Future of Auto Retailing

Future of Auto Retailing

Alex and Brent identified that the used car industry was broken and needed to evolve to better serve its stakeholders. They built Curbie with the mission of taking the frustration out of buying and selling vehicles. The company launched in Saskatoon to test-market their innovative business model, with the greater goal of bringing an app to market and scale their business nationally.

The founders came to Territorial due to their appreciation of our design thinking approach, collective team skillset, and the extreme level of client care we provide. We also helped them explore and leverage the importance of customer experience, both online and offline. Together, we brought Curbie to market—from ideation to Minimum Viable Product—in less than seven months.

We felt like Territorial’s only client, though it wasn’t true. That’s just the level of care they gave us. Territorial solves problems — they ask the right questions, and translate their insights into a masterpiece.

Alex Cruder & Brent Gudelot

— Founders, Curbie

Alex Cruder & Brent Gudelot

Problem Definition

When Curbie first approached us, there was no comparable player in the Canadian vehicle retail market, so we looked for insights and inspiration south of the border. Initially, the problem that we were trying to solve was ‘how do we create a unique and enjoyable experience around buying or selling a used car’, but we soon realized the problem was more complex and needed to be tackled from multiple angles.

Curbie Wireframes

After numerous iterations, the problem definition has evolved to ‘can we create a better model for stakeholders in the used car industry (i.e. both customers and dealerships) by removing costs to accessing inventory while increasing inventory options, and providing a scalable sales distribution channel?’. And let’s just say the problem definition continues to evolve with the market, keeping us on our toes.

Despite a steep learning curve and the trials and tribulations that come with the startup territory, the combined team of Curbie, Bitstrata and Territorial was thrilled to launch our MVP platform within seven months of our kick-off meeting. The secret sauce? Rapid and collaborative frontend design process, led by Zach Perkins, Territorial’s creative director: collaborate, prototype, design, repeat. Additionally, having the founders and the proficient Bitstrata development team included in early design discussions allowed for faster development down the road.

Adaptive Resiliency

The place to start with Curbie was to create a unique brand that would appeal to our target audience. After an extensive discovery phase, strategist and account manager Vero Kokolus worked with designer Kirstie Seier to build out a comprehensive visual identity – from logomark, colours, and fonts to UI design and brand applications, both offline and online. We were lucky to benefit from a several solid models of inspiration in other markets, and felt strongly that Curbie can improve upon these models.

As Alex and Brent—equipped with the fresh brand graphics—began sharing Curbie within their circles, it became apparent that something was amiss. The visual identity didn’t seem to resonate with the audience as expected. It’s no secret that startups need to constantly iterate until they find the perfect model, and we’ve learned that investors are looking for signs of adaptive resiliency. Hence, our best option was to embrace the failure, learn from the experience, and get back to the drawing board.

Armed with the insights from the early user feedback, Zach, Vero and Kirstie iterated the visual identity with a focus on broader audience appeal. After a rapid design sprint, we updated our online presence with new brand graphics. In the meantime, however, a larger problem was brewing – even with the updated brand assets, people didn’t seem to easily understand what it was that Curbie did.

Knowledge Mobilization

As the founders spoke to more and more people, Vero and Territorial Partner Daren McLean realized that the initial model and way of talking to people wasn’t working. Rather than leading with what Curbie is and assuming that people would implicitly understand the benefits, it became apparent that we had to switch these priorities.

We decided that an online and offline knowledge mobilization campaign was required. The online part was relatively easy, with a focus on engaging ad design and smart ad placements on Facebook, Kijiji, Autotrader, Google, and all the other usual places.

For the offline world, we devised a guerilla-inspired campaign that involved ‘delightful deliveries’ and ‘sidewalk surprises’, and Vero shared with Curbie her best-kept marketing secret in Saskatoon: the Farmers’ Market. Admittedly, putting Alex, Brent, and a truck with a bow on the ground next to people selling artisanal honey raised a few eyebrows. Armed with branded cupcakes to sweeten the deal, the founders were forced to explain their innovative concept over and over to curious market goers, and this weekly exercise allowed them to quickly tweak their pitch to potential customers. In the end, they received more sales leads and partnership contacts from their Farmers’ Market engagement than other channels combined.

