Gone are the days of traditional car buying for Ben Anderson, the first customer of Kansas City-based startup Prestio.
Anderson, an accounting professional at CBIZ, had grown deeply frustrated by auto dealerships, he said. In fall 2017, he turned to Prestio –– a first-of-its-kind software-as-a-service platform that allows customers to buy, trade, and finance vehicle purchases online –– in search of another option.
“I gave the parameters of what I was looking for and, at that point, they started sending me leads,” he said, expressing relief at not feeling trapped by aggressive salespeople.
Anderson recalled feeling mesmerized the day his Ford Explorer was delivered to his home in Overland Park. It was an experience free of pressure, hassle, and buyer’s anxiety, he said.
Prestio works directly with dealerships, providing an interface that allows them to sell vehicles through the platform while bypassing potential pain points for the buyer.
“Just me saying I don’t know what dealership it came from is a good thing in my eyes,” Anderson said.
His experience allowed him to select the right car at the right price without a single direct interaction besides the Prestio interface. It’s a point of pride for the startup, said Glen Dakan Prestio’s founder, noting the platform doesn’t share user data with dealerships.
Dakan himself faced a poor car buying experience in 2009 — a catalyst for building the business that ultimately would become Prestio, he said.
“I was in the Navy at the time, I was new to town, and I’m that guy –– I knew exactly what I wanted. But I went to the dealership and they couldn’t help me,” he said. “So I had to turn online and, in 2009 there weren’t many options, and I actually ended up going to another dealer like 1,500 miles away and that dealer didn’t know how to get me the car to my door and they didn’t want to do it.”
Frustration with traditional car sales isn’t one sided, said Ryan Matt, owner of Matt Ford in Buckner, Missouri –– Prestio’s first dealer partner.
“I’ve been looking for a solution for this for about three, four years,” Matt said as he detailed his prior experience with a failed Ford experiment to better connect online car buyers with his dealership’s inventory.
“I had people calling because the pricing’s not right,” he said of the previous platform. “They’d go from one page and it’s a $30,000 vehicle, then it jumps to the next page and it’s like $32,000. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re not getting me!’ They already don’t like us. You know, they already think that we’re up to something.”
Prestio is “up to something,” Dakan admitted: strengthening dealers’ sales forces.
With the ability to tie into the platform’s interface on the backend, dealers are in complete control of how customers view their inventory and pricing, he said. It’s a way of thinking the Prestio founder thinks can and will overhaul the car buying industry, Dakan said.
Further developing Prestio’s technology and identifying new dealer partners remains the company’s main focus, he said. Dakan also is one of four Kansas City startups in Pipeline’s 2018 fellowship — set to complete the program in January.
In the meantime, Prestio has secured customer loyalty in Anderson. The buyer revealed he won’t hesitate to use the service in the future.