LinkedIn: Alexandra Esteve
I am a woman, who is disrupting a male-dominated industry that affects every single American.
At CarBuckets we want to make car buying experience fun by making it transparent. We group car buyers by the brand of cars they want to buy and ask dealerships for a volume price. It takes 2-3 minutes to sign up and less than 24 hours to receive the lowest price quoted by dealerships nationwide. The buyer gets the car delivered to their home free of charge.
THE BIG IDEA:
False promises and fake prices are killing the value of the automotive industry. For the past 10 years I was running marketing and e-commerce for four dealerships, one of them being among the top ten stores in the country. When it comes to advertising online, fake prices are used to get people through the doors of dealerships. The difference between the advertised price and the actual price paid at the dealership is in thousands of dollars: dealer fees and processing fees are never disclosed online, manufacturer’s rebates advertised might not be available because they depend on a buyer’s credit score, etc. I founded CarBuckets out of frustration this system was causing to all the parties involved. CarBuckets has a legally binding contract with all participating dealerships. The contract requires them to write the price down to the penny with all the fees disclosed upfront. We are exclusively working with the dealers, who are willing to give this experience to the car buyers.
ON GROWING UP IN MIAMI:
I went to Carrollton school for girls at the age of 5 and left when I was 18. One great thing the school teaches, especially if you get in at an early age, is that women can do anything. You have a student body that’s all women, you have the President of the school, who during my time was a woman. We learned to do everything we needed without the help of men.
In the 80s and 90s in Miami having a stay-at-home mother was a norm. There was a disconnect between our daily experiences at school and what we saw in our homes. Many girls like me didn’t think that arrangement was fair. Miami is a different place now.
ON GENDER DISPARITY:
For thirteen years of my life during the school years I didn’t have a day-to-day interaction with boys. The only time I was around men of my age was socially. When I entered Babson College for my Undergraduate degree the situation was completely different. At that time the ratio was 70% men to 30% women. I think Carrollton had built me up with the notion that girls can take over the world, this is why I wasn’t afraid to speak and raised my hand in my classes at Babson. But a male-dominated environment can be very intimidating for women and work done by organizations like the Knight Foundation and Babson WINLab are invaluable.
ON BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR:
Since my childhood I knew that to be in control over my life and to be in charge of the difference I wanted to make in the world, I had to become an entrepreneur.
One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur is turning an idea into business. For me an added challenge was coming from a family where women don’t work while men run a family business in the automotive industry. I’m the first woman in the family, who has gone to work in the business where every power position is occupied by a man. Being the first in anything requires a lot of confidence.
Raising money for a company isn’t easy, not because the process is complicated, but because it’s difficult to stay optimistic and enthusiastic after the doors get closed and investors pass on the opportunity. Two things every entrepreneur should master are to be confident and to get up fast after a fall. Everyone, women and men, have to possess those two solid traits to be successful as entrepreneurs.
ON WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT:
Every investor I’ve spoken to has been a man, except for two women. To this day the worst meeting I’ve ever had was with a female investor, who called me for a meeting and made it a point to destroy me. If I didn’t have the character I have and without the support from my team, I would have given up the day I met with that woman. A part of being an entrepreneur is learning to deal with rejection. Many investors have passed but it was always about the business. It made me sad, because we cannot move forward if women aren’t supporting women.
The second woman was very professional but visibly disengaged during our meeting. I don’t know the reason behind it, but all the male investors in San Francisco, New York and Miami always seemed more engaged during our meetings. I refuse to attribute that disengagement to the fact that the automotive industry is dominated by men and want to believe that female investors can easily learn about the industry and jump on the opportunity.
There are hundreds of female-only funds, who only invest in women. All of them are advertising how much they want to help women. I did my research and reached out to all such funds I could find. Not a single one had a courtesy to reply to my requests or at least acknowledge my emails. Other funds tend to respond to all the inquiries.
We are currently working on simplifying and modernizing the car buying experience across the country.
#MIAMIFOUNDER campaign celebrates Miami’s top 30 Female Founders for their significant innovative contributions today and tomorrow. With the generous support from the Knight Foundation and with the help from the (WIN) Lab Miami we want to tell the story of Miami as a place where women lead, innovate and engage in meaningful entrepreneurship. JOIN THE CONVERSATION