Nick Hinrichsen is the CEO of Clutch – a newly-launched technology platform created to help Americans save thousands of dollars on car payments with just a few clicks. Nick previously founded Carlypso, a YCombinator startup that was acquired by Carvana in 2017. Nick sits down with Chris Snyder to share more about his experience creating a successful startup, raising $10M in funding, and what’s next for Clutch.
Today’s show is sponsored by banks.com – the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products & services. Banks.com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands.
[00:00:44] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder of Financial Services Platform Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure, told through the stories of the top entrepreneurs and executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Today's sponsor is Banks.com, the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products and services. Banks.com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions, bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands. To learn more, you can go to banks, dot com forward slash partners, or you can send an email to info at Banks.com. Our guest today is Nick Hinrichsen. He is the CEO of Clutch, a newly launched technology platform created to help Americans save thousands of dollars on car payments. With just a few clicks, Nick previously founded Carlypso, a Y Combinator startup that was acquired by Carvana in 2017. Nick is here to share more about his experience creating a successful startup, raising 10 million bucks and what's next for Clutch? Welcome, Nick. Well, thanks for having me. We appreciate it. Yeah. I appreciate you being here. This is gonna be a fun show because I think you and I know a lot about Financial Services. We've done a lot of this. But before we dove into, you know, Carlypso, carven, clutch, all that stuff. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing, you know, where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.
[00:02:31] Sure. I'm actually from Germany, originally born and raised in Munich. That's where the October 1st is.
[00:02:36] Just in case. God, I love beer. You should have said that. I just did. Gonna have up enough to put the show on pause now and go get a stinking vlog in that one. Race in Munich.
[00:02:51] My parents are originally from Argentina, so grandparents left Germany before the war. Friends were born and raised in Argentina, came back for a semester abroad, stayed for 40 years. Two brothers and I born and raised in Germany. Fast-Forward, I ended up playing golf and the national team in Germany for five years. And so there was a time when I thought I'd become a professional golf player. Instead, I ended up going to college, study computer science and finance, joined a renewable energy startup, but ended up moving to the U.S. in 2011 to go to business school. Excellent. And then business school. I met Chris, who would later on become my co-founder, and these is now the second company. He's a huge car enthusiast. Is this his first car was a Delora. And you know, the one from back to the future? I do. So that's the extent to which he loves cars. When we graduate and 13 of our classmates assess for advice how to sell used cars, and then we went from giving advice to selling Liberi 100 cars or so on Craigslist in a few days. And that's when we noticed that experience is really messed up. There must be a way to do it.
[00:03:59] Oh, my God. Wait a second. So you're golfing and you're like, okay, I'm going to go back to school. You're hanging out. You guys, one of your buddies is a car guy. Correct. And you basically leverage the new platforms for distribution, whether it be eBay, Craigslist. All these guys started kind of piling in air BMD the same way right now. Right. It's like if you have a house or an extra house. Boom. Your you have immediate distribution, which is awesome. So you guys, you are selling cars on Craigslist.
[00:04:32] Whose idea was that? Not mine. Oh, my God. Do you set a few interesting things that there is?
[00:04:41] Justin Cotton was one of the co-founders of Twitch here. He wrote this favorite is this famous tweet. First time founders are obsessed about product. Second time founders are obsessed about distribution. And it's true, like the you can you can have the best product before you have no way to get it to customers like it's worthless now. So what they're buying that they leverage an existing distribution to build their own, cannibalized Craigslist and build their own distribution. And that's that's what we had in mind, too. So we we knew that we could find a lot of people who wanted to sell their cars. That was actually pretty easy. We leveraged Craigslist as a distribution channel just to then sell the cars to other private buyers. Yeah. So what's to build a platform?
[00:05:27] So what you're talking about. Obviously, this is for the listeners, not for us, because we know this. But what you're talking about is you have to figure out which side of the marketplace to solve for whether the supply side or the demand side. The supply side in your case was the people who had cars that wanted to sell them. Right. And those were easy to come by. But maybe hooking up the demand side, which is which are the consumers. That was the problem you had to solve. You know, the other interesting thing about this, one of my buddies that I went to college with, this was twenty five years ago or however long ago, a long time ago. They owned a car lot. They sold used used cars and they had like five lots. It was called Wheel City Motors. And you've seen you've seen these you could use car lots. Right. Like, there's a lot of infrastructure. You have sales people. There's like mechanics in you guys basically were like fucking we're not doing any of that. We're going to sell someone's car on Craigslist. But how did you pull it off? Because I remember going there and they would wash the cars. They had a mechanic there.
