I was nine when I moved to Australia from Iran with my family and I spent my formative years at Indooroopilly State High and the University of Queensland. I studied Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences at UQ and by the time I was 21, I had started 17 business ventures utilising the Internet. I was really trying to work out what I wanted to do and I needed a job that I was passionate about. As a young man, I was never going to be content with the usual 9-to-5 grind.
It took a while but in 2006, I realised there was a common problem across the Australian automotive industry – it was lacking a definitive, reliable and engaging online source of information on vehicle makes and models. There just wasn’t a place where people could do to get non-biased information regarding their new cars.
In a new era of online information and consumers were starting to research vehicles online. People were, and still are, time poor and don’t want to have to travel to a dealership to find information about vehicles. So, I entered the industry with out any qualifications and invested $35 in the domain CarAdvice.com, cars had always been an integral part of me and I realised that there was a gap in the market that could be expanded on.
Lessons from my own start-up experience
The idea behind the website was to connect the right new buyer with the right car. I came to realise that one must work hard to solve a common problem in the simplest way – so we turned the automotive industry upside down. We shifted the power base of information from the manufacturers to the consumers and for the first time, people were able to make informed decisions about their vehicles.
In 2006, our competitors had yet to grasp the concept of online media as the newest platform for reaching the public – unlike magazines and journals which could take weeks to publish car reviews – we made our reviews available within 24 hours. This quickly set CarAdvice up to become one of the most trusted sources of online new vehicle information in the country. I solved the common problem and we are now the leaders in automotive video production as well as user engagement on both the website and social media. We are also the largest editorial website in Australia for the automotive market.
Though I started the business in no way did I do it on my own – once it was up and running – I had to to move quickly to involve people with the necessary skills and understanding of where the company was going. Every single staff member is the best at what they do and has an ingrained love of cars, this is a vital component of our competitive edge in the market.
In September of 2016 the majority stake in CarAdvice was sold to the Nine Entertainment Company for $35 million. I will stay on for the next three years as Content Manager and Brand Ambassador before the whole business is sold by 2019.
My advice to any budding entrepreneurs out there, would be to do what you love and try to find a niche. I didn’t start CarAdvice for the financial gains, I loved cars and wanted to help people make informed decisions. By creating a website which provided people with free and reliable information about new cars – my aim was to provide the sort of information that I would have wanted when researching potential new cars. It has always been a business made up of people with a similar love of cars, who wanted to share their opinions with others.
In my experience, Australia remains to be a great land of opportunity for those that are willing to put in the effort to first – find a common problem and second – solve it well.
Alborz Fallah is the founder of CarAdvice.com.