CarThrottle, which perhaps can be best described as a ‘BuzzFeed for cars’, is continuing to step on the gas. Founded 5 years ago by Adnan Ebrahim, now aged 23, while he was a student at the UK’s UCL, the car enthusiasts site and producer of original video content has recently ditched its online video distributor (or Multi-Channel Network) and signed directly with YouTube. That makes it a member of a select few who partner directly with the Google-owned video site as part of its program to package premium YouTube channels and sell them to major advertisers — a sign of future growth for this feisty UK startup.
The company is also sharing some updated metrics with TechCrunch. The CarThrottle site itself is seeing close to 2 million uniques per month and has more than 90k YouTube subscribers. I’m also told that this week brought in their highest traffic day to date, specifically 225k uniques. Noteworthy is that more than 60% of its audience/traffic is from the U.S.
Meanwhile, very relevant for a content site built on the BuzzFeed model, CarThrottle is talking up its social media reach beyond YouTube, citing over 1 million ‘Likes’ on Facebook, with engagement it says trounces the BBC’s flagship car property Top Gear by a factor of three. In fact, in some ways CarThrottle is the antithesis of the BBC show: young, fresh, online-first and social media savvy.
The site produces 4 original videos per week to satisfy its younger car enthusiast audience. Playlists consist of themes such as “Car Trivia”, “Readers’ Rides”, and “2 Guys 1 Car”. CarThrottle also acquired Bristol-based Car Memes as part of its strategy to consolidate social content for auto enthusiasts.
‘More media than tech’ you might say, somewhat fairly. And to a large extent that’s true. However, CarThrottle is currently developing the personalisation side of its offering. The startup is building a custom CMS and platform aimed at personalising content consumption for car fans so that it will be able to target BMW content to readers it knows are BMW or Audi fans, and so on.
To that end, the company has raised £400k in funding to date, across two rounds in 2012 and late last year. The first money was tiny and came from Passion Capital simply as a way of moving Ebrahim out of his home office digs and to give CarThrottle a go — the type of behind the scenes bet not uncommon for Passion.
Subsequent strategic investors, along with Passion Capital, include James Bromley (former MD Mail Online), Peter Read (former President of Nielsen Entertainment and investor in CityMapper, Eye’em, Justgiving, MindCandy, Readmill, Songkick, Yplan and others), and Shan Drummond and Ned Cranbourne (partners at Samos Investments but whom invested in a personal capacity).