AutoLeadStar's Co-Founder and CEO shares how their Software-as-a-Service platform works and why you should include your consumers on your advisory board.
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If you're looking to buy a car but find the process completely overwhelming, the AutoLeadStar Co-Founder and CEO wants to make the process a bit easier. Aharon Horwitz and his team developed a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system that automates marketing ads for dealerships so they can be more cost effective than hiring a traditional marketing agency and automating lead nurturing. Your goals for the future are to train both dealers and buyers and to shorten the sales process. Horwitz also hosts a podcast, Inside Auto, which discusses the need for automated marketing. He sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about his company and the innovative ways he is keeping consumers at the heart of his business.
Jessica Abo: Tell us a little bit about your company.
Aharon Horwitz: It's not only overwhelming to buy a car, but every aspect of mobility today. The marketing is overwhelming. The shopping is overwhelming. The purchase comparison, the price comparisons. AutoLeadStar makes it seamless and easy. I like to think of it like Spotify or Netflix. We're embedding this intelligence in a car dealership. And when you come to the shop, when you get the emails from them, when you talk to the sellers, you play everything you need and what you want from a single point of view. We try to make it really seamless and easy for you as a consumer to get involved in the shopping process and find the car that suits you best.
How did you come up with this idea?
I was really invested in small and medium businesses. I believe in small and medium-sized enterprises as the engine of a strong economy, social mobility. And before AutoLeadStar, I worked in a social entrepreneurship startup incubator that started small and medium-sized businesses. Realizing how important they were, I said, “Hey, let me start a company that can bring great technology to small and medium-sized businesses and help them fight the big monopolies around the world, Walmart, Amazon, and so on ., to compete."
Car dealers are where I ended up. I loved the industry. I've met great people who employ so many people. You spend so much on payroll. You pay so much in taxes. We want to give them the technology that will make it easier for consumers to buy cars so that they can compete against all the big ones who will take over their business.
How does your technology work?
We work with the car dealers because that's where most of the purchases are made. You go online, do your research and end up with a retailer, and the experience can get a bit bumpy. We want to make sure that from the moment you visit this dealer's website, we can find out what you want and get you there asap. Then when the dealer sends you follow-up emails or messages, everything fits your profile and the things you've already done. So AutoLeadStar is like a smart digital salesperson or marketer who lives on the dealer's website and in customer relationship management, suits you and gives you a better buying experience. In enterprise software, this type of technology is often referred to as the RevOps platform.
What is your advice to someone who is about to start a business or launch a product?
If you want to start a start-up, a company, a product or a solution, the first thing I recommend is that you dig deep into the bowels of the customer and the customer problem in the market. When we launched AutoLeadStar, our goal was to spend time with the dealers until we asked them to give us call center jobs and let their salespeople guide us. We studied it for months and tried to understand it. That's the first thing I would recommend, especially if you come up with an outside solution.
The second thing you should do is find a few customers who could be development partners. Development partners are the customers who are almost like your team members. They give you feedback on features, products, and the things you want to do. They can really help you guide yourself. And third is to take the very best and put them on some kind of advisory board. So you have a really long relationship with them and they help you advance your product over time and really help you develop the solution and get it out there in the market.