Last week at MassChallenge, we had our annual International Night, a fantastic event which allows our international startups the opportunity to showcase their companies to the MassChallenge community.
The most valuable part of the event is hearing the personal stories from these startup founders and this is exactly why we love to highlight finalists on our blog. Continuing with this theme, I was able to catch up with Andrew Gordon: Engineer, Computer Science whiz, and founder of DealerScience — here’s what he had to say!
Give me the elevator pitch on your company:
In my own dealership, I recognized that sales managers were spending most of their time calculating payment scenarios for customers. I developed a suite of solutions that helped grow sales 117% in one year without adding staff to the sales department. DealerScience removes the primary bottleneck in the dealership sales process, enabling the entire sales staff — not just the managers — to quickly and accurately desk deals in seconds. This allows the same team to sell more cars in less time while reducing contracting errors, leading to a more productive showroom.
Tell me a little bit about your background: what did you do previously?
I graduated from Tufts as a Mechanical/Computer Science engineer with a Masters in Engineering Management. I spent a few years after school working in California for Saleen, a high-performance vehicle manufacturer, as a Calibration Engineer. When I moved back east, I started helping out Weymouth Honda, my family’s business. It didn’t take long for me to be frustrated by the amount of administrative work I needed to keep up with to do my job well. After the third or fourth time doing something, I’d lock myself in my office for a few days and try to automate the task. I spent a lot of time following my employees and automating the most time consuming and error-prone part of their jobs. It turns out that I wasn’t the only person with this pain point.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
To me, it starts with that moment when you show someone with pain that you understand their problem and can solve it. Once that’s in place, it’s a process of creating value for the customer so your product is more valuable to them than their money. Entrepreneurship is really about your market and how you solve their problem, and your product is just the means to solve it. It’s often hard to see past your product, but I think it’s what makes DealerScience work.
How did you first get involved?
I first got involved by solving my own pain point at Weymouth Honda. We had some phenomenal results (we saw a 117% increase in sales in one year without adding any staff to our team) that caught the attention of other dealers. We never set out to create a company and product — that idea came to us after we had solved our own problem and started to hear complaints from other dealers wishing they could solve it too.
Where/when did you have that “aha!” moment for envisioning DealerScience?
I remember walking up behind one of my Sales Managers while he was working payments for a customer in the showroom and found that he was using an experimental Lease Calculator I had built on the website to gauge interest from our website visitors. Instead of getting frustrated with him for not using the expensive tool we paid for, I asked him why he was using the tool I had made, that has now become the bread and butter of DealerScience. He simply stated, “It’s faster, easier, and right.” At that moment, I realized there was an opportunity here.
What is the pain point you’re hoping to solve with DealerScience?
Our customers say that our tool removes the bottleneck in a dealership’s sales department. By speeding up and simplifying the process of working payments, we are able to free up some of the most expensive and overworked staff in a dealership from their time consuming administrative work. We spoke with a dealer today who said his salespeople used to convince customers not to lease because they didn’t want to have to wait for their managers to work the payments. When we presented our pricing automation tool to another dealer, the Sales Manager said “That’s ridiculous!” and actually got teary eyed. We all had a little laugh there, but it shows how significant and personal the pain point is to these dealers.
Why MassChallenge and what are your goals while being involved in the accelerator?
We didn’t know what to expect from MassChallenge at first. We thought it was going to help us focus our efforts and perhaps give us a little direction about how to grow. We had no idea how much help MassChallenge would provide or how much we needed help and direction. We are hoping to get help scaling our business and creating a repeatable sales process. Along with that, we are looking to define and crystallize our value proposition and tie that to our account management and marketing material.
What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur? Weakness?
I don’t even think of myself as an entrepreneur but rather someone who loves to solve problems. I think my greatest strength in that area is that I try to solve those problems with the user and use case in mind. I think my greatest weakness is my difficulty simplifying our brand and products so their value is immediately and clearly understood, which makes me very thankful for my wonderful team. They’re awesome.
What do you do to blow off steam when you’re taking a break from changing the world?
I’m an avid outdoorsman, professional tinkerer, and dog-lover (my pup, Maisie, is the unofficial DealerScience mascot). Rock climbing, barefoot water-skiing, and snow skiing are a few of my favorites.
What’s one quality that you think entrepreneurs need to have and why?
Thick skin. You can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of hours, and you need to still function. The good and the bad opinions need to be tempered and taken for what they are without taking them too seriously or not seriously enough.
The Startup Showcase is coming up, what excites you about the event?
I’m excited to work on our pitch. Every time we showcase our company and value, we get really valuable feedback that resonates and makes us better as a company.
- James Maynard, MassChallenge Marketing
Originally published at masschallenge.org.