Consumers love price comparison marketplaces. Example niches include airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and shipping carriers. Chaiz, a startup, aims to achieve the same success with extended automotive warranties.
Ryan Hartman is Chaiz’s chief marketing officer. He told me, “Our mission is to provide auto-repair protection that doesn’t break the bank.”
He and I recently discussed the need for lower-priced warranties, the challenges of reaching consumers, raising capital, and more. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: Tell us about Chaiz.
Ryan Hartman: Chaiz is the first online comparison marketplace for automotive repair warranties. The company launched about a year ago. I joined shortly after as chief marketing officer. I’m one of three co-founders, plus we have an angel investor.
Before Chaiz I was head of growth for The Zebra, a leading insurance comparison marketplace.
Our mission is to provide auto-repair protection that doesn’t break the bank. Most people know about CarShield. It spends about $170 million on advertising annually — $160 million on TV alone. CarShield is a call center, a middleman. They sell insurance through a company called American Auto Shield that underwrites it, and CarShield marks it up.
Our model is direct relationships with multiple providers and passing the savings to the consumer.
Our long-term plan is to work through dealerships. They make most of their money on finance and insurance and net only about $500 on the vehicle itself. Unfortunately, they see us as a threat. But more folks are buying cars online now. We see an opportunity with the Carvanas of the world for a white-label solution with us.
We offer service for about 90% of U.S. vehicles on the road. The only limitation is California with restrictive insurance laws. So we don’t operate in that state.
Bandholz: How are you getting in front of prospects?
Hartman: Most of what we’re doing now is search engine optimization. We’ve made good strides. We write articles to educate consumers about what an extended warranty covers and what could go wrong on a road trip. We explain the difference between normal car insurance and repair protection.
Sixty percent of Americans can’t afford a breakdown that’s over $1,000. So our product is worthwhile. But the industry’s history is shady deals and a lack of transparency. So we have a lot of explaining to do.
We are trying to raise about $1 million in new equity. But it’s a tough market now on the venture capital front. We’re going after smaller investment firms that focus on seed and pre-seed. We’re hearing very positive feedback.
Bandholz: How do you pull in investors?
Hartman: It would be easier if our revenue was growing — $10,000 one month, $20,000 the next. We’d have money in the bank.
Still, we’ve got a good story because we’ve got eight providers on the site right now, including three of the top five. We signed a deal with Endurance, the second-largest direct-to-consumer warranty provider. We just signed Olive.com, and Protect My Car will launch soon. Investors want to see buy-in from the providers.
Bandholz: Where can people learn more about Chaiz and reach out to you?
Hartman: I’m on LinkedIn. Our site is Chaiz.com.