- March 30, 2012
A Naples startup with a focus on software apps for ecommerce, from cars to used EBay goods, has received a $6.5 million angel investment.
The capital comes with a significant piece of validation: Former Morgan Stanley President and COO Robert Scott has joined the board of the company, Dreamware. Scott, according to a June 15 announcement, was named non-executive chairman. “This is pretty significant,” DreamWare founder and CEO Bryan Harmon tells Coffee Talk. “It's not just the capital, but it's the people who we have partnered with.”
The $6.5 million is specifically for Car Lister. That's a DreamWare unit that lets sellers list and buyers shop for new and used cars from a smartphone, tablet or desktop through a proprietary software application. The money will go toward marketing and hiring more people. The funds, says Harmon, come on top of a $483,000 training grant DreamWare received from state officials in April.
DreamWare is run out of offices in Naples and Bonita Springs, where it has grown from 18 to nearly 40 employees over the last year. A sergeant and weapons instructor in the U.S. Marines who is also trained in organic chemistry, Harmon and some partners founded DreamWare in Naples in 2012. One of the sister apps to Car Lister is World Lister, an app that allows users to quickly post Ebay listings.
Car Lister, he says, has even bigger potential. It allows users to instantly list vehicles for sale by providing a VIN number and answering a series of questions. The app generates titles and vehicle descriptions, has space for images and video and includes a full vehicle history report. Buyers can then browse detailed listing pages for new and used cars. Car Lister charges dealers a flat monthly fee to post listings; individuals get up to three free listings per year.
Car Lister's competitors include large sites like Cars.com, AutoTrader and TrueCar. But Car Lister, says Harmon, fills a social media void the others don't. “There is no social platform for the auto industry,” Harmon says. “You can't go to Facebook and buy a car. You can't go to Twitter and buy a car.”
Car Lister has so far worked with more than 200 auto dealers in 29 states — a tiny fraction of where Harmon wants to end up. But getting traction in cars, he's learned, is a big challenge. “It's very hard to penetrate the auto industry,” says Harmon. “It's a tight-knit market.”