[00:06:33] They had to do a a fox report or whatever with car fancy. You know, I just remember the Fox Business News report had that, too, that you might want to do that, too.
[00:06:44] But how did you pull that off in a way that could have provided the most quality relative to a car lot that you went up there? Maybe there were a shop. You could take it back to you. You guys were like hawking these things on Craigslist.
[00:06:56] Yeah. So you said a lot of really fascinating things. So a yes marketplace. You have you need to find supply of cars. You need to find demand for cars. Once you find those, these things become really valuable because you have you can either call a demand side increasing returns or you can call it network effects. Yeah. The more sellers there are, the more buyers will go, the more buyers. There are more sellers who go there. And so that was that was the thesis behind what we were doing. The the reason why we thought there's an arbitrage opportunities because the experience in Craigslist was so shit, that's easy to improve. And when we sold our classmates cars, we realized the most painful part of selling a car is to wait for the test drive. Never shows up or shows who shows up just so either low balling or kick the tires. Yeah. The innovation we thought was attaching a device to our starting devices, two cars that would allow a test server to test out of the car by themselves. So very much like Zipcar, where you swipe your I.D., get access the car you test drive it. If you like it, you'll just keep it. We do like the deal completely in way.
[00:08:01] Did you guys come up with that tech? Is this some crazy German engineering BMW, Mercedes stuff that you guys brought over from Germany? Like what happened there?
[00:08:09] It's more like Richmond, Virginia engineering, which is this a move into M.I.T. undergrad and studied mechanical engineering, OK.
[00:08:16] And even better. Even better.
[00:08:19] It's like domestic. But I know that was the. We thought that the reason why Craigslist exists is because they have distribution. The reason why nothing better exists is because you need a managed marketplace.
[00:08:31] You need to some extent. As as the company add value and that value started out with, well, removing the test staff experience or the burden from the seller. But then when you sat it, the next thing went from a cane. Now we need to inspect these cars and guarantee the condition to some extent, and then we need to detail them. And so the goal was to never have to take cars and inventory to always make sure the seller owns it. And it's just more of a consignment model because then we don't need any capital than we can scale a really nice thing. The problem that we ran into, which is also the reason why we ended up pivoting to what was on paper a much better model. The seller is both a seller in buyer emotional that they're not selling and buying cars all the time. So the seller always thinks this car is worth more than one. And the buyer. So price sensitive, you'll just haggle forever to get fifty dollars off now make a deal happen. You actually disappoint both of your customers. Oh my God.
[00:09:26] I can only imagine that this is all happening like in front of someone's house and in their garage. Like standing your meeting random shows. Yeah.
[00:09:38] So it started with us meeting random person sitting in the backseat. Later on, it actually worked out really nicely that quote unquote, Brandos, as he labeled them. They just test out these cars by themselves. Dozens of them at the same time. It was really great because that skill really nicely. Like, we didn't have to bother about having to be that person. The test driver also preferred being by him or herself. So that was part of the reason that model doesn't scale very well is because of a very, very different interests and objectives of the seller and the buyer.
[00:10:08] Got it. So more psychological and emotional, not so much the actual train track that was built to make the transaction.
[00:10:17] Yeah. Until the way we addressed the issue was we we replaced the private sellers with institutions. There's leasing companies, rental companies, fleets that this this have to benefits. They're usually not allowed to sell to consumers directly, but they go through what's called the wholesale auction. Yet another very good marketplace to car dealerships. And so the two reasons this worked well is a huge inventory of thousands of cars since they are hundreds. And then they're really rational around pricing. Like, it's just for them, it's metal. It's all numbers and members driven. We know what these cars cost. It's a portfolio versus a singular sale of a single person. So we went from having hundreds of cars in inventory overnight to 30000 cars that we could sell to consumers, and then since we took out the middleman, the traditional dealership, we offered these cars for much, much lower prices than other dealerships. And as a result and all these classified pages. We always ranked highest. So when you were looking for a Honda Accord or something. Our cars would always be first because structurally we had a lower cost structure. And as a result, we could offload cars with a lower price. And as a result, we were first of the search for a page.
