This spring, Saskatchewan-based online vehicle retail startup Curbie announced the successful closure of their $7 million seed funding round. The funding, the largest seed round in Saskatchewan tech history, was led by Conexus Venture Capital Ltd., with participation from SaskWorks and Broad Street Bulls.
Curbie offers Canadians a better way to buy a car by removing dealerships and haggling from the purchase experience and instead offering a web-based platform with carefully selected pre-owned vehicles. Curbie’s increased funding will support further growth and expansion across the prairies, with operations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Alex Cruder and Brent Gudelot founded Curbie in 2017 with a mission of improving the vehicle buying experience. In a sector with low perceived trustworthiness – only 8% of consumers rate car salespeople as “highly trustworthy” – and high consumer research before visiting a dealership, the pair saw an industry ripe for disruption.
“The experience of buying a car felt archaic,” said Cruder, thinking back to before Curbie was founded. “We’ve seen so many industries disrupted for the better by removing the salesperson and empowering the customer to shop in their own way, on their own time. It makes sense vehicles are the next frontier.”
Instead of the traditional dealership approach to buying a car, Curbie offers a web-based platform that lists thoroughly inspected pre-owned vehicles. Vehicles are priced using machine-learning technology that considers each car’s features along with market prices to provide a fair price up front, no negotiation required. And once the vehicle is delivered directly to the buyer’s door, a 7-day test-own period allows the buyer to send it back for a full refund, providing a zero risk experience.
In 2018, Curbie took part in SREDA’s Tech Trip, where they travelled alongside several other Saskatoon Region startups to San Francisco. There, they had the opportunity to showcase their tech to prospective investors and network with mentors and tech experts. They were also able to collaborate, gain insight and learn from other winners of The Tech Trip. Ultimately, Curbie’s participation in The Tech Trip put them on the radar of several venture capital firms in the United States and helped raise awareness of the startup, supporting them as they reached their current phase of growth.
Are you a local startup looking to connect with the heart of tech?
SREDA’s The Tech Trip, an entrepreneurship and business expansion program for local tech companies, will open to applications again in 2022. Through this program, SREDA provides financial support to local tech companies to join representatives from SREDA and Co.Labs in San Francisco.
During the stay, winners will meet with high-impact investors and mentors who can help take their startups to the next level and scale. The Tech Trip winners will be able to build their networks in the heart of tech development – San Francisco.