Carlypso: Overcoming Bumps in the Road in the Used Car Industry

By Peter Reiss, Ryan Kissick
2016 | Case No. E546 | Length 27 pgs.

“Carlypso: Overcoming Bumps in the Road in the Used Car Industry” explores various challenges associated with scaling a start-up.  In 2013, Christopher Coleman and Nicholas Hinrichsen cofounded Carlypso, a company that simplified the process of buying and selling used cars.  Over the course of two years, Coleman and Hinrichsen ran into a series of challenges that prevented Carlypso from selling cars more efficiently.  The case highlights several of these challenges, as well as the innovative steps Coleman and Hinrichsen took to overcome these challenges.

Specific obstacles addressed in the case include: attracting used car sellers to Carlypso; reducing the amount of time required to meet with potential buyers; overcoming operational inefficiencies through the use of technology; learning the types of cars that sell quickest; dealing with copycat competitors; and figuring out how to grow monthly sales in a scalable fashion.

Learning Objective

Through an in-depth examination of the challenges associated with scaling a start-up, the Carlypso case highlights several learning objectives: 1) Determining whether an idea makes sense to pursue as a full-time venture; 2) Raising money; 3) Using technology to solve operational challenges; 4) Utilizing start-up incubators to accelerate growth; 5) Understanding when to make a strategic pivot.
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