How we created CurbieCurbie News January 03, 2018
Written by Alex Cruder, CEO of Curbie
Who would have known that Canada’s first online vehicle retailer would have found its start in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Let’s be honest, even Brent and I, Curbie’s very own co-founders, couldn’t have predicted it. Here’s how it all happened:
In the Beginning
As a young kid in Saskatoon, I always wanted to help others. Initially, I thought that meant fighting crime as a police officer or protecting the public from danger as a firefighter. As the years passed, my path took me away from emergency response but my desire to help others remained strong. This led me to careers in both the tech and finance sectors where I took on roles of increasing responsibility within organizations focused on enabling individuals or protecting the public.
In parallel, my future business partner, Brent, was discovering his own superpowers. He’s a savant when it comes to vehicles. As early as the age of three, he could identify the make and model of a car based on its wheels. Today, he’s an encyclopedia of vehicle performance statistics and manufacturer defects. Brent has owned as many vehicles as he is years old. He’s worked for dealerships, has been an owner in a automotive chemical company, and has developed a taste for driving Porsches.
A Natural Partnership
Brent and I have long been connected by family but had never met one another. It was around a year ago that my aunt first introduced us and we discovered a shared desire to build a better car-buying experience. Together, we studied Vroom and Carvana, two successful startups from the United States. We decided to adapt the best of their business models to the Canadian market and launch a company in Saskatoon. This company became Curbie.
Between the two of us, we had plenty of know-how, but we also had knowledge gaps. That’s where Ian Meier, Co-Founder of Bitstrata, and Daren McLean, CEO of Territorial, came in. These guys are experts in technology and marketing, respectively. The work that these men and their companies performed for Curbie, and the mentorship they provided helped to get Curbie up and running in only 8 months. To provide context, that’s normally the development timeline for a prototype and not a commercially-ready business. To this day, both Ian and Daren remain active members on our Advisory Board.
Shortly after launch, we applied to join Co.Labs, Saskatchewan’s largest incubator, and were accepted. Co.Labs exposed us to other startups who were further along in development, which then provided us with peers from which to learn. Co.Labs also forced us to pitch ourselves to panels of investors and successful startup founders. This was a brutal process. It meant being repeatedly torn to shreds in front of peers and stakeholders. As uncomfortable as it was, it made us better. Each pitch challenged us to tighten up our business model and simplify our messaging, and so we did. In October 2017, Curbie proudly won the incubator’s “The Best Startup” award.
So, what’s next?
Since the launch, we’ve been fortunate to connect with the best customers. We are grateful that each of them trusted Curbie with their first online vehicle purchase. Customer feedback has been positive, telling us that we’ve successfully delivered a better and unique buying experience than people have come to expect from used vehicle shopping. To back this up, almost every single one of our customers has referred friends or family to Curbie.
Brent and I are honoured to serve the Saskatoon community and we look forward to integrating the lessons from 2017 to provide even better service in 2018. It is our goal to make Curbie the benchmark for a great vehicle buying experience.