In barely 10 month’s the archaic car finance industry in the UK has been made customer first! | Aidan Rushby, CEO of Carmoola explains.’
This is the story about Carmoola’s journey from launch to Series A in only 10 months…
Carmoola launched on the 1st of April 2022. Bringing consumers a cheaper, easier and faster way to finance a used car. And wow, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has been achieved in less than 10 months. Multiple funding rounds, massive technology build out and thousands of happy customers! All with a very small team of driven, hard working and incredible people.
Almost instantly, we knew we were onto something very special as customers seemed to love what we had created. After launching, we all sat in the pub to celebrate, and to our surprise we were bombarded with customers applying on the app! We were glued to our alerts channel in slack, a custom integration we built to monitor activity on the platform. We could not believe we were seeing a new person apply every minute. 🥳
By the end of the first quarter…the number of customers and revenue was growing rapidly, but most importantly the NPS (net promoter score) was consistently around +90 which is very high, and above average for the industry. At this stage, there were only 10 people in the team covering everything from tech, finance, customer service and product! I have to say Hanan and Amy were incredible during this phase. Not only were they amazing with the customers, they worked 7 days a week 8am-9pm to support anyone who needed help in their journey! It was really exciting to see what a powerful mix of having a great product, plus “wow” customer service can do! We are crazy about delivering wow to our customers, and lots of them even send us pictures with their car!
By this stage we were all very excited by how few people were required in the team to operate the company. We started to ask “can we build a £1B book with less than 100 people?”
Investors had been so supportive during this first phase, but we were scaling quickly and solving multiple problems while running on very little cash.
With a product that customers loved, and very strong unit economics, we started raising the Series A in the summer just 3–4 months after launch. I thought this would be a breeze with the metrics we were showing! But I was about to be proven wrong! It ended up being one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I think it’s fair to say not every VC understands how lending businesses work, and this coupled with a crazy macro environment made it one hell of a challenge. But I love a challenge! It was getting into August, and everyone in the VC world was on holiday. I thought I would take a short break at the end of the month, but it seems everyone woke up just at that moment, and so I ended up working for most of the holiday doing multiple IC pitches! Not the worst environment to work in I suppose 😉
I personally really struggle pitching on zoom calls. I get so much energy from other people, and I’ve found that there is no feedback on a video call and so my energy is dying away (not something I struggle with face to face). I’ve since done some additional training which I would highly recommend to anyone that has the same challenges with video calls. However at the time I was trying to fundraise, this was not helping things!
On the last day of my holiday just after I had heard another no… Yusuf reached out for a chat. For Carmoola, it was really important to partner with a VC that gets lending and can add value to the business, so QED was number 1 on my list!
Six weeks later we got a term sheet from QED, which was one of the best days of my life! Yusuf was outstanding during the process and so great to work with. This was swiftly followed up by lining up Natwest for the debt required for scaling.
We have now doubled revenue since QED invested, and have grown our NPS score to over +95 while still running the business with only 18 people. A special thanks needs to go to everyone in the team at Carmoola for all their hard work and dedication, and also to go to our investors Mark Ransford, Will Neale, Micheal Pennington, Ugo Arzani, Dan Cobley, Yusuf Ozdalga, Seb McDermott but last but not least Alistair and Apostolos from VentureFriends for their continued support.
I’m super excited to see what the next 12 months will bring at Carmoola. Watch this space!