Amy McKechnie is Co-founder and Director of Product & Marketing at Carmoola. We caught up with this inspirational founder recently to learn about her exciting entrepreneurial journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Carmoola is a newly launched car financing app that is encouraging drivers to rethink the way they pay for a second hand car – understanding what they can afford first, before beginning their search.
The new service empowers consumers with a budget and finance decision in sixty seconds, giving them the freedom to buy a vehicle instantly with a virtual card online or at car dealerships.
Cutting out the middleman, saving buyers money with better value finance, the platform also breaks the rigidity of traditional contracts, allowing motorists the flexibility to adjust terms and payments simply in-app.
I started my first business while I was still in education. I was passionate about dance and performing arts, so spent all my free time and energy outside of school training towards a career in dance. In 2008, I saw an opportunity and opened Attitude Dancewear, Cambridge’s only dance supplier and it was a successful operation which we sold later on.
I then went on to attend University of the Arts London where I graduated with a BA in Theatre Dance, later working as a children’s dance teacher and choreographer for children’s West End theatre shows.
In 2014, I founded my second business, My Princess Party, providing themed entertainers in the lucrative market of children’s parties. The same year, I met Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla, who offered me the role of Marketing and Events Coordinator, running corporate hospitality for the property company.
Two years later, I took up the role of Product Owner at Movebubble, where I met co-founder and CEO of Carmoola, Aidan Rushby. Now at Carmoola, I am looking after product, marketing and operations, which are three quite large areas, all closely connected to our customers.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
During the first half of 2020, and we all know what happened then, Aidan, (Carmoola’s co-founder) and I decided to take an extended break in Mallorca. As we planned to stay for a couple of months, and with the pandemic in full swing, it made sense for us to drive from the UK and catch the ferry from mainland Spain to the island, so we could take our two sausage dogs along.
What should have been a simple process of upgrading our car turned out to be a slow and confusing consumer experience. With all the tech innovation available to consumers in banking and buy now pay later, we questioned why car finance has remained unchanged and complicated for so long.
We quickly identified the main problems: the administration was slow and filled with paperwork, consumers didn’t have a clue about the amount they could borrow, and interest rates were expensive. Traditional lenders weren’t tech driven, account management and underwriting were done manually, and these inefficient processes and unnecessary costs were clearly being passed on to the consumer.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
All of the co-founders put money in at the beginning, from day 1. We then also raised a pre seed round from angel investors, who were interested in supporting the business through the early stages.
However, we were keen to keep it lean until we had proved the concept and proved that people were interested in what we wanted to build and that we were confident the market was ready for it.
What are the key successes?
We’re delighted with the customer feedback so far. Our customers go out of their way to let us know how happy they are with the product and the service we’re providing, and you can see this coming through on Trustpilot. We’re happy if they’re happy!
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
When you launch a new business there is always so much to learn in the early days, and with limited resources it’s so important to prioritise the right things. The team is super passionate about delivering WOW to our customers, and so it’s a constant process of re-prioritisation and focussing on excellence in execution.
What are your plans now/for the future?
I’m excited to see how far we can take Carmoola over the next few years, and I’m 100% focussed on the business. Right now we’re launching a new refinancing product to help customers who already have car finance, switch to Carmoola and save money with a much better deal. Looking further ahead we’re hoping to offer discounts on electric vehicle finance too!
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
The biggest lesson for me is the people and the team and getting that right is the most important part. As the wrong people, or people who are not confident in what they are doing, can have a massive impact on the business.
In our previous business we may have hired more junior people in order to save costs, and this was our main focus, but this really does not work in an early stage business, as you really need people who are confident, and capable of knowing how to take the next steps forward, rather than focusing on the cost saving element of it, which I think is a big lesson for me.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Website – www.carmoola.co.uk
Instagram – @carmoolaapp
Facebook – @carmoola
LinkedIn – @carmoola
YouTube – @carmoola
TikTok – @carmoola.app
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