketplace is initially rolling out for Metro Vancouver buyers and sellers, but the company will eventually expand throughout Canada.

Autozen did not disclose its initial investors, however, Vincent told BIV he was putting some of his own capital into the company.

“For now this $4.2 million that we raised will take us to 2022 and allow us to build a team with about 20 people already,” he said.

“You cannot do that if you bootstrap the company.”

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