Turner Novak, Meme Investor, Makes Biggest Bet Yet In $3.2 Million Vinn Auto Seed

Before the closure of factories due to pandemics and microchip shortages would reduce the sales of new cars in Canada and dramatically increase the cost of used vehicles. The businessman Caleb Bernabe had an idea. Being a young car-loving teen, He’d been to the purchase process several times but wasn’t a fan of the pressure-based tactics of dealerships used on buyers who were making financially essential choices. He’d also been a part of the disruptive nature of 150 billion dollars of American used automobile market as new startups developed the art of e-commerce for resales of automobiles and later applied for IPOs-for instance, Carvana in 2017 Vroom Shift the following suit in 2020.

There wasn’t any similar to this in Canada’s less lucrative $14.3 billion used car market. The plan was to find a way to connect Canada’s consumers base to retail outlets in a way that would be better for everyone, and all without acquiring any inventory appealed to Bernabe. In 2019 along with cofounders Tom Avant and Chet Flanagan, he launched his auto-related online marketplace Vinn Auto from his hometown of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Then, a year after, the pandemic struck. As more people could not get to public transportation or opt to drive themselves in the meantime, it was apparent that the Canadian demand for pre-owned vehicles was booming. Vinn helped assist it. 

Chet Flanagan Caleb Bernabe (CEO) and Tom Avant, cofounders of the Canadian auto e-commerce platform Vinn.

Bernabe was the focus at the attention of Twitter gagman and Banana Capital founder Turner Novak who’s earned an impression by interspersing analysis of industry trends with funny images on Twitter. Banana Capital has now made its most significant investment to date in Vinn by establishing an exclusive specific vehicle (SPV) to increase the amount of capital it has contributed to its fund. This week, Vinn has announced the launch of a $3.2 million round of seed funding, led by Novak’s micro-VC comrade Andrew Wilkinson. The VC admits that it took some convincing to decide to invest in Vinn. Still, in the end, Bernabe’s perseverance and absence of any apparent competition in Canada convinced him to invest.

“There are opportunities for profit in specific niches,” Wilkinson, who lives in Vancouver, wrote through an email.

While Vinn’s geographical specificity was a draw for Wilkinson, Novak was most impressed by Vinn’s innovative web-centric strategy.

“They discovered a way to make their business capital-efficient, akin to the sales rep for a dealer,” Novak tells Forbes. “They do not have any inventory, which means they’re in a position to bid on keywords on the internet that aren’t as competitive because they don’t need to move and sell their car immediately. They’re looking for people with interest in the vehicle.”

When those who went online to find a particular product, for example, a 2014 blue Ford Escape, discovered, or, better yet, conversion may be possible after they find out Vinn. Of the potential customers of 40,000 who have used Vinn’s service so far, the company claims that 20 to 25 percent have decided to buy cars. No pushy salesperson showmanship is necessary.

Vinn anticipates seeing its revenues grow to seven figures in 2021. It will charge dealerships who have joined its platform two to four percent charge on transactions, based on the cost of the car sold and other variables. Vinn’s technology also searches the web for listings of retailers that haven’t yet joined the platform; however, according to Vinn’s data–they will often do when they learn that the marketplace brought customers to their stores.

“It’s an entirely new type of customer. It’s more of a transaction that is not a direct sale to your dealership.” Bernabe says.

Alongside expanding into Canada and, eventually, Bernabe hopes, into the U.S.–Bernabe and his cofounders intend to use their new capital to launch a peer-to-peer vehicle selling service that will challenge grassroots and social operations as Facebook or Craigslist.

While Novak is thrilled about Vinn’s potential, he’s aware of the obstacles that the company will encounter on its path to a dominant market for used cars. “It’s an early-stage company in the beginning. Everything is still in the air. The team could fail,” the man states.

While we wait, Novak seems pleased that Bernabe keeps his expenses at a minimum. “TIL signs can be expensive. Therefore, we’re stuck in ‘I can’t pay someone to complete something I can do me,” Novak, who was starting as CEO, tweeted in August. He included an image of a brand new Vinn sign that he had made of wood that he had gathered from his father’s garage, which he later put up in the company’s office. “Looking great,” Novak replied, signing off by emojis of sunglasses.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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