[00:11:31] Yeah. And so this is a B to be a C model. Is it still a marketplace then, or is it more of just there's still one sided. You buy stuff low and you sell it high.
[00:11:43] I mean, no, because we weren't buying. We weren't taking inventory again. It was we were consigning. But this time from institutions, there was a natural urgency because the institutions have they have their exact plan of how they work on disposing of their vehicles. And there is a certain window when we have access to inventory, if we don't buy it, somebody else will. Because it goes to auction. And the reason needs to be in marketplaces because, A, you need to be a licensed dealer to sell cars. B, that means you're regulated, which means you need to make sure that cars are in good condition. So when you deliver the car to the customer, you at least have to look over it and replace the brakes and tires if necessary, make sure all the lights work and see. And this is what drove the insight for the new business that we were providing financing and insurance products to customers and bought from us. Because people people don't buy usually don't buy cars with cash. They get a financed.
[00:12:36] And that, my friends, is see, you've got to meet a buddy who likes cars enough to start walking home on Craigslist. And the rest is really history. So was that Carlypso? That was Carlypso. And then so why that sounded like such a big, great business. So that was, you know, then you sold it to Carbon-Carbon is huge, right? What is your ticket? Carlypso out. Why don't you just stick with it?
[00:13:00] No question. So the source of capital we had chosen for the business was venture capital, like typical venture capitalists, funds from the Bay Area expecting like the Facebook type of growth and returns which we had. That was our ambition, too. The struggle is the second. Yes. You move physical objects like cars. They're big and heavy. You need reconditioning centers. And so instead of buying cloud computers and storage and computing power, we will use them capital. We raised four warehouses and detailers. Yeah, those don'ts don't skill that very well. Problem number one. Problem number two has since we burned in possession of the vehicles. But we were consigning them. People couldn't test drive. And that's OK because we gave the guarantees. But if you market to the mass market and tell them you can test drive. But the prices are lower. This won't work. It only worked really, really well if the consumer really knew what he wanted. The first hundred fifty sales. That's that's three and a half million dollars a month. They were really easy. Like, that was a really good small business because they were selling to Uber drivers, to people who had a car lease, just wanted a new version to commuters. The second we tapped, we we went beyond hundred fifty cars a month. We tapped out of the like, early adopter, really rational or buyer segment into this segment of people that saved up for their next BMW for two years. And we're really emotional about the purchase. The majority of car buyers and selling to them. I think we were just a little too early. Postcoital would have been very different. Yeah. Yeah. As a result, we decided to not raise more money and force growth that wasn't fast enough, but instead sold the technology we had built to Corvalan because the technology was really strong and powerful. And at Covanta, we could just apply it on a much, much broader scale.
[00:14:50] And now you're like, wait a second, we are never doing metal in warehouses ever again, because now I feel like the comment you made about, you know, databases, data warehouses in cloud computing, that's probably where we're going with Clutch. Right. You're very smart. I don't know. I just happened to be funding like a squirrel fund and not every once in a while. So. So, yeah.
[00:15:14] Let's talk about Clutch - it's a digital platform to refinance auto loans. The goal is to use it as a wedge into the market to built credit karma for auto everything around auto ownership. The reason that's compelling is threefold. Number one, when we were selling cars, we noticed that 80 percent of the people who had a car loan or needed a car loan got the car running through us. The dealership. But the dealer doesn't have the same objectives as he is a customer. The dealer wants to maximize margin. I won't give you the loan. The pace is the lowest interest rate and set the dealer will give you the loan that pays the highest referral fee. Very simple. It's basically Legion. Yep. Problem number one, as a result, customers end up in loans they could refinance and. The second the dream of a lot of people just don't know they can do it. Second thing that happens is not so much in the super prime segment, but if your credit score is below 700, you don't know what rate you should be getting. And that's also the segment of the population that doesn't think about EPR. That's the segment that things about monthly payment. Yeah, exactly. And so if you're in that segment and you make your payments, you move, you migrate from either subprime into near planet or from near prime into prime credit. Yet your interest rate is still stuck. And the rate when you got the car. And since auto loans are interest rates can be all the way up to twenty nine percent of your deep subprime. The second you migrate and credit, even if it's just 50 or 80 points and a credit score, that means you can lower your rate by five, six, seven percent. Yeah, and I mean fifteen or twenty thousand dollars. That's a lot of money.
