Sy Bohy is the CEO & Co-Founder of Instamotor. Right after graduating from Stanford, Sy joined Nest and was part of the team acquired by Google. He enjoys coding and spending time in the outdoors.
How did you get into the industry?
A few years ago, I helped my mom purchase a used car online. What felt like a great deal ended up being a total scam, and I knew there had to be a better way. Soon after this experience, I connected with our Co-Founder Val Gui on Hacker News and we started discussing the used car space in depth. Together we identified ways the process could be more convenient and reliable for those looking to buy a used car. Within a few conversations, Instamotor was born.
Any emerging industry trends?
The fintech ecosystem has matured over the past several years, allowing companies like Instamotor to start offering financing even though it isn’t a primary competency of ours. We predict that we’ll continue to see more businesses and marketplaces monetize from fintech and insurance offerings.
Also, we have seen a shift over the past few years of people becoming more comfortable with the idea of peer to peer commerce. Airbnb is a prime example of this trend.
Lastly, with the use of artificial intelligence, we are able to expand on what we build and what we offer. Machine learning was previously used only by big players in the space, but now smaller companies are able to deploy arguably advanced technologies within their offerings. Instamotor uses AI for fraud detection and behavioral analysis, just to name a few.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Opportunities within the industry overall:
With the application of fintech, car buyers no longer have to go directly to the dealer to receive a loan, which makes the overall experience more convenient.
The private party sector is becoming more popular and appealing to the average consumer, which is essential for marketplaces like Instamotor.
Challenges within the industry overall:
The macroeconomic environment has been tough for middle class Americans. Since transportation is a major source of spending (and a necessity) for many Americans, the industry has had to respond to the demand for affordable options.
With electric cars becoming more mainstream, the industry can no longer keep the status quo with gas vehicles. We may see an urgency for people to switch to electric and higher efficiency vehicles within the next several years.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
The inspiration came after my mom and I were the victims of an online car buying scam. Knowing I wasn’t the first to be scammed, I knew there had to be a better way. I shared my experience on Hackers News forum and was connected with our co-founder, Val Gui. Val had previously managed twelve dealerships with $450 million in combined revenue. During his dealership days, he identified inefficiencies within the system and wanted to find ways to improve them. After a few conversations, we came up with the idea for Instamotor.
Our vision for Instamotor is to create a space where people can transact with each other safely and transparently, and save money along the way. We want to educate our users on used car purchasing so they feel confident they are getting a good deal, and so they know how to prolong their purchase.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Instamotor will be offering loans in 2017. This way, Instamotor can be a one stop shop for users who want to finance their used car purchase without having to talk to a dealership or bank.
We currently serve San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas. We aim to expand to additional markets in 2018.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
To ensure future success of the business, we will be launching a research platform people can use to better educate themselves on buying a used car. We’ll also be securing additional partnerships with auto lenders.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Instamotor’s initial business model entailed someone from our team going to the seller’s house, taking photos of the car, washing the car, creating ads for it, scheduling and facilitating test drives, etc. Think TaskRabbit for selling a car. We quickly realized this business model wasn’t fluid, so we had to be adaptable and find areas of improvement. We made some hard decisions (for example, we had to let our dedicated early employees go while we pivoted), but we knew the decisions we were making were necessary if we wanted this business to scale.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
An ideal experience for our customers would be for them to have a positive experience overall. We want Instamotor users to be able to find a car they really love, feel good about the purchase, and get easy access to financing at a low rate, all while being educated on how to get the biggest bang for their buck and increase the lifespan of their car.
How do you motivate others?
We genuinely care about the wellbeing of all of our employees. We try to hire top talent people whose goals and passion align with ours. Also, Val and I are as transparent as we can be because we want the team to always know what’s going on. We’re in this together, it’s not an individual effort.
We also focus on making sure that people can grow while they work here. We encourage learning, and provide a $5,000 per year stipend for our employees to go to conferences, take courses, buy books, etc.so that they can actually further their education.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Identify a real problem many people have and come up with a way to solve it. Don’t be afraid to pursue endeavors that are “unsexy”.