How Cazoo became Britains fastest unicorn –

During the Christmas holidays in 2002, he spotted an advert for Netflix, which posted DVDs to subscribers in the pre-streaming days. Chesterton decided the idea could be an even bigger success in Britain, where the Royal Mail made nationwide next-day delivery.

Fast-forward to 2018 when Chesterton sat through a handful of adverts for Carvana, which sells used cars online in the US: he wondered if the same thing would work back home. “The single biggest retail market out there, bar none, is used cars, which is worth £100bn in the UK, and €700bn (£600bn) across Europe. And the single biggest sector had the lowest digital penetration.”

The entrepreneur – who has moonlit as an angel investor and backed a string of other British start-ups – admits he knew next to nothing about cars when he started. “Every time I’ve gone into a space, somebody has always said to me you’ll never succeed. What do you know about films or property? I’ve heard that every time, usually from industry players within the space for 20 years. My comeback to that has always been ‘I love films, I live in a property, I drive a car. I’m the customer.’

“What more do I really need to know? Can I make the consumer proposition of buying or selling a car better? Do I need 20 years of industry experience to do that? No.”

Buying a car online without haggling or high-pressure sales tactics, he insists, is simply more enjoyable: “It’s a fundamentally-better proposition. We have 100 times the selection. We are completely transparent on value. You don’t have to spend half a day travelling.”

Investors backed the idea, making Cazoo Britain’s fastest ever company to reach the hallowed “unicorn” status at which point it is worth $1bn.

And consumers are starting to come around. In the first half of this year Cazoo sold 20,454 cars – five times as many as the same period last year. Revenues rose from £40m to £248m, although much more growth will be needed to live up to the company’s valuation. Half-year losses grew, from £31m a year ago to £102m.

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