The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Grad student starts new online car marketplace

Illbuy.png provides a simple way to buy a car. (Courtesy of


After a long day of car searching, Cox graduate student Sharjeel Saeed and his cousin had had enough. They had driven to three different places and were getting nowhere. On their way to the last dealership, Saeed and his cousin tossed an idea around.

That idea was a different way to buy cars:

The online car-buying site focuses on the buyer’s ability to determine prices rather than sellers. Saeed, in the professional master of business administration program, with four others developed a business plan and a beta site within 68 days of the Dec. 21 car ride. The group took to the Hackomotive, a competition sponsored by, and placed fifth. Now the group is working on fully launching the website in the next month.

“We want to change the way people purchase cars. Period,” Saeed said.

The website works the opposite of current online car buying experiences. Ads are created by people who are serious about purchasing a car and posted for sellers that have a monthly subscription to view these ads. Private sellers can create memberships and browse through buyers for free.

“We want to return the purchasing power to who it belongs — the buyer,” Saeed said. “This industry has incumbent firms that are dinosaurs and don’t realize that people don’t want to buy cars the same way anymore.”

Dealers can only contact buyers if they have exactly what the buyers are looking for at the price they want to pay.

“Think of us as the Priceline of car buying. You pick your perfect car(s) and your perfect price,” Saeed said.

The site has a system that rates dealers to make sure they don’t try and contact buyers without addressing their exact needs. Dealers can get blocked or rated down in ranking to keep them honest. uses Edmund’s API to create relevant content around the ad, such as vehicle reviews, True Market Value (similar to Kelly Blue Book pricing), gas mileage, pictures and videos so that both buyers and sellers have all the relevant information.

Saeed’s car buying experience with his cousin is similar to his experiences helping others in his family buy cars. After doing focus groups and conducting research, women between the ages of 18-to-40 are their initial target market.

“We found that a lot of women know what they want in a car, but they don’t want to go through the hassle of car buying,” Ali Kassam,’s marketing consultant, said.

Kassam helped the develop the team’s marketing strategy that focuses online marketing and targeting on Facebook, Twitter and other high-traffic sites rather than using websites solely aimed at women. Pinterest marketing is planned, however the team is figuring out how to utilize Pinterest the best way.

“It’s about rolling it out the right way,” Kassam said. “ It has one of the highest conversion points but you have to utilize it the right way.”

The team is made of Saeed, the CEO, Sheezan Jivani, the CWO, Salim Jivani, the COO, and Saleem Ali, the CMO. The group has been bouncing and executing ideas off of each other ever since they knew each other. Kassam and Saeed, who have known each other for more than 10 years, both have the entrepreneurial spirit.

“Being entrepreneurial is kind of in my blood,” Kassam said.

Kassam’s parents are small business owners and he went to Texas Christian University for a degree in strategy marketing and business. He is also an account manager at, an ad tech company based in Fort Worth.

In the 68 days between the December car trip and the February Hackmotive competition, a beta site and video was prepared that allowed the team to explain their goals to industry professionals.

“It was amazing,” Saeed said. “Being able to raise some eyebrows and getting invaluable feed back.”

At the Hackmotive competition, the team beat out 67 other teams, some of which already had been established for years.

“No one expected anything from us,” Saeed said.

They were considered the surprise of the competition. At the competition, one of the things that impressed others is their unique URL.

The website is on an Italian server, thus having an .it extension, rather than .com. This is similar to, which is on a Finnish domain.

“The internet is such a creative space,” Saeed said. “We wanted to stand out. It was really big for our brand.”

The long-term plan is to completely change the car buying experience by becoming the Amazon of the car buying industry.

“Imagine a day where you can click a few buttons and the next thing you know, you have your perfect car at your perfect price delivered to your driveway,” Saeed said. “We think that day will be here sooner than you think.”

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