Buying and selling used cars is never easy and in Gulf its even more difficult than Europe or US. From taking pictures of the car to negotiating with potential buyers, the whole process comes with a lot of pain points. CarSwitch.com, a Dubai-based startup has been trying to change all of that. Co-founded last year by Imad Hammad & Ali Malik, they offer end-to-end services for both buyers and sellers while ensuring great value for both the parties.
Launched last year, CarSwitch.com recently raised $1.3 million investment from Glowfish Capital. The team of 20 is being led by Hammad & Malik, who happen to be former McKinsey Consultants just like founders of Careem. Their initial success is evident in form 30% month-on-month growth rate.
“I’ve always been a believer of used cars; you get better value (you skip initial price drop) and can find cars in great condition. Though I’ve heard my fair share of horror stories, as I think most have, and thought it’s about time there was a solution. That’s how the concept of CarSwitch.com was born; a platform where deals are still directly from sellers to buyers (to ensure value element) but CarSwitch certified specialists inspect every car, add warranties and walk customers through all the paper work to keep them safe. All the inspection details are put online, so you know exactly what you’re buying before you leave your home” said Hammad speaking to MENAbytes (formerly known as Qraar Blog) about the inspiration behind starting CarSwitch.com.
For sellers, they just have to initiate a request and pay a nominal upfront fee of 150 dirhams and the rest is taken care of by CarSwitch.com. After filling in few quick details about the Car and themselves, sellers are contacted by CarSwitch.com to agree on price of the car and success fee CarSwitch.com will charge (only) if they’re able to sell the car; this fee normally ranges from 1000 to 3000 dirhams. After receiving a confirmation for agreed price and success fee, a CarSwitch.com Certified Specialist also known as Switcher will visits the seller at a place and time of their convenience to conduct a 200 point check and take some pictures of the car.
After that, CarSwitch.com uploads everything about the car including the 200 point check on their website and advertises it on different channels including Facebook. From handling calls to closing the deal, CarSwitch.com takes care of everything. At the end, the seller has to come to Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) Dubai. They claim to sell the cars at 20% more than value offered by car dealers.
For buyers also, the process is very simple. They can look for cars on the website. All the cars listed there come with a 200 point certificate by CarSwitch.com and a three-month free warranty by a third-party. The warranty in most of the cases can be extended to a period of one year for fee of 1500 dirahms. Once they find a car they like, they can request a test drive. The CarSwitch team will get in touch to share the venue and timing for the test drive; their Switcher will be present there to assist you with any questions you may have about the car or buying process in general. If you like the car, you can reserve it for a small deposit that can be wire transferred or paid in cash. After that the buyer has to go to RTA just to seal the deal. The CarSwith.com’s Specialist will guide you with all the paperwork as well.
On average it takes CarSwitch.com a month to sell your car. Obviously there are faster ways, you can go to a dealer and sell your car on the same day but you lose 25-30% of the car’s value easily. CarSwitch.com is not a dealer, its a marketplace that helps people sell and buy cars and charges sellers a success fee. So you don’t really lose anything; not even your time as their Switchers take care of everything. For buyers, there are a lot of options with prices ranging from 15K AED to 500K AED. From a Ford Figo to Aston-Martin Vanquish, they have it all. My personal favorite feature is the ability to exactly see where the scratches are on the car. The website’s great user interface makes it very easy for you to get to know about scratches without seeing the car in-person.
When asked about how CarSwitch.com is different from the existing providers of similar services in UAE, Hammad told us:
“CarSwitch.com is quite different. Previously, UAE sellers could opt for a dealer sale / trade-in (online or brick & mortar) or try to sell it directly to an end buyer themselves through various classifieds portals. In the first option, you typically get a hassle free almost instantaneous sale but at a considerable discount to the fair value (to cover showrooms, cost & risk of inventory, profit margins). In the second, you typically maximize your value by selling to an end buyer but it can be quite a painful and very time consuming process with endless phone calls and sketchy conversations. Similar dynamics play out for buyers.”
He went onto add
“Used cars is a sizable market, $2.5b in the UAE alone, with several consumer segments different business models will cater to. CarSwitch.com targets a premium consumer segment in search of fair value of their used car but do not have the time / ability / energy to do themselves. In that way, we are very different. We take the end to end process off our seller’s hands so they get an end buyer for their car without the classic hassles involved (we photograph, inspect, warranty, handle phone calls, arrange test drives, and close the paper work). For buyers, they buy directly from end sellers so they pay fair value but get a full inspection, warranty and help with all the paper work from CarSwitch for free.”
Speaking about expansion plans, Hammad told us that they’re trying to focus on UAE only for now and will look into option of expanding into other markets when the right time comes.
“Demand has been staggering and the funds will primarily help us keep pace on both technology and operations. We have several exciting plans in the pipeline, some of which are already starting to pop up. To name a few, we’re bringing the transparency of online inspection results to many more with an iOS app that was recently launched and an Android app that is coming in a couple of months. We have a few analysts scouring through thousands of data points to build a FREE online car valuator. We’re expanding operations to help our buyer’s secure financing, insurance and connect them with helpful car related services.” said Hammad
At this time, CarSwitch has 17 reviews on Google with a rating of 5 out of 5 and more than hundred reviews on Facebook with a rating of 4.6 out of 5. That says a lot about the kind of services they offer.