Andy Hinrichs | Crain's Los Angeles

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andy Hinrichs

Background:  

Based in Irvine, Calif., AutoGravity is a mobile technology platform that partners with the world’s leading banks, financial services companies and car dealerships to make it easier for people to find and finance a car.

The Mistake:

My mistake was misgauging the interest of car dealers in our technology.

For a bit of background: We started AutoGravity in January of 2016 after thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy and finance a car right from your home?” Increasingly, people are managing their lifestyles from their smartphones; when it came to buying and financing cars, though, we found that you couldn’t really do that from your smartphone — even though most American consumers will buy and finance a car at some point in their lives. We created AutoGravity to fill that void by building a platform to facilitate the car buying and financing process for car dealers, lenders and consumers.

In a nutshell, consumers could select a car, find a dealership near them, answer a few simple questions, and receive up to four finance offers within minutes.

When we first started, industry experts kept telling us that our product would be a hit with consumers, because they would love the ability to use their smartphones to facilitate the entire car buying and financing process. They said it would also be attractive to lenders and banks because it would bring them more volume. They thought dealers would dismiss the technology, though.

Keeping their predictions in mind, we formulated AutoGravity’s business model and strategy, and were very careful not to step on the dealers’ toes. But after being in the market, we learned that the dealers were the ones pushing for innovation. They were approaching us about joining the platform, rather than the other way around.

Never underestimate someone’s willingness and ability to innovate.

The Lesson:

Don’t listen to industry experts. Talk to the car dealers — or the potential audience — yourself, and never underestimate someone’s willingness and ability to innovate.

I think we realized the experts were wrong when Fletcher Jones, a huge Audi and Mercedes-Benz dealership group, came into our office before we even went live and said they wanted to partner with us.

Today, we have about 2,000 dealers on our platform nationwide, as well as 600,000 new users.

 

Follow AutoGravity on Twitter @AutoGravity.

​Photo courtesy of AutoGravity.