SpinCar is the world’s leading provider of digital automotive merchandising tools, with more than 140 million virtual Walkarounds experienced by car buyers across 14 countries since 2014.
In this exclusive interview with Automotive Dealer, the CEO and Co-Founder of SpinCar reveals why 360-degree product visualizations boost website conversions; his long-term plans for the company, and why Dealers should focus on unique visitors and not conquests.
What brought the SpinCar founders together?
Mike Quigley and I went to high school together in upstate New York. After college, Mike moved into product technology roles while I was working in finance. We started getting together when we were both home for holidays, and after a number of discussions we landed on the idea that eventually became SpinCar.
How did you come up with the SpinCar concept?
Earlier in my career, at the time when retailers were starting to invest heavily in eCommerce, the venture capital firm I was with developed a strong focus on companies that specialised in website conversion tools. In developing this investment thesis we predicted that software products capable of increasing website conversion rates would deliver strong ROI, resulting in rapid adoption and high customer satisfaction. At that time, there was plenty of evidence demonstrating that rich, interactive content, particularly 360° product visualizations, drove higher website conversions, but no-one had built a ‘plug and play’ solution that made it easy to create this content. When we came up with the idea for a company that specialized in this area, we initially focused on serving fashion and consumer accessory companies. It wasn’t until March of 2014 that we worked with our first auto dealer group. We straddled both industries for about six months, until we decided to focus purely on automotive. Since that time we’ve never looked back!
How long did it take to develop the SpinCar product?
It took about two years to build our first commercially viable solution, but since that time we’ve constantly refined and added features to the platform. All our technology is built in-house in NYC, by some of the brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. There’s an adage in software engineering that an A+ engineer is an order of magnitude more productive than an A- or B+ engineer. I’m proud to say we’ve managed to build a team full of true A+ engineers, which has enabled us to release a staggering amount of new functionality every month.
What major technical issues had to be overcome before the product could be launched?
There were a lot of technical challenges involved with building a really easy to use merchandising platform that could be leveraged by thousands of customers all over the globe. One particular challenge in the auto industry is that vehicle photographs are taken in a wide variety of conditions (snow, sun, indoors, outdoors, etc) by employees with varying levels of technical expertise. Perhaps the biggest hurdle we overcame was minimizing jitter in the 360° WalkAround™. For that, we developed sensor fusion stabilization technology, based on a complex three-dimensional math algorithm that enables anyone to create natural, seamless virtual vehicle tours, regardless of the user’s skill level. We also do some pretty amazing data science work with our consumer behavioral data.
Being the CEO of SpinCar would be a pretty demanding job. What does Devin Daly do to relax?
I really enjoy water and snow skiing. I spend a lot of time boating and relaxing with family. I also read quite a bit of non-fiction. Lastly, I’m a bit of a movie buff, which helps after an especially stressful day or week.
Were you involved in the auto industry prior to co-founding SpinCar?
Not at all. W we had made some investments in the sector, but I was primarily in the finance industry before SpinCar. Despite not growing up in the car business, I absolutely love the industry – it’s filled with so many entrepreneurs who have bootstrapped their way to success. I’m incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with these folks.
If you weren’t the CEO of SpinCar you’d be…?
Starting something else I’m passionate about or helping fellow entrepreneurs commercialize their product ideas. This has been an amazing experience, both professionally and personally, and I look forward to helping others make their dreams a reality.
What’s the key pushback your sales people get from Dealers when they demonstrate the product?
I think some Dealers prefer not to face the harsh realities of the changing landscape. In today’s day and age, the online showroom will make or break their business. It’s absolutely critical for them to focus as much or more effort on digital merchandizing as their physical showroom. And the most critical component of their online showroom is vehicle visualization, which comprises 82 per cent of website interactions. With a wide variety of competing inventory just a click away, Dealers need to realize how paramount digital merchandising is to their long-term success.
Why should Dealers focus on unique visitors and not conquest?
One of the most impactful ways that Dealers can grow their business is by optimizing the marketing funnel from the bottom up. This means first testing and experimenting with the low funnel to maximize conversion rates before moving to the mid-funnel and eventually to the top of funnel. Starting with low funnel conversion allows Dealers to get far more leverage from their advertising dollars than spending more money to acquire new eyeballs via conquesting.
What’s the one thing people don’t know about Devin Daly?
As an avid outdoorsman, I love hunting waterfowl.
SpinCar is seen as one of the fastest-growing vendors in the US. How big do you think the company can become?
I see a future where virtual vehicle tours are a standard part of the online shopping experience, much the same way that CARFAX vehicle history reports have become the defacto standard for consumers. And I believe that SpinCar is well on its way to becoming the true standard for vehicle visualization. Dealers who don’t offer 360° WalkArounds will be skipped over by consumers accustomed to the rich transparent experiences offered by the vast majority of auto retailers.
Number of employees SpinCar has is…?
Currently we have around 75 employees, but we’re growing so fast I can barely keep track. For the first time in company history, I got an email the other day from a new hire and I didn’t know who it was – that was a pretty eye-opening day that made me realize how much we’ve grown from five people in a shared office.
Without revealing any trade secrets, what is your long-term plan for the SpinCar business?
As a result of the deep level of engagement that consumers have with our virtual vehicle tours, the SpinCar platform generates an incredibly rich set of consumer behavioral data that can be used in a wide variety of applications. This data already powers our SPINtelligent™ Consumer Insight product, which provides Dealer BDCs with detailed data on individual shopper interests and needs, as well as our VINtelligent™ Retargeting product, which delivers the auto industry’s most personalized digital ads to self-identified in-market shoppers. We see unlimited potential as we continue to activate this data with a number of new applications for OEMs, Dealers, website providers and more.
Where do you see yourself personally in 2024?
I think we’ll be continuing to lead the way in automotive merchandising and helping Dealers keep up with the changing digital landscape. There’s a massive amount of capital being invested in digital retailing and we believe that success is predicated on deep, engaging experiences and true transparency. Automotive shoppers need to feel comfortable and informed in order to buy a vehicle without physically touching it. We think SpinCar will play a critical role in this transition to full digital retailing.
Apart from South Africa and Australia, which other countries do you have SpinCar resellers in?
UK, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and France. We have plans to continue global expansion, as our product crosses borders easily and requires minimal translation.
How do the OEMs use SpinCar technology?
In a number of ways. They use our 360° WalkAround technology to enable their retailers to improve the consumer shopping experience. They also use our Capture solution to speed up the off-lease disposition process. Lastly, they leverage our proprietary shopper behavioral data to better understand consumer interests by vehicle, applying those insights in their marketing and product planning processes.
Your biggest achievement to date was/is…?
Helping to build the absolutely amazing team and culture we’re so fortunate to have at SpinCar. None of this would be possible without our fantastic people. Special shout-outs to the team that’s been with us from the old days of 2015–2016.
Finally, if they were going to make a movie about Devin Daly, who would you like to see play you?
A 30year-old Al Pacino or Dwayne Johnson?
With $22M in VC funding, being named Best Tech Startup in Syracuse for the second year in a row and appointing S21Media as the sole Australian reseller of SpinCar, the road ahead for Devin Daly and his team certainly looks smooth.
For more information visit www.spincar.com or call 1300 880 057.