Chicago startup Carlease wants to keep you from spending hours in a dealership with pushy car salesmen by letting you lease a car online and getting it sent right to your door.
Carlease announced Wednesday that it has raised a $3.5 million funding round led by Lightbank. The startup, which just launched last year, lets customers browse from a range of vehicles on its site and select a car they’d like to lease. A Carlease expert provides the customer with lease offers, and then handles the approval process, trade-ins, and delivers the new vehicle to the customer’s home or office. Carlease partners with local car dealers to fulfill the transaction, as well as scheduling test drives.
The startup is led by Andy O’Dower, who previously worked as the chief product officer at Curiosity.com and the director of product at Cars.com.
Carlease’s funding round also included backing from automotive and technology experts like former Cars.com president Mitch Golub, and DRIVIN co-founders Kayne Grau and Justin Mahlik. DRIVIN, a Chicago startup founded by Eric Lefkofsky and Brady Keywell, was acquired last year for $43 million.
“Leases now account for nearly one-third of all new vehicle sales, with those percentages going up significantly across luxury makes and with millennial buyers,” O’Dower said in a statement. “Leases are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons, including rapid advancements in automotive technology, and shoppers are looking for a convenient, one-stop shop to help them navigate the leasing process and quickly get into their next car.”
Carlease joins several other auto startups that are making it easier to purchase a car online. Carvana, a Phoenix-based startup with $300 million in venture funding, lets customers buy and sell cars online. Shift, a similar online car buying startup, has raised more than $100 million in funding.