[00:16:47] Yeah. And if you finance it at the dealer though, usually they have like what, GMAC financing. They're like sign right here. You can drive this car off the lot. Back to emotions. Oh it's two hundred dollars a month. Oh OK. I got it. And then you walk out of there and you never think about it again because. Exactly. You're paying for the car for three or four years and you have no idea.
[00:17:07] Right. Exactly. Yeah. And then these two insiders let us to be convinced there is an opportunity. The third one, this is more us now being in the fortunate situation that we can we have a little time and saving it financially after the sin of our previous company. We really want to do something that helps people. And getting people out of loans that car loans, helping them into much better products is a mission that we were just really passionate about. Because if you have two people, both of them have a car, one pays like 20 percent. The other one continuously refinances, which hardly exists. People don't do it. But he could make the people, the person who can refinance all the time starts having equity and put put saving society can invest in the stock market. And then you have compounding interests working in your favor versus the other person who has a high interest car loan that's compounding interest against himself. Yeah, negative equity all the time. And so I think this since cars in the US are so important, everybody has a car is one hundred million car loans. I think this is a large contributor to this big, big gap between the rich and the poor. The poor just can't get out of it.
[00:18:13] Yeah, it's the same. You know, you could you could say the same thing about health insurance or anything dramatically related like this is. I mean, it's kind of bullshit. I mean, let's let's be honest that there isn't anyone motivated enough or hasn't figured out how to put a guy in Kraul everybody's bank account. It'd just be like, well, you had mentioned credit karma. Right? And I know there's tools out there like that now, but they're fairly recent. They crawl your stuff and they go, guys, why are you paying for these subscription products? Why are you paying for this? Why are you paying for that? Did you know that you could save you know, it's not the Geico commercial. It's like they're actually crawling through your bank account and realizing your car payment and the make model your car because you can also put it in there. You're upside down and you're paying 19 percent interest on a BMW that's worth three grand.
[00:19:01] It's like you're preaching to the choir. That's exactly what we're doing.
[00:19:05] Oh, my God, that's amazing. And it's a huge market. Right.
[00:19:09] Here's the thing is, you also said it early on. People don't do it. The reason people haven't done it before is because it's really inconvenient and you laugh about this. But if you Google auto refinance like it's it's not the providers that pop up. It's not the banks that actually offer you good rate or like a player that creates transparency and tells you is the rate that's best for you. Instead, it's the affiliate websites as they're writing the blogs that will help you. And then they're in high end content, like if you if you write about 17 verticals, like you write lots of pieces, but none very in-depth pieces versus what we're focusing on is just the car expense. That's something we just really understand very well because we've been in space for seven years. Yeah. And give you a really good advice. Plus, we are the provider ourselves. So we're not only going to tell you go there and refinance, but really just click here. We'll take care of it for you.
[00:20:03] Yeah, well, that's interesting. I'm glad you said that actually, because I think the incentives for the aggregators and lead generators out there are not aligned with, you know, customer core values and that either.
[00:20:18] So let's flip the dealership like a website and you're selling leads. Will you give it to the one who pays most?
[00:20:25] Yeah, and that's not right. Because you're actually saying that you're giving the consumer a preference and you open up the list of options. That list of options are the only options that that dealer or that aggregator decided to go and do business with. That is not the whole list of options of 5000 banks on the planet plus multiple fintech that provide auto financing. Right. Exactly. So let me ask a question then. So how do you guys do that? Are you angry? Are you going to credit unions? Are you going to like how does your model work then? Are you are you are are you getting referrals as well? Are you your own bank? How does that work?
[00:21:03] Good question. So, you know, the chicken and the egg problem is always demand side, supply side, the supply side.
[00:21:09] I look at those are the products we're offering to our customers. Yes. The dealer has. That's the deal as an example, because it's really easy to understand. The data has one problem. He has, say, 200 cars on his lot. If he's really, really good, he will sell 200 cars a month. He wants some more. So in order to grow his business, he can't sell the cars quicker. It's just what it is. And he doesn't have any physical infrastructure or he has to add more parking space and invest in order to maximize profit, he needs to make as much money on the two Carthy souls as possible. That means the lead referrals, goes to the bank, go to the bank that pays most in our case. Let's just assume for a second we own distribution. We have endless customers will come in and ask us for help. Like for us, the most important thing is that they refer us to their friends and family and B that we find a reason to be sticky. So they come back and we give them more and more advice. The best way to do it is to be by far the cheapest. Our referral fee to the to the lenders. We have a lending network that we're working with is we'd like we're deliberately choosing the lowest one because we put lifetime value on a relationship with a customer and don't have the same incentives as a car dealer that we need to maximize the profit on every single lead. That makes sense.
