Former Ally employee forms online startup to connect dealers and buyers

SEATTLE - 

As the industry continues to fill with new operations looking to streamline vehicle delivery through online technology, an entrepreneur who spent 14 years with Ally Financial is rolling out a platform to connect buyers and dealers where the founder claims a testimonial declares: “Just try it. I promise you will be blown away.”

Joydrive, which is based in Seattle and North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, spent two years in beta mode, stress-testing the platform and delivering more than 250 transactions to customers from California to Montana.

Joydrive recently increased its available inventory from 500 to more than 3,000 and expects to be above 15,000 units within the next six months.

And Joydrive marked the launch of its first online marketplace for new and pre-owned vehicles with a commercial that aired in the Seattle market twice during Super Bowl LII this past Sunday.

“The Super Bowl is a major event, and Joydrive’s presence during the broadcast reflects what a major breakthrough our platform is for customers,” said founder Hunter Gorham, who previously was helping lead Ally’s national digital auto business.

Gorham explained that he became acutely aware of challenges in retail vehicle sales during his 14 years at Ally Financial. Leveraging relationships with some of the top-rated dealers in the country, Gorham left Ally to build what he insisted is an easier, digital-first solution for customers.

“The data clearly show that customers want a different purchasing model — less than 1 percent prefer the current car buying process,” Gorham said. “But the highly fragmented nature of the industry has precluded any solution to date working across dealers.”

Gorham explained that Joydrive works in three steps:

1. Buy online: The entire process can be completed online, from vehicle selection to delivery. After securing a vehicle with a $500 fully refundable deposit, a user-friendly dashboard shows all details of the transaction including trade-in, vehicle service contracts, financing options and delivery scheduling.

Of Joydrive’s 250 transactions in beta mode, 40 percent included a trade-in and 60 percent included financing.

2. Home delivery: Communicating through the dashboard, customers coordinate the vehicle delivery date and time with their licensed dealer representatives. Joydrive has delivered vehicles from California to Montana with an average distance of 135 miles.

Because vehicles are located on dealer lots, delivery can occur as fast as one day.

3. Five-day return period: Buying a vehicle can be the largest transaction customers make, so Joydrive and their dealer members offer a five-day return period or up to 250 miles to ensure customers love their purchase. Customers can drive the car how they will actually use it.

To date, less than 3 percent of Joydrive’s transactions have been returned.

And Joydrive decided to leverage one of the most-watched TV events of the year to promote itself near its base,

Joydrive chose the Seattle market for its Super Bowl debut because of the platform’s strong network of dealerships in the area, which includes a population of about 5.2 million people. This dealer network is key to Joydrive’s unique value proposition and positive customer experience.

Expansion plans include both surrounding states and regional targets such as Texas, Florida and the Carolinas.

The 30-second spot — which you can view here or the window at the top of this page — describes with simple, colorful graphics the mobile-friendly platform designed to empower customers to complete their entire vehicle-buying process online, including trade-in, financing and home delivery in as fast as one day.

“Buying new cars is a nearly $600 billion industry in the U.S.,” Gorham said. “Yet until Joydrive, there was not a complete digital marketplace solution for customers, many of whom don’t like visiting dealers.”

More details can be found at www.joydrive.com.

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