Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Tred Brings Home Test-Drives to Car Shopping, With Backing From Investors Like Chris Sacca

Isn’t everything about the process of buying a car just … fantastic? Yeah, not at all.

Tred Cars, Seatle Public MarketAs an alternative to both the pushy salespeople at the lots and the overwhelming, inconsistent inventory on the Web, a startup called Tred has what might be a better idea: Home test-drives.

For $19 per car, Tred employees come directly to shoppers’ homes, bearing product information and market research rather than sleazy negotiating tactics. Customers do have to go to a dealer to eventually purchase the car of their choice.

Tred employees aren’t salespeople, and they don’t work on commission (apparently, the company tried that in an earlier version that didn’t work as well). Tred is paid an unspecified fee by the dealers.

Right now, Tred is only available in the Seattle area — in fact, it only has four of these car delivery people, total. The company is in talks to expand via affiliate deals with dealers, said Tred CEO Grant Feek.

In testing, Feek said the company is seeing conversion rates of 40 percent. “What got me was this is a conversion-based business,” said Tred investor Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, who said he first heard about the startup through an email from the investing site AngelList. “You can watch data move all the way through the system.”

While a car is indeed a big purchase, and Tred isn’t necessarily aiming to be a more expensive option, “The last couple innovators in our domain have been 100 percent focused on price,” Feek noted. “We really believe that there’s more to this process than price.”

Tred was part of the TechStars program, and has raised $1.7 million from Fraser McCombs Capital, Lowercase Capital, Maveron Capital, former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner and others.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google