[00:22:24] Yeah. Yeah. So how far along are you guys in this journey? Is it is it up and running enough to where you have the network on both sides, supply and demand. People are actually tapping your network to save money and get amazing rates on vehicles by asking you left for a second.
[00:22:41] And then let me start with the answer. The other life. It's a better version of what we're trying to do. It's safe and it's a fully functioning can. Go to our website of Clutch. That's the company with Clutch. That comes the website. There's very, very few clicks.
[00:22:55] You can go from your personal details to with consent to from credit offer. And then it's a it's a handoff right now. It's not fully digital at the end, but it will hand you off to a lender that will be a really good fit. Give them your circumstance long term. All of that will happen on the Web site and we'll be really fully digital. You can refinance in as little as two minutes. There should be three months out from now.
[00:23:16] Got it. So it's so it's a bit of a legion at the front. And then it sounds like prequel, right? Maybe from your own, which turns into a firm offer of credit. But then the application process, which isn't ideal because some of these guys probably aren't as good with tech as they need to own it. Yeah. So you don't own that part. Yeah. But at least you're getting them to the right network. That gets them the best rate. Get some taken care of.
[00:23:45] So that's correct. And everything you're saying is. That's again your new continua. Quit preaching to the choir. And that's the story we told our investors when we were just raising funds. We left and we left Karvonen towards end of June.
[00:23:57] So less than six weeks or eight weeks ago. So we have we was only at eight weeks to build and we spent half of that time fund raising. So we closed the round. We're about to go. We're about to officially launch. Yet the website already does the trick. And the goal is exactly as you said, you need to own the experience and need to collect the documents. And instead of handing over a hot leat, you want to hand over a package that you can execute as a lender without having to talk to the customer yet another time.
[00:24:27] Yeah. This is this is super fascinating. So let's talk about. Well, first of all, you guys finish your transaction within six weeks. You started Clutch. You guys you guys like board. You weren't tired from going through all the bullshit with all the stuff in this and the other stuff in the warehouse using Craigslist.
[00:24:52] This is very clever. I'm very impressed because you're like, wait a minute, this is what's going on.
[00:24:58] Here's what we sold the company to Cravan. We we were really excited about the opportunity to come on board and built and help build Kavala because we wanted to see it through. We had our we had brought our company collects it to level say to where we wanted to go to level 10. So we changed elevators and then continued all the way up to 10. And now I think caravanners it like twelve or thirteen. Okay. After three years, we felt like a we had we had seen what we wanted to see. We had learned tons. The were humbled and taught and got smarter. Yet the intrapreneur which started like Buck, started itching again. And so we were excited to build another company for years. The we're very close and friends with the executives and the founders of Vermont and told them, hey, why don't we. But Chris and I take off. We leave the rest of the team with you guys will continue to be shareholders and then strong supporters and cheerleaders. But we build another company. And so we left and full of energy to start the company.
[00:25:58] Yeah, well, you know, that's a good point, because usually I'm glad you described this for the listeners, because usually these things take like seven to 12 years or whatever. So you guys were in and out and three or four. And if you would have taken much longer of a break, you probably would have lost a little bit of the way. I use the wrong words, caché experienced contacts. There's all the stuff that you guys still kept really intact that you did not skip a beat, which that was.
[00:26:30] In reality, the prime motivation was we just wanted to do something new and we got really excited when we sold our company after four years. Admittedly, we're a little bit exhausted because you bang your head against the wall. Yeah. And then we landed very softly and we're starting to work on things that actually grew really well. We're also all of a sudden starting to get a salary versus a budget that barely paid for ramen noodles. So life changed to a little bit after the sale. And then we got really excited. The beauty of what? Why momentum mattered a little bit as we left. Caravana told investors, we're raising and we had a term sheet and a week or so. Yeah. Haven't really quickly because the momentum helped. Yeah. I want to believe it's the business that's us. But in reality, it's a little bit the momentum. Yeah. And also, like there's the saying, don't ever let a good crisis go to waste. I would argue it's a really good opportunity to start the business today for two reasons. A people people are looking for creative ways to access cash and accessing your positive equity in your car or loan your monthly payments is clearly one of those. And people haven't done it yet. Not at a broad scale. And then know that people are forced to get car loans at a higher rate because they may have missed a credit card payment. Yep, those people are locked into loans that they can refinance and 18 months from now when we're starting to see the hockey stick in our growth. So that's a momentum and inflection that we didn't want to miss.
