There are lots of apps that help you research prices for buying or selling a car, and they’ll even hook you up with a dealership when you’re ready to buy. But Beepi lets you buy and sell used cars in 16 metro areas in nine states without using a dealership — or a test drive — at all.
“Every company starts with a group of entrepreneurs who think something is true but it disagrees with what everyone else thinks,” said Beepi founder Alejandro Resnik in a phone interview. “My belief was that there was this whole infrastructure of cars sitting on lots for one reason: to do a test drive.” He found that while most people would not buy a used car without a test drive, they warmed up to the idea if the car was inspected, came with a money-back guarantee and was from a brand they trusted. “That was the initial light bulb,” Resnik said.
So how do you buy a car with an app but without testing it? “The same way you buy anything online,” Resnik said. You find a car you like at a price that works for your budget and buy it. A Beepi representative goes to the seller, gives her the money and delivers the car to you. Then you get what Beepi calls a 10-day test drive. If the car doesn’t work out for you, you get your money back.
Each car goes through a 240-point inspection by professional, trained Beepi representatives who are both shareholders in the company and employees. They’re certified mechanics to begin with, and they undergo an additional three months of Beepi-specific training. When you want to sell your car through Beepi, an inspector will visit to check everything. They use a camera to look under the chassis, they take 200 pictures and they do a dynamic test drive to listen for weird noises, test normal braking and acceleration, and check the alignment. It’s a test drive done the way a pro would do it, Resnik said, rather than a consumer just trying to understand the noises they hear.
He should know — he took a test drive of a used vehicle that burst into flames two days after he drove it home. When he was on the car lot, Resnik said, “I spoke with the dealer; he was a nice guy. I did a test drive. I thought I knew about machines. The engine looked amazing, the suspension looked amazing, the brakes looked amazing.” In trying to get his money back (and eventually succeeding), Resnik learned a lot about consumer protection laws and the process of buying and selling cars.
He also counts himself as an older millennial, a generation that’s used to showrooming and cross-shopping online. “Car buying and selling starts online, using KBB.com or Edmunds or AutoTrader,” Resnik said, “but when you get to the interesting part, you need to close your computer.” It also eliminates the ick factor of meeting strangers via Craigslist or dealing with used car salesmen. “Dealerships remain a scary place for women and minorities,” Resnik said. “Beepi is enabling a market that was hidden because those people were not transacting. This way, the market becomes larger and more connected.”
Part of expanding the market is offering a streamlined financing process. Beepi has partnered with Chase and credit unions to offer traditional financing and, as of this morning, Ally Financial to offer leasing. You can even pay for the entire car with a credit card or Bitcoin.
With Beepi, “there’s no break between online research and online buying,” said Resnik. “You start the process online and finish online. That gives us the advantage.”