Diego Sanson, VP of international bizdev at CarGurus (the No. 1 auto vertical in the U.S.), talked about his company’s growth trajectory at AutosBuzz. The company has also expanded into the U.K, Canada, Germany and France.

“Nothing that’s worth it is easy and disruption is both a sprint and a marathon,” he told Jonathan Turpin in a sit-down q-and-a session.

“Our goal is to create the world’s most trusted marketplace. Our freemium marketplace can’t easily be replicated by classified models and we see a large international opportunity.”

In the U.K., this translates into a CAGR of 172% for unique monthly users and a 107% CAGR of paying dealers, including users from recently acquired Pistonheads.

Diego Sanson, VP, International Business Development, CarGurus

Diego Sanson

“In other European markets we are using lessons from launching in Canada and U.K.,” he said.

Jonathan: Why are you growing faster in Europe than the U.S.?

Diego: In the U.S. we couldn’t invest as much to begin with. In Europe, we started from a stronger investment position. It gave is a jump start. We think dealers want an alternative. In most markets, there are just one or two big players, we think they want more choice.Some things can be copied and you need to do individual things quickly but as part of a longer journey. This doesn’t always work in a balanced way.

Jonathan: In the U.S., you have moved into private sales. Will this get dealers involved?

Diego: We want to help dealers do transactions differently and we have to take into account different rules in 50 different states. We see this as a big opportunity but it’s complicated and there are reasons why it hasn’t happened.

Jonathan: Tell us about your finance proposition?

Diego: Capital One is the option. Dealers still get their commission. We spent a long time thinking about this. We don’t want to marginalise the dealers who don’t want anyone messing with their F&I. Providing the ability for someone to prequalify for a loan is an opportunity for dealers to sell the car and other things. It works in the U.S. but how it scales internationally we have to work it out.

Jonathan: Are leads prequalified?

Diego: When a consumer comes on they can overlay the Capital One finance journey to get full approval so they can go to dealers and say they are pre-qualified. They don’t have to repeat the information.

Jonathan: What are the biggest barriers to the end-to-end transaction journey?

Diego: There are regulatory challenges and in the U.S. – this can be 50 different sets of rules. It’s not something we can control.

Jonathan: Will you succeed in Germany or will you pull the plug?

Diego: Nothing that’s worth it is easy and Germany proves that! It’s about figuring out how our model will work there.

Jonathan: Are you going after the No. 2 or after the No. 1 position in these markets?

Diego: It depends on the market position of the No. 1. We had the same issues and rivals in the U.S. If I look at our success in the U.S., it tells me it has to be possible.”



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