Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Entrepreneur Profile: James Hind

Employability Insight: working in a start up

Following a surprise hit blog on employability (link) we bring you a Q&A profile of entrepreneur James Hind, CEO and co-founder of carwow

Who are you and what do you do ?

My name’s James Hind, co-founder and CEO at carwow. I started carwow after graduating from university; I had originally planned a career in corporate finance but was put off after an internship.

James Hind (left) with co-founders Alexandra Margolis & David Santoro.

What does car wow do ?

carwow is a comparison site for buying a new car. We let consumers browse offers from authorised car dealerships across the country, so they can see how car prices and dealer reviews compare. We work directly with dealerships, so we provide them with a platform from which they can boost their car sales, and we’ve helped them sell over £100m of cars since we launched last year.

What is the business model and what’s unique about your product ?

We charge a set commission for each car sold as a direct result of carwow. When it comes to USPs it’s simple: there are no direct competitors in the UK market. Whereas car brokers operate behind veils of secrecy and typically only work with one dealer per brand, we are entirely transparent and put our users completely in control of the buying process – just the way it should be.

Where is the company (& customer offering) going ?

We’ve been fortunate enough to grow very quickly. This time last year there were four staff and we worked with a handful of dealerships, now there are 20 of us and more than 400 dealerships across the UK. The plan is to continue to establish our market share in the UK. We’re doing well but there’s still a huge amount of room for growth. Beyond that, we can expand the product into different market segments such as used cars and commercial vehicles, as well as moving into other geographical markets.

What's it like to work in a tech start up like car wow ?

A lot of startups work incredibly long hours, but we prefer to work smart. So it’s a fairly typical working day, hours are 9-5.30. We have a lot of fun, plenty of team nights out, and there’s a ping-pong table in the office. The thing that really sets it apart from a big company is the camaraderie within the team, everybody pulls together to hit targets and keep improving what we do.

What skills do you look for when recruiting new starters and what kinds of people are successful in your organisation ?

We look for hard-working bright people who can work on their own and make their own decisions. With just 20 staff, every single person has a vital role for the business and it’s crucial they can take ownership. We also look for people that we believe will fit the culture, ie people who are able to have a laugh but work hard when required. Fortunately we’ve never really had any staff issues, and the people we bring on board tend to like working here and perform well.

How do you hire people ?

It depends on the position but typically we’ll post out some job ads and use a recruitment agency. The actual hiring process itself is a phone interview, followed by a face to face with the relevant team, and finally an interview with the CEO (me).

Do you offer internships ?

Absolutely, we’re always looking for people and any support we can get is awesome, we’re also

passionate about showing young people how awesome startups can be. If you’re looking for an internship, ping an email over to

What extra-curricular activities would carry the most weight for current uni students ?

Practise what you preach ! If you’d describe yourself on your CV or in your interview as ‘entrepreneurial’, are you a member of the enterprise society ? Do you run your own business alongside your studies ? Basically just be able to back-up anything you claim. We’re big ping-pong fans too so that’s a plus, but don’t be so good that you beat all of us!

What motivated you to start car wow ?

I’d always known I wanted my own business, but figured it would come later in life. After an internship in corporate finance I was stuck for what I wanted to do to kick off my career. I’ve always been passionate about cars and advised friends and family on what cars to buy, so I figured ‘why not now?’, and never looked back.

Over arching mantra ?

Nothing in particular, just to keep plugging away and be patient as one of the founders of airbnb said something along the lines of ‘Our “overnight” success took 1000 days.’

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