At 26, Yossi Levi has spent half his life in auto sales. Jake Levin, also 26, helped launch Philadelphia’s goPuff, the app-based home-delivery service for snacks and other convenience store items currently operating in at least 31 states.
Then came the idea that buying a used car should be as easy as purchasing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from goPuff.
So the friends-since-childhood founded Gettacar, an online used car-buying platform, joining a growing field of start-ups that see business potential in eliminating the misery that consumers often describe about car shopping at traditional dealerships.
“It’s much easier and it saves a lot of time, and if done right it can be frictionless,” Levi said of buying a car online — more commonly a marketplace for clothing, health and beauty products, and home goods.
A graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Levi was president of his family’s used-car business in Northeast Philadelphia, Danis Auto, one of the biggest independent automobile dealers in the city. About a year and a half ago, he came to a conclusion while sitting in the showroom.
“There has to be a better way to help people buy cars. It’s so inefficient. It’s antiquated," he recalled. "What if we create a frictionless way, completely online, to help people save time and in a direct-to-consumer model, allow people to buy a car?”
He reached out to Levin, who majored in marketing and finance at Lehigh University and, during that time, “I loved the idea of marketing and being able to portray a message to people and get them to get excited about something.”
Even before he graduated, Levin went to work to help gin up enthusiasm for goPuff, which was in its infancy, cofounded by a friend from high school, Yakir Gola. By the time Levin left in November 2017, goPuff was serving more than 25 markets.
“It was a crazy ride,” Levin said.
And then came Levi with another enticing one, Gettacar. From a headquarters in Bensalem, they launched the company last August, entering a space not entirely their own.
Six years earlier, Phoenix-based Carvana set out to disrupt the auto sales market with its online car-buying and financing platform, “as-soon-as-next day” delivery service and, for buyers who wanted to pick up their wheels themselves, nine-story glass car-vending machines. Two of its 17 machines are in Pennsylvania – in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
That did not scare Levi, Gettacar’s CEO, and Levin, director of marketing, who were focused on a huge number – an estimated $750 billion used-car market – and the popularity of e-commerce, which grew 15 percent last year, according to Digital Commerce 360.
“What really struck me is how fragmented it was,” Levin said of the auto sales market. “When you’re building a brand and becoming something that people trust, there’s so much room there.”
Gettacar’s target demographic is “the everyday consumer that wants a late-model, low-mileage, reliable car at a great price," Levi said. “We have cars for everyone, whether someone wants one that has a clean history report and is priced to market, or maybe prefers a less expensive one that has been through a minor fender bender in the past but has been repaired.”
With a 75,000-square-foot reconditioning center in Northeast Philadelphia, and a technology office of 15 engineers in Israel, Gettacar merged with Danis Auto in December to, in part, enhance its car inventory. Gettacar also takes trade-ins and offers financing. The vehicles it sells are bought, serviced, photographed, and advertised in-house, enabling the company of 75 employees “to cut out all the middlemen,” Levi said. “We’re not the most expensive and we’re not going to be the cheapest. We’re very fair."
He would not disclose revenues or total vehicle sales, saying only that Gettacar has sold “at least 500” cars since the beginning of the year.
They are typically no more than five years old with less than 35,000 miles, with the original power train warranty still in effect. A seven-day return policy lets any unsatisfied customer get out of a deal for free. Gettacar will even come get the vehicle. Less than 2 percent of customers have taken advantage of that policy, Levi said.
He would not disclose how much money was raised in a Seed A funding round last year. Among the investors is San Francisco-based e.ventures.
“We’ve been involved in category-creating e-commerce like Farfetch, Shipt, and the RealReal, and recognized that Gettacar was one of these companies that could really redefine the way people pursue used cars,” said Jett Fein, who leads the firm’s early-stage investments.
Fein, 32, described the car-buying process as “completely broken. It’s opaque, it’s filled with friction at almost every point," and said the boom of e-commerce has demonstrated that consumers expect convenience and transparency.
While acknowledging Carvana as Gettacar’s online competitor, Fein said the used-car market overall is “massively fragmented.”
“We feel there’s a huge opportunity to build another consumer brand in the space,” he said.
Gettacar delivered a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse to Kimberly Golden, 25, a mother of three with a day job in home health care and night work at an Amazon warehouse, at her home in Olney in March. It was a day after she saw an ad for the online dealership on the back of a SEPTA bus – and just about the time insurance coverage was to expire on a rental she was driving since her 2015 Dodge Journey was totaled on I-76.
“I did it right on my phone,” Golden said of the buying process. “The experience is amazing. Being in a car dealership with three kids wasn’t going to work.”