After spending months researching and hunting down a vehicle perfect for his needs and then being forced to do it all over again after a car accident wrote off his first choice, Jesse Thompson decided there had to be a better way.
“It’s likely the second-most significant purchase you will make in your lifetime and it’s a time-consuming and largely a hassle,” said Thompson who is close to launching Fetch Moto (formally HaggleFree) , a new web-based service which is designed to streamline the vehicle buying process.
Thompson said he spent three to four months researching vehicle options and negotiating with various salespeople before finally making a decision
“I was ultimately happy with my purchase but when I had to do it again, I thought dealers should be the ones doing the legwork and not so much the consumer,” he said.
The website, when launched in February, will enable consumers to create wish lists and specify between four to eight features when it comes to options on their new vehicles as well as price and budget expectations.
For dealers, who sign up for the program, they will be able to sift through the requests by consumers and then post their best offers alongside those of rival dealers.
“By making the entire process wide open, we expect that consumers will see a dealers’ best offer and make their decisions on that basis,” explained Thompson. “Deals will not be completed on the site but it’s a starting point and we will act as a matchmaker between consumer and dealer.”
The service is free for consumers while dealers will pay a monthly fee for access to customers committed to buying a new vehicle.
Thompson said that 90 per cent of the dealers he’s contacted have shown an interest in the platform.
It’s been a self-funded project so far but now others are taking notice.
Thompson was recently accepted into the AC JumpStart program, funded by FedDev Ontario and delivered in partnership with Waterloo’s Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and the University of Guelph.
It provides $30,000 in seed money along with mentorship and market research advice.
Thompson is also part of an entrepreneurship program administered by the EPICentre at the University of Windsor, was the recipient of WEtech Alliance’s 2019 “Tech Startup of the Year” Award, won first place at the EPICentre Founders program Demo Day competition and recently placed second in a start-up pitch competition in Detroit designed to help introduce new products and ideas to the marketplace.
“Jesse, his team, and Fetch Moto have started on a wonderful trajectory towards growth.” said Adam Castle, Director of Venture Services with WEtech Alliance. “We look forward to continuing to support their journey and to provide coaching and guidance as they embark on this new adventure with AC Jumpstart.”
Once his pilot program locally is successfully completed, Thompson says he plans to expand Fetch Moto to other markets.
Down the road, he hopes to open an office in Detroit’s Corktown which is becoming the centre of new vehicle technology courtesy of multi-million-dollar investments by Ford Motor Company. Thompson was educated at St. Clair College and George Brown College and worked with Red Piston and Splice Digital, a pair of Windsor-based software technology companies, before launching Fetch Moto.