Online auto lease concierge service Carlease has raised $3.5 million in an initial funding round led by venture capital firm Lightbank, along with a group of auto industry veterans that includes Mitch Golub, Kayne Grau and Justin Mahlik.
Golub is the former president of Cars.com, while Grau (also a former Cars.com executive) and Mahlik are the co-founders of DRIVIN.
Chicago-based Carlease is led by chief executive officer Andy O’Dower, who is the former director of product at Cars.com and the former chief product officer at Curiosity.com.
Carlease provides consumers with a single-point-of-contact experience to lease a vehicle that is delivered to their door. The company partners with dealers to complete the transaction.
“Leases now account for nearly one-third of all new-vehicle sales, with those percentages going up significantly across luxury makes and with millennial buyers,” O’Dower said in a news release.
“Leases are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons, including rapid advancements in automotive technology, and shoppers are looking for a convenient, one-stop shop to help them navigate the leasing process and quickly get into their next car,” he said. “At Carlease, we are motivated to help our customers get the lease offer and terms that best meet their needs while delivering concierge-level service that takes the time and stress out of new car shopping.”
A new platform from the company allows consumers to search the latest models by any feature set. The shopper is contacted with 24 hours by a Carlease expect, who shares multiple lease offers with the customer. The Carlease expert takes care of approval of the deal, trade-in and vehicle delivery to the shopper’s home or office. The vehicle itself comes from a dealership.
Victor Pascucci III, managing partner of Lightbank, said in a news release: “Carlease’s unique, independent model capitalizes on the trends happening within the automotive industry, saving consumers time and money while increasing transaction opportunities for partner dealerships.
“With leasing numbers steadily increasing and luxury brands reporting that leases account for as high as 65 percent of total new-car transactions, now is the time for a better nationwide platform that makes finding leases simple, straightforward and convenient for consumers.”
Lightbank partner Bill Pescatello added: “We have a history of driving successful businesses within the automotive and consumer sectors. Carlease is the right combination of deep product and technology expertise, combined with a massive, growing market demand. We are thrilled to add Carlease to our portfolio.”
Among the other auto-related companies in that portfolio is DRIVIN, which was acquired by KAR Auction Services in 2017.