From dorm room to online publishing domination. Not quite. But the story of Car Throttle, founded almost 6 years ago by Adnan Ebrahim whilst studying at university, continues to gain momentum. The UK startup, which we previously dubbed the ‘BuzzFeed for cars’, has picked up $1.6 million in new funding, and with it plans to evolve into a ‘vertical media platform’.
This, Ebrahim tells me, will include eventually moving beyond the niche of cars (or “petrolheads”, as he likes to call it), by applying its editorial model and tech to other verticals. He won’t say, however, what those verticals will be, claiming to not yet know himself.
However, the long-term plan is definitely to build something a heck of a lot more scalable than a car “blog” alone, albeit one that punches above its weight, claiming 4 million unique visitors per month, 2.5 million Facebook fans and 300,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“How do you move beyond 4 million uniques?” is the question that Ebrahim and his team asked themselves, no doubt in discussion with Car Throttle’s VC backers. The answer they have come up with is two-fold.
In the short-term, the aim is to consolidate what they’ve achieved with the automotive vertical, specifically by harnessing the site’s existing community and placing a much greater emphasis on user-generated content. This includes letting anybody post bite-sized content to CarThrottle, subject to moderation, such as car-related memes, links, photos, and so on.
The idea is to unashamededly boost the amount of new user-generated content that gets published each day — currently sitting at roughly 500 user posts and 2,000 comments — and place this directly next to the editorial content that the site first became known for, organised around 20 or so topics accessible via the home page.
In that way, says Ebrahim, Car Throttle becomes a platform, not simply a top-down publisher, something I likened to blending Reddit’s model of sub-topics with a more traditional niche publication.
Then, once Car Throttle’s platform and underlying content model is perfected, the London-based company wants to take it to other verticals.
In other words, the startup now sees itself as both a technology and media company, harvesting content generated by users and mixing it with editorial in a single news feed, and in a way that is ripe for native advertising — as any modern online media company should, argues Ebrahim, a move that echoes other online publishers who are investing as much in the platform as they are in editorial.
To that end, Car Throttle’s new investors are noteworthy, too. They include Redalpine, who led the round, alongside existing investor Passion Capital and Facebook’s VP of Global Partnerships and first international employee Blake Chandlee.