The Dream Team

Recognizing the potential of their disruptive model, Territorial decided to take our partnership to another level and invest in Curbie. After almost a year of working together, we’re a partner in the success. We’re embedded in the Curbie team and involved in the constant feedback process. This has given us the ability to iterate quickly and maintain the advantage needed to further evolve the product and its online and offline presence.

Sarah Etter

Senior Developer

Frontend Development, SVG Animation

Daniela Flores

Designer

Graphic Design, Production

Zach Perkins

Creative Director

Strategy, UX Design, Customer Experience

Brent Gudelot

Co-Founder, Curbie

Alex Cruder

Co-Founder, Curbie

Daren McLean

Partner, CEO

Strategy, Business Mentorship, Account Management

Vero Kokolus

Strategist, Account Manager

Strategy, Account & Project Management, Events

Kirstie Seier

Designer

Brand Development, UI Design, Social Media

Daren McLean

Partner, CEO

Strategy, Business Mentorship, Account Management

Daren McLean

Vero Kokolus

Strategist, Account Manager

Strategy, Account & Project Management, Events

Vero Kokolus

Brent Gudelot

Co-Founder, Curbie

Sarah Etter

Alex Cruder

Co-Founder, Curbie

Ozzie Neher

Kirstie Seier

Designer

Brand Development, UI Design, Social Media

Kirstie Seier

Zach Perkins

Creative Director

Strategy, UX Design, Customer Experience

Zach Perkins

Daniela Flores

Designer

Graphic Design, Production

Daniela Flores

Sarah Etter

Senior Developer

Frontend Development, SVG Animation

Sarah Etter

Daniela Flores

Designer

Graphic Design, Production

Daniela Flores
One of the main challenges of this project was how do we continue to adapt to increase effectiveness, while maintaining a strict budget and a dynamic timeline that comes with the startup territory. Soon, I learned that we needed to let go of a precise scope definition early on. At Territorial, we pride ourselves on our nimble operations, but I was humbled by the level of adaptation and constant learning that was essential for this project.

Vero Kokolus

— Strategist, Account Manager, Territorial

Integrated Agency Mindset

In a lot of ways, young, entrepreneurial Curbie resembles a young, entrepreneurial Territorial in 2006. As our teams worked together throughout the project, multiple areas of mentorship naturally emerged: Daren joined Curbie’s advisory board, Lead Developer Sarah Etter taught Bitstrata’s frontend team about SVG animation, and Vero and Kirstie were coaching Chris, Curbie’s intern, through a number of marketing assets and initiatives.

Together, we’ve achieved a lot in a short period of time. From a unique visual identity to an innovative online platform and venture capital conference assets, we’ve been able to provide Curbie with almost everything they needed to successfully bring their product to market, promote it, and iterate quickly.

  • Visual Identity
  • Web Design / UI
  • Web UX
  • User Experience Workshop
  • Brand Applications
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Assets
  • Social Media Management
  • Event Management
  • Frontend Development
  • Backend Development
  • SEO
From the first interaction, I was excited to work with Brent and Alex. They had the right mix of industry knowledge for their business idea, combined with an attitude and thirst for more. Working with them closely as Curbie has gone from ideation to market, I’m continually impressed by their hustle, quick decision making, and ability to open new doors. The future is bright 👊

Daren McLean

— CEO, Partner, Territorial

Curbie Brand Curbie Business Cards Curbie Air Fresheners Curbie Brand Curbie at the Saskatoon Farmers Market

What's Next

After a successful launch and first season, Curbie is in full operation in Saskatoon. So far, the customer feedback has been amazing, and all of their initial inventory has been sold. In addition, the response within the used car industry has been largely positive, further validating the need to evolve – the same need that Brent and Alex had recognized more than a year ago.

It’s been a wild ride so far, and we’re excited to be part of the Curbie team as the product continues to iterate. The founders are currently connecting with new partners and raising funds to expand their operations across the Prairies, and we’re excited to continue tackling the challenges of scaling a business by their side.

Spaceship

7

Months it took from Concept to MVP Launch

Cupcake

504

Number of sweet deal cupcakes we handed out

Car keys

42

Days it took to sell out initial inventory

Looking for a Partner in Success?

Through our partnership with Curbie, the Territorial team has demonstrated a high level of adaptability and showcased a wide array of skills. Give us a shout if you have a problem we can tackle.

Daren McLean

Partner, Territorial

daren@territorial.ca

306-717-5713

Daren McLean Scott Borys