When Alex Cruder’s mom asked for a hand buying a used car, he hoped for an easier way to navigate choosing a reliable vehicle, working out all the costs, and negotiating a good deal. How do you know if a car has been in an accident or not? What are the hidden costs? Teaming up with his friend Brent Gudelot, the duo mapped out their vision to make the used car buying experience better and ultimately created Curbie.
“Car sales is one of the areas where the method hasn’t changed,” Brent Gudelot explains. “You can look at car sales from a hundred years ago and the process is still the same.”
Curbie is the first fully-licensed online vehicle retailer in Canada. Through their website, they buy and sell high-quality used vehicles, stocking only those that have never been in a major accident and which have passed their 240-point inspection.
They have challenged the entire used car buying experience. “We want our customers to be in control of the car buying experience,”,” explains Gudelot. “We make it easy. The price you see on our website is the price you get. There are no fees, and every vehicle also comes with the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty as well as our own three-month Curbie warranty. You have seven days after purchasing to test-own the vehicle, and if you’re not happy, we’ll pick it up and take it back.”
Because valuing and re-valuing vehicles is so time-consuming, Curbie has automated their industry leading pricing algorithm, which allows them to take dynamic variables into account, scale as they grow, and offer lower prices and high-quality service. The algorithm is working extremely well, considering it’s landed Curbie a Sabex award for “Best New Business Venture” and AutoTRADER's "Best Priced Dealer” year after year.
Although the COVID-19 environment wasn’t helpful to all businesses, Curbie experienced a 127% jump from Q1 of last year to this year, as customers looked to an online alternative.
With their successful approach, their team has grown to 35 employees. Officially announced in May 2021, Curbie closed on a $7M seed round, led by Conexus Venture Capital Ltd., with participation from SaskWorks and Broad Street Bulls. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have found the best investment funds on the prairies to work with,” Cruder shares. “The new funding will enable us to grow our business 3-5x.”
Continuing the momentum, the beginning of June 2021 had $800,000 coming to Curbie through Canada’s regional development agencies (RDA) funding, supported by the Western Economic Diversification Canada Business Scale-up and Productivity program. Created as part of the federal government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, RDAs exist to support businesses and innovators in their growth. With this federal funding, Curbie will be further expanding the functionality and markets of their platform.
“We’ll be reinforcing our presence in all markets, scaling up across our existing footprint,” Cruder explains. "We're growing our operations in Saskatchewan, building up in Alberta and Manitoba, and moving into new markets in the near future.” Down the line, the Curbie Team plans to finish expansion across western Canada and aims to be a national brand.
Curbie was an original member of Co.Labs. Innovation Saskatchewan helped establish Co.Labs as the province’s first technology incubator, and continues to support the organization with funding, Board-level support, and through various events and initiatives. Women in Tech nights, Co.mmunity nights, Co.Launch Finales, Uniting the Prairies, and other initiatives continue to highlight the amazing tech sector in Saskatchewan.
The team is also eligible for the Saskatchewan Technology Startup Incentive, a program designed to encourage investment in early-stage technology startups that bring new products to market and create jobs in Saskatchewan. The program offers a non-refundable 45% tax credit to Saskatchewan-based investors who invest in Eligible Technology Startup Businesses.
Throughout the expansion of Curbie, it’s clear that Cruder and Gudelot plan to continue growing. The duo has appreciated receiving government support from groups such as IRAP and Western Economic Diversification, which has helped them grow within our tech sector. “You don’t have to go far to get in contact with who you need to talk to,” Cruder says. “Saskatchewan is a nurturing place to be. It takes a village to raise a company, and we’ve been so grateful for our community rallying around us and helping us get something that will benefit all Canadians.”
Founders: Alex Cruder and Brent Gudelot
Incorporation Date: Jan 2017