A Birmingham startup is looking to transform the car industry after raising £1 million.

CarCloud, which hit the investment milestone this summer via follow-on funding, is a digital platform revolutionising the way consumers manage their cars.

Founded by former Porsche MD Geoff Turral and automotive entrepreneur Paul Jewell, the smartphone, tablet and desktop app has attracted 36,000 active users – with 44,000 cars registered – in just six months.

It says this equates to more than £500m worth of vehicles under digital management. 

“Our customers have been telling us, as they come through the pandemic period, that they expect to use their cars less in the future but value them more,” Turral tells BusinessCloud. “Too often we hear that car owners feel like they’re being ‘processed’ according to the sector model’s needs, rather than anything approaching theirs.

“The huge opportunity is in understanding enhanced data – basically, how car and driver data develops over time. To do this effectively takes a mindset shift from the traditional well-trodden path of ‘owning the customer’ and ‘customer for life’ approaches. 

“Nobody ‘owns’ customers anymore – in any sector – and building CRM and marketing systems around this outdated concept ends up ultimately driving them away.”

Geoff Turral, CarCloud

Jewell’s long experience in managing, founding and selling dealerships taught him that identifying the right finance for customers was a key enabler. The idea for CarCloud percolated in his mind before he launched the business with Turral (pictured above) in 2018.

Turral read engineering at Loughborough University before holding a broad mix of commercial roles at Vauxhall and Toyota. He went on to join Porsche GB as marketing director before promotion to the CEO position. 

CarCloud enables users to programme vehicle reminders and store important documents in the cloud, reducing the risk of not having an MOT and eliminating unnecessary filing. The platform can also be used to check the value of vehicles, with 18,000 searches undertaken in June alone, renegotiate finance payments and search for the best available insurance premiums.

“Over the years the cars got pricier and the dealerships looked sharper, but the customer experience hadn’t really changed with the times,” says Turral. “Porsche customers are early adopters of almost everything, including technology, and they were starting to ask me why they couldn’t manage their cars digitally as they could do with every other costly aspect of their lives. 

“It’s a question I’ve been fired up to find an answer to for a good few years now.”

‘I cashed in my chips as a croupier to become a software engineer’

He adds: “Despite the everyday cost of living challenges for the vast majority of car owners, they are still thinking about ‘what next?’ As work becomes more flexible and less secure, and as extended family dynamics become more fluid, people want the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances by changing their car, without excessive costs or the feeling of being trapped.

“The move to EVs is accelerating the complexity around ‘what next?’, as, for most, it is no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’.”

It is predicted that the company’s user base will exceed 150,000 by the end of the year, with the platform shortly set to enter the business-to-business marketplace. It is aiming for 2.35m users – 1.9m retail and 450,000 B2B – by the end of 2026.

“We’ve built the business from the ground up to a team of 20, with plans to further expand – by possibly half again – over the next 12 months,” says Turral of a business which operates a four-day week model.

“We’ve calculated our user targets based on our initial pilot launch, understanding actual performance for user growth and acquisition cost. We’re currently tracking well ahead of plan.”

CarCloud app is available to download through the App Store and Google Play.

“We’re increasing CarCloud’s capacity to support users with their second highest monthly spend, by taking car industry data and sharing it in a way that is understandable and actionable,” says Turral. 

“This includes offering insight into future monthly ownership costs, future value forecasting and understanding the equity in your car as the key driver to enable you to update/upgrade. 

“We’re developing a ‘Powered by CarCloud’ platform for third party media partners, to enable them to provide valuable content to their audiences.”

Modern Milkman co-founder launches window cleaning app after ‘six figure’ investment