When looking to buy a car, most people start their experience online, then walk into a brick and mortar dealership with a specific idea of what sort of vehicle they want to purchase. Prodigy, a US-based car searching platform looks to be part of the experience, by creating a service that customers use online and salespeople use on-site to help a buyer discover the right car for them. So, for example, customers might want to come in and try a few things out, and then go home and continue to research. Prodigy recently said it has raised $5.4 million in a seed round led by 8VC, Battery Ventures, SV Angel and CrunchFund.
“Car buying habits are changing — you have customers visiting 1.6 dealerships down from 6 dealerships,” says Michia Rohrssen, co-founder of Prodigy. “Those customers are doing an average of 18 hours to 20 hours of research before going in. When they get there they’ve done so much research chances are they know more than the salesperson does. The consumer has changed significantly over the last 5-10 years, yet the dealership hasn’t changed much. Our mission from day one was, we want to build software that equips dealers with the tech they need to handle these customer changes and deliver.”
Like so many other startups, getting here was more of a discovery process for Prodigy, which started off as just focusing online. Rohrssen said this serviced a niche-within-a-niche part of the sales component for dealerships, but they found that a few were running it on iPads internally and kind of bending the service to work toward the way it does now. So they went back to the drawing board with that information and ended up with the result here.
The other goal was to unify the whole sales process into a single unit, while dealerships are used to jumping from six to eight different services. To test that, dealerships brought in fresh salespeople — who weren’t accustomed to the traditional process — and equipped them with iPads to see if it worked. So far the results have at least piqued the interest of a handful of dealerships, Rohrssen said,
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