What they do: Austin-based Wise Rides helps independent used car dealers sell their cars online.
How they do it: Wise Rides charges independent car dealers $150 a month to use the site. Approved dealers can post car advertisements on the site, and buyers are directed to contact them if interested. To prevent inaccurate inventory ads automatically expire at the end of 30 days. He launched the site in the Killeen area, but recently expanded in to Austin.
Who they are: The company was founded by Michael Ray in 2012 and originally called Hoopdiecars. Ray is a former Marine and veteran of the Desert Storm wars in the early 1990s. He’s a first-time entrepreneur who got his MBA in 2011 after working as a security guard.
Bootstrapped or investors: Early backers are friends and family.
The competitive edge: Ray said he personally screens every independent car dealer to ensure he’s only working with car dealers consumers can trust. That means asking about repossession rates and looking for cars that have the prices written on them. “It shows transparency,” Ray said. “I think that is what people are hungry for.”
Biggest challenge: There are plenty of better-funded and better-known competitors. Over a dozen start-ups or established industry veterans are attempting to harness the Internet and apps to improve the experience of used car buying. This includes used car powerhouses such as CarMax, California-based Beepi, which promises to bring the car right to your door, and Austin-based Vast, which sells cars online through its CarStory platform. “I don’t mind at all,” Ray said about the crowded online auto-seller’s market. “The competition makes you stronger, not weaker.”