With many markets firmly set in the modern online commerce era we live in, searching for and purchasing a vehicle can still be set in a pre-mobile phone technology era.
At least that was Tarek Kabrit’s experience when he was walking down a Beirut street in early 2015 and spotted a Mini Cooper he liked.
Curious as to what a car like that would sell for, he thought of the app Shazam, which can identify songs just by “listening” to a clip, informing the listener of the track title and artist’s name. Mr Kabrit wanted to be able to snap a photo of the Mini to get its exact make and model year and what he could expect to pay on the used market.
But no such service existed for looking up cars; as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
A typical car buyer spends 17 hours over the course of three or four months researching vehicles, pricing and where to buy, according to Edmonds, a used car site in the United States.
Mr Kabrit helped to create the app he wanted for himself, becoming the co-founder and Chief Executive of Seez, a meta-search engine that can condense months of research and turn it into a single search that takes a matter of seconds.
Seez can translate a photo of a car snapped on a smartphone or a bungled keyword search such as "nissan Petrol 2016" and clean up the cacophony of car adverts available online to provide vehicle specs and the fair market value, as well as what’s available to purchase nearby from dealers and individuals looking to re-sell, and a forecast of how much the car will depreciate over time.
“People are spending way too much time and I want to streamline the process,” Mr Kabrit says, adding that another shortcoming of the traditional process of buying a car is “there is no room for negotiation in the classifieds experience”.
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