[00:27:58] Yeah, well, you guys are definitely equipped and qualified and dare I say, young enough to do it. So what are you. You know, you talked about fundraising a little bit there. Can you compare, maybe compare and contrast the experience? It sounded like Carlip, so was a lot different than Clutch. Could you talk about either like the winds you had on the on the first right on the first funding and then maybe or the lot were the things you just totally fucked up and you're like, I can't believe we did that. We still got money. Relative to where you're at now, this is kind of an exciting day.
[00:28:33] I'm trying to do hoster is funny with hindsight. Like, how did that happen to me?
[00:28:37] We back her lips. Abey's just graduated sending our classmates cars. Chris had already signed an offer with a private equity fund. So you had a job already that was going to start four weeks after graduation. I had barely figured out how you can stay in the country for visa reasons. We were selling these cars and then at some point I wake up in the morning. As they do it, I need to figure out my life. I want to start a company, but I have no idea what space. I have not made any progress in that direction while a business school. So I reached out to a good friend, professor and mentor, where I respect a lot indirectly. He happens to be the defined of wealth front lecturer at Stanford and asked him for a beer and if I could pick his brain. And he usually gives the advice that you should join a tech company that's a rocket ship that's growing really fast. So you join. And then two, three, four years out. People will refer to you as you were early at X. You were early at Google, you were early at Facebook, you were early at Urban B. And so that accelerates careers in the Bay Area. And so that was what I thought you'd give me in terms of advice. SAT down and had a beer for an hour after an hour. It's like, I need to go. I'm so sorry. One thing I notice is the last fifty five or fifty five out of the last 60 minutes means you were talking about how you're selling cars. So I think you should make this a business. And if you want to do that, I'd love to give you fifty thousand dollars to get started.
[00:30:02] That was not what I expected. So I called Chris and I. Do we have a problem? And B, once invest. I don't know what he's saying, but he thinks we should pursue this. And Chris, like great. Said I can cancel my job.
[00:30:14] Yeah. But then you got to go to Delaware, filed for incorporation. Get the guy stock. Get your. Like, did you have all that stuff together? Did you have to start scrambling?
[00:30:23] Thankfully, the bears very, very well equipped for that. So the way the what happened is indirectly being the first chicken. And this is how these things were tons of momentum. We started picking the brain of friends, family, other professors, and our initial thought was raised two hundred fifty thousand dollars as a little seed round. We ended up with one point two million dollars after four weeks or so just because there was so much excitement.
[00:30:50] I still don't understand why, but maybe because you sold like a hundred cars a month on Craigslist. That is shocking to me. That that's it's so it's so simply brilliant. There's no complexity to it at all. And it's so obvious. And that's how all the best ideas are. It's like, why didn't I think of that?
[00:31:10] I could tell you this is because you didn't have a hundred friends who needed to sell their car and begged you to do that. So we sell. But I think your message is a really good one.
