Craigslist Creeps vs. Car Concierges

Buying or selling a car, especially a used car, is usually a pretty terrible experience. It’s inconvenient, time-consuming, and plagued with uncertainty. For years, consumers have been getting a raw deal. And little to nothing has been done to change the process.

Need groceries? There’s Instacart. Need to sell your vintage jeans? threadUp. Need tickets to Kanye? StubHub’s got them. The list goes on. But when it comes to selling your beloved Prius — one of the biggest financial decisions you’ve made to date — your options are not only limited: they’re antiquated. For most people the process looks something like this: three weeks of dealing with flaky, indecisive buyers; half a dozen text messages in the middle of the night; a person over the phone asking if you’ll extend them a “personal line of credit.” How is it that, in the 21st century, when there’s an app for almost everything, the car industry has been largely ignored?

I saw a broken industry that needed to be fixed. So I quit my job at Google and convinced a couple of brave colleagues to join me in my quest for a better way.

Together, we started Shift, an online marketplace built around our Car Enthusiast model. Our vision: to develop groundbreaking technology that streamlines the process of pricing, buying, and selling used cars, as well as to train passionate experts who add a crucial human element to an overwhelming experience. Selling your car should be a simple task, not a dreaded, time-consuming undertaking (just think of how many people hold onto their cars simply because they “don’t want to deal with it”).

Today, we’ve come closer to realizing this vision, with the introduction of the Shift iPhone app: a new resource designed to assess and sell cars based on the most accurate market pricing. It’s an industry-first resource that provides consumers a customized car valuation by considering nuanced data that isn’t used in existing pricing standards like Kelley Blue Book. Our proprietary algorithm considers everything that could impact the sale price: actual transactions, real-time demand, market dynamics and geographic variations (a car that regularly drives through the snow in Salt Lake City will likely be worth a bit less than the same car driven every day in sunny San Diego), making as-needed adjustments for mileage and demand at auction.

So how does it work?

Take a photo with your phone, enter some simple details, and bam–the most accurate estimate of your car’s value. The rest is a snap:

  1. Enter your car info into the Shift app (available today!)
  2. Live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, go to step 3 (for everyone else, we’re coming to your city soon!)
  3. Schedule a pick-up with a Shift Car Enthusiast. They’ll come to your home, workplace, or wherever you like and do an in-person inspection to confirm the guaranteed minimum sale price.
  4. If you want to move forward with the sale, the Car Enthusiast will take your car to Shift’s warehouse where we’ll do a 200-point inspection, any repairs (with your approval of course), give your old ride the best wash and detail of its life and treat it to a photo shoot that would make any supermodel envious.
  5. You go back to your life.
  6. We get photos, specs, and a snappy listing text to prospective buyers.

Our app is just one more way that Shift is pushing the car industry forward, while staying true to our founding principle: to offer consumers exceptional service for less money, and create a higher standard for the entire industry. And the proof is in the pudding: 18 months ago, we were working out of the living room of my apartment. Today we’re one of the top car sellers in San Francisco and are rapidly expanding across the country.

This is the future of car ownership: Shift sells your car for you. No more shady deals or flaky Craigslist buyers. No more wasted Saturdays or late-night texts. We work as a personal concierge for both sellers and buyers from start to finish. In an era when you can instantly arrange for anything from a ride to a house cleaner, shouldn’t car ownership be just as easy and stressfree?

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