California (Startup) Dreaming

Wharton | San Francisco Venture Initiation Program members have made significant progress during the summer term. This week we highlight two ventures: CarHound and BuckSprout.

CarHound is a marketplace solution for new car buying founded by Andrew Liu, WG’12. CarHound helps make car buying painless for consumers by conducting an online reverse auction with local dealers. Customers visit CarHound.com and tell CarHound what they want, and within 48 hours CarHound finds a competitive and guaranteed out-the-door price from a local dealer. Customers simply make an appointment to go pick up their car or—with some dealers—even have the car delivered to their house!

Andrew Liu, WG’12

CarHound recently relaunched their newly branded site in July 2012 and continues to grow. It has a data partnership with Edmunds, a marketing partnership with Archstone Apartments and advisors from JD Power and Edmunds. It recently won first place at a pitch competition at VC Taskforce and was recently awarded Wharton’s Snider Seed Award.

CarHound is Liu’s second startup, and he left his most recent post in 2011 to pursue this venture full-time.

“I enjoy seeing an idea that went from concept in my mind to reality and talking to customers who are happy with and willing to pay for the service,” says Liu. “I enjoy constantly learning, changing and improving. I enjoy working with a team of really smart people knowing that there are no limitations; trying to solve problems.”

BuckSprout is an early stage startup co-founded by two second-year WEMBA students, Amilcar Chavarria and Daniel Chen. Chavarria and Chen both quit their jobs in February 2012 to get their company off the ground. BuckSprout focuses on helping people save and invest wisely. BuckSprout believes its approach is unique in that it leverages cutting edge concepts from captology (the study of computers as persuasive technologies) and portfolio management combined. BuckSprout endeavors to help Americans take control of their money matters online in a fun and hands-free manner—one buck at a time—and help people to save and invest wisely.

Daniel Chen and Amilcar Chavarria (left to right)

To date, BuckSprount has focused on building a team with strong finance and engineering skills. The firm first focused on getting its technical co-founders (alumni of CalTech, IIT, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Netflix, and various startups), and then focused on recruiting advisors to help with addressing weaknesses and expediting learning.

“By attending VIP events and being part of the Wharton community, we’ve been able to meet great people in the valley. They, in turn, have also opened many doors.” says Chavarria. “We’ve been able to leverage school projects for the benefit of the startup.”

He adds: “The highs are higher than in a corporate job. The problem lies in the lows also being lower (by orders of magnitude) than in a corporate job as well. The key source of enjoyment is overcoming the obstacles and moving ahead every time. It feels like a game in a way where all odds are against you and only a few survive.”

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Blog on Sept. 14, 2012.

 

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