[00:31:19] If you want to start a company, the most important thing to just get going. Yeah, if you think about it, you know, you'll think yourself out of doing things. And so since we didn't think we did things and Andy said the reason that I'm excited about it is a you just hustler's like I know another startup. They were selling pens out of their trunk and up became bonobo's. And you remind me that you're selling cars of your classmates and is clearly willing and able to roll up your sleeves and then be. I just think Chris especially is very authentic to the space. He loves cars. And C, you just demonstrated that you're willing and able to solve problems. So, yeah, I want to be part of this. It's such a great story. Yeah, we got lucky there. We raised that round, went through by carbonator, which is startup accelerator, and and usually you pitch. And people like that's part of the excitement of new businesses invest. We raise a lot more money. And then the serious a which brought us up to a total of ten million dollars, that was based on traction because all of a sudden we started selling a lot of these cars that we use consigns with institutions. Got it. Got him. That was the previous round. And then the second or the last round for the new company was different because we left permanently. We had a concept in our deal. We had a prototype website with a few pages, some very initial SEO data that we'd be able to compete on a few terms that are very long tail. But we didn't have any product. We didn't have any revenue. We hadn't sold anything yet, went out and talked to investors and told them what we were doing. And most investors said, no, we're we're used to the traditional model where you need to present something to us that has a little bit of traction. But then we ended up talking to a fund that very much understood the thesis of, oh, you're taking people who have demonstrated good behavior in the payments and you doubled down, make their lives better. That's a thesis. And you said it yourself first. Very similar to health insurance. Wherever you have somebody who's really healthy, can run a mile in eight minutes, doesn't smoke, doesn't doesn't drink any alcohol like that, insuring that person should be cheaper now. And so the thesis is very much aligned with what the fund of the firm knew. And then they said, what's the biggest threat we can raise? That makes sense for you guys where we can own 20 percent and they give you a real shot at making this happen. We agree with the problem and we agree that the two of you, out of all the people we know would be the ones who are most, most well positioned to succeed here. And that's how we ended up closing that route.
[00:33:44] Yeah, that's so fascinating. And I think it's important for everyone. You know, there's founders and executives that listen to this show. And I think it's just the things that you're saying. Anyone who's sitting in a chair right now that has any experience at all, this should be resonating. You should be thinking through what Nick is saying. You know, I wanted to ask you a question about. So now that you're on Clutch and you've raised probably an undisclosed round, we don't need to get into that. But it's just the two of you right now. Or do you have a team or can you talk about team formation and milestones a little bit?
[00:34:18] Yeah. So part of what makes. I'm talking about my seven, and it makes me a little uncomfortable, but somebody else must some thought. Part of the attractiveness of what we're doing is it's the same founders. They know the space really well. They'll probably tap into networks of other people they've worked for before, work for a week before. And so right now it's the two of us. We have a little content team that creates content to run auto refinance because there's, you know, people jury of the population doesn't know you can refund car are there still are millions such as the month around it. And so that should be low hanging fruit to harvest. So we have the two founders, the content team, many contractors that now we're starting to build the team, fill in executives like BP, engineering partnerships. And so that's what we're starting to kick off right now. But Blake remembers eight weeks ago over silico.
[00:35:11] Yeah. Yeah. No, that's so fascinating. Well, Nick, I know we're getting short on your time. We've got a couple of minutes left. And I always like to ask this last question. If you had to give one or two pieces of advice to executives or entrepreneurs that are listening right now, just given your personal experiences and professional experiences, what would it be?
[00:35:32] I think two things come to mind. I already said at the most important things to get started. You can't try to think through problems, otherwise you can talk yourself out of doing them. So I always get started, throw things up a wall, something will stick. Double down. Savor surprises, number one. Number two is be very, very, very frugal because oftentimes when you see it over and over again, it's not a question of how quickly do you find something that works. There often it's a question of did you survive long enough? And so these start ups, you said yourself, these start ups take 10 years to build. They're not built in three years. Every company that successfully look at it and you're like that looks like an overnight success. They're all 10 years in the making. And so you just need to know that.
[00:36:15] Yeah. You know, I tell people a long time and this is true with entrepreneurs, startups marketing a lot of different things. I tell people I don't know if you've ever been to Vegas. I'm not much of a gambler. But if you're going to go play craps or you're going to go play, you know, whatever, you're going to go play. If you walk up to that table with like 50 bucks and you're like, I'm going to play, you're going to be gone in two minutes. Right. But if you walked it up to that table, it's like 400 bucks. You might last all night. Right now, you might lose 400 bucks, but at the same time, you also might win two thousand. Right. So I always caution people. I'm like, look, don't even go to the table if you're not ready to go to the table and sit there a long time. That doesn't mean you can't play the penny slots. Like if you have any thoughts, like, you can do that. Right. But you've just got to stay. Just hang in there long enough to make something work. We don't know what it is yet. I agree. We'll make it work. Well, everyone. Nick Hinrichsen, CEO of Clutch, newly launched technology platform created to help Americans save thousands of dollars on car payments. With just a few clicks. Nick, I'm so glad you came on the show today. Thanks for sharing with us. And best of luck.
[00:37:32] Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me. Absolutely.