DENVER -- “If you can snap a photo, you can sell your car yourself." -- that’s the promise of a new, Denver-based app that hopes to shake up the traditional model of used car sales.
"We absolutely believe that this is going to change the way people buy and sell cars," said Rod Buscher, CEO and Founder of Blinker. “We’re the only company on the planet who verifies the buyer, the seller and the car. All for free.”
Blinker allows users to take a photo of any car in the United States and learn the make, model, year, mileage and estimated value. With another photo of their driver’s license, a seller can list their car and a buyer can get approved for financing — in minutes. The Blinker app handles purchase offers and payments, ensures the seller is paid in full and also completes official title documents.
A few weeks ago, Elliot Gamble, a Denver Lyft driver, was shopping at used car lots and feeling frustrated with his options.
“While I was walking around the lot, my brother was on his phone looking at the Blinker app, and he was saying there is a 2008 Audi Q7 for $10,500," said Gamble. “So I downloaded the app, took a picture of my drivers license and set up a test-drive with the car’s owner. It was really simple.”
Meanwhile, Cat Sergeant was trying to figure out how to sell her 2014 Toyota Corolla in Denver.
"It seems like a waste of space and time to go into a high-pressure dealership," said Sergeant, who instead got on Blinker and listed her car. “I just put in my information, and they marketed it everywhere. It was on Craigslist. It was on some auto sites. I didn’t really have to do anything beyond just putting it in.”
Blinker uses its own marketplace and other listing sites, but the app also promotes selling on social media through Facebook and Twitter.
About two months after she listed the car (after she lowered her asking price from Blinker's suggested price), Sergeant had a verified buyer offering $3,000 more than the dealerships had.
"I got $14,000, which was much closer to its actual value,” she said. “It goes straight to your bank account. We never had to deal with cash."
Blinker buyers and sellers must send a driver's license photo for identity verification, and they must give their bank account information to transfer money. They can arrange a location for a test-drive through the app.
Buscher said the goal is to provide an end-to-end transaction to make the process of buying or selling a car yourself faster, easier and safer.
"The advantage of Blinker is we provide all the tools for free," said Rod Buscher, a veteran of brick-and-mortar auto sales. He founded the John Elway Dealerships and later the Summit Automotive Partners groups, but sold his interests and started Blinker in 2013.
“Everything we do is protected," he said. "We do 17-point fraud checks on the front end on the seller of the car, and we verify the car has never been in a significant accident where it was a salvage vehicle, never been a flood vehicle, never been a stolen vehicle. So, we do all those verifications.”
The company has 48 employees, recently moving to an office in Downtown Denver with the expectation of doubling in size by 2017.
This year, the Denver Office of Economic Development recognized Blinker as one of the Denver Startup Week 2016 "Gazelles," firms that show the most potential for raising money and creating jobs.
“Denver is becoming a significant tech hub, and there’s a lot of talent in this town,” said Buscher. “We’ve developed this 100 percent in-house. We haven’t developed in China or in India. It’s all been done right here in downtown Denver.”
While the app and its services are free, Blinker is actually a financial services company, making its money through optional financing available through the app.
The app allows users to customize the loan terms that they chose and offers service contracts at a discounted price.
"We sell a warranty on the cars for 30 to 40 percent less than a dealership,” said Buscher, who said the company also guarantees payment to sellers, and the buyer is not required to finance through Blinker. "We make no money on that transaction, but we support it 100 percent."
Elliot Gamble said he decided to finance his new Audi through the app, and he completed the entire process on his lunch break, on his phone.
“I got a great deal on the car -- about $4,000 less than retail," said Gamble, driving away with a feeling not many have after buying or selling a car. "It was amazing, and we were just really blessed to find it."
Blinker is fully transactional only in Colorado, but it is soon expanding to California, Texas and Florida.
Soon, car owners will be able to use the app to refinance cars, as well purchase parts, service and car insurance.