From left: Ed Brojerdi, Gloria Ma, Andrew Rohrlich and Craig Nehamen
Consumers who have bought or sold used vehicles independently often find themselves stressed and knee-deep in paperwork.
Enter Caramel, a digital vehicle checkout platform that aims to simplify private-party and independent dealer sales, including safely connecting private party buyers and sellers and handling all the burdensome paperwork, including dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Los Angeles-based company launched in March after raising $12 million in funding. Caramel's digital platform helps used car buyers, independent dealers and private sellers securely connect and complete transactions regardless of the channel they use to buy their cars.
There are more than 60,000 independent dealers across the U.S., which actually dwarfs some of the big franchise dealers from a volume perspective, says Ed Brojerdi, co-founder and co-CEO of Caramel.
Caramel is a licensed dealer and digitally holds money in escrow until the car and title are delivered, so buyers know they’ll get what they’ve paid for (authenticating the title is clean) and sellers know they’ll get paid fast, according to the company. Payment is digital, secure and traceable.
“It's such a high-stakes purchase, there's so much that can go wrong,” adds Craig Nehamen, co-founder and co-CEO of Caramel. “There aren't that many big problems left that technology hasn't solved yet. So we were just surprised that there was a problem this big left in our space that maybe we could tackle a little bit. And it hasn't really been too easy to solve problems in this space until recently, because the industry is very antiquated.”
Four of the founders started their careers in the ad business and three of the four have a marketing and branding background.
“We all come from different sort of consumer-oriented spaces and backgrounds -- and you know how it is, you're always attempting to solve a consumer problem and really serve them first,” says Brojerdi, who was formerly CEO of kbs+ New York and spent a decade at McCann in senior leadership roles.
Nehamen started his career at Y&R in strategic planning and was previously vice president of strategy and corporate cevelopment at Westlake Financial, and co-founded Fair, where he served as chief strategy officer. Gloria Ma, co-founder, vice president design at Caramel, started her career at ad agency RAPP, then spent time at TrueCar and Fair. Andrew Rohrlich, co-founder, vice president marketing, started his marketing career in-house at Gap and other brands before joining Mothersauce agency, then moved back to the brand side at Fair.
The company has partnered with some notable automotive influencers on YouTube and Instagram and TikTok that have very large audiences who are buying and selling private party cars almost on a regular basis.
“It’s been amazing to see how quickly audiences have gravitated towards this product,” Brojerdi says.