This week I achieved my 3rd equity buy-out of a company I started in 2016, called VINwiki.
VINwiki is the worlds largest free database of cars with over 9B data points and hundreds of millions of cars. The app has grown steadily at ~300 users/day with an average of 30,000 active users per month. We have a YouTube channel almost 2M subscribers growing by ~1200 subs/day.
The Best Ideas Stem from Personal Need
In 2016, Ed Bolian and myself were struggling with the fact that car databases today are terrible. Carfax, Edmunds, and other vehicle history systems are outdated, slow, and full of data that doesn’t matter to the average car owner. We sought out to build a system that allows users to update their vehicle history with a hypothesis that user-generated vehicle history would increase the value of a re-sale by $500-$2000 more. This is due to the fact that the vehicle owner has taken personal responsibility to update their vehicle history throughout the lifetime of ownership. As exotic car owners, we were not only solving our own issues of ensuring there was better data for trades, but we found that lots of other car enthusiasts wanted this app as well!
From Idea to MVP in 6 Months
Leveraging Agile and Scrum, we were able to knock out our first MVP in 6 months and had an official launch party with hundreds of car lovers from around the world.
In this time, we built out our VINwiki studio and garage so that we could begin inviting in car enthusiasts to tell their stories about the cars they love.
Meeting together to pair program, establish shared understanding, and executing quickly is at the heart of our success. These are all things that I’ve taught thousands of students over a decade as a Certified Scrum Trainer, few get to actually put all of it into practice. Even worse, most ‘consultants,’ ‘trainers,’ and ‘agile coaches’ never have, themselves, put their theories into practice. It’s easy to tell an organization how to build software, it’s harder to build your own company using Agile and live what you preach.
From 6 Months to 7 Years – By the Numbers
Over the last 6.5 years since our MVP launch, we have gone have gone to hundreds of car shows collectively as a team pounding pavement, getting the word out, and building our app incrementally with community feedback.
Our growth is certainly a function of perseverance over time:
- Over 500,000 active users of our app
- Over 7,000,000 user posts
- Over 200,000,000 cars in our database
- Over 9,800,000,000 data points
- Over 1,900,000 YouTube subscribers
- Over 2100 videos with over 700,000,000 views worldwide
- Over ~2,000,000,000 views collectively through all socials
- Average of ~300 new users per day
- Average of ~1200 new subscribers per day
VINwiki has grown steadily and securely as a function of our efforts over time. We received no hockey-stick growth, but our relatively linear growth has provided us ample opportunities to attract investors, network partners, and experiences that will last a lifetime.
What’s After VINwiki?
VINwiki was born during a time when I was getting all hot and heavy into the Bitcoin and digital currency world. I’ve always wanted to marry my love of Web3, cars, and community into something I could build. While VINwiki is close, we chose to keep VINwiki as a web2 application for it’s ease-of-use, intuitive design, and expected user experiences so that any car enthusiast could increase the value of their car by updating their vehicle history easily.
- My love of Bitcoin and Web3 still remains.
- My love of cars and racing is in the blood.
- My desire to solve problems for the automotive and motorsport world has grown.
To this end, I’ve been noodling on ways to marry these interests, and with 3 full seasons of racing behind me, I have all the information and data to know exactly what I need to build next. My exit out of an equity position in VINwiki just makes sense as it allows full freedom to move about the cabin, build unfettered, and focus 110%.
Automotive Platform for the Web3 World?
7 years ago, I called on my entire network to help me build VINwiki. Since then, I haven’t reached out to my entire network to help me build something. Yes, I’ve built several other startups (1 acquired, 2 early-exits), but these were deep in the digital currency space, and I never asked my network to engage in something so bleeding-edge and (from a perception standpoint), immature and unknown. To this day there are still die-hard critics of Bitcoin and application development on top of the digital currency industry. While I believe critics of digital currency has jumped the shark, I wouldn’t want to pressure anyone into supporting an industry they don’t understand.
Cars though? We all understand cars.
Do cars cost money? Would it be great to save on car maintenance, services, or even upgrades to your car? – The answer to this question is clearly yes.
VINwiki was built for the automotive enthusiast. Could a platform be built for more than just the automotive enthusiast? Could a car platform be built that is exclusively Web3 and is easy-to-use for the average Joe-car-owner all the way to car enthusiast, racecar driver, and supporting trillion-dollar industry?
The answer to this question is absolutely, and I’m building it now.
I’ll need your help to do it. Would you be willing in the near future? – I hope so. Stay tuned and keep the pedal down. I shall call on thee. 🙂
All the best,