[Editor's note: GeekWire is running a series of profiles on the startups participating in this year's class in the TechStars Seattle incubator program. Check back each day at 1:30 p.m. for a new profile, leading up to Demo Day on Nov. 1]
Grant Feek spent high school and college summers working at BMW dealerships in sales, parts and servicing. He’s still in the auto industry, but now in a completely different sphere.
Feek is the CEO of Tred, a Seattle startup that allows shoppers to test drive and buy cars right from their driveways.
Here’s how it works: Tred delivers cars through concierges whose pay is not based on sales commission, but rather determined by customer service reviews. The idea is to remove the sales pressure from the customer. Shoppers can customize cars online using feedback from buyers and connect with local dealers to bring a potential new vehicle to their driveway.
“Nobody is doing what we’re doing,” says Feek.
One notable investor is Rick Wagoner, the former CEO and Chairman at General Motors who was ousted by the federal government in 2009.
Here are some of insights about the new business in this installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We deliver new cars for test drive to your driveway.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Three weeks ago when Andy Sack asked us, “So you guys can deliver the new cars – can you also deliver them for test drive?”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Customer service, customer service, and customer service. Our mission is to make new car shopping as fun as new car driving.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Getting Rick Wagoner (former Chairman and CEO of General Motors) and Andy Sack (TechStars Seattle Director) invested.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Focusing too many technical resources on a “configurator” feature that we ended up scrapping.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “All great: Bezos for vision; Jobs for product; Gates / Zuckerberg for tenacity (and fashion sense).”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Most mornings it ends when I wake up.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We aim to help dealers as well as shoppers – not a lot of third parties in the automotive space do. In fact, we’re hand-picking the best new car dealers in the country, and we want to help them bring customer service to a whole new level.”
We are truly unique because: “Nobody is doing what we’re doing.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Above all, be resilient, because you’re going to get knocked down a lot. Watch Rocky VI for inspiration, particularly the scene in which Rock lectures his son streetside – it sums up the will of an entrepreneur.”
What is the most important thing you learned at TechStars? “Talk to customers, talk to customers, talk to customers. Customer development takes priority over everything else we do.”
What was your most memorable moment in TechStars? “The day I realized my elevator pitch had gone from a seven out of 10, to a four, to a two (equivalent to a pile of excrement). Now we have our momentum moving in the right direction, and it feels great.”