Stepup Alum Launches DriverSide, a Car Maintenance Site

There is a sudden glut of sites that allow people to register their cars and get specific service information and recommendations about them.

First, there was Autobytel’s MyRide. RepairPal launched last week. This week, it is DriverSide, which is being developed by Jad Dunning, an executive with StepUp through its acquisition by Intuit, and Trevor Traina. The site, which has 20 staffers and is funded by Catamount Ventures, is designed to meet consumer needs between purchases and simplify automotive ownership. “We want consumers to make good decisions wherever they are in the cycle,” says Dunning.

DriverSide is geared around mainstream drivers rather than high-end enthusiasts. It also has focused on localized needs, such as servicing. “We engineer around each brand on the road. “If you have a 2005 Camry with 45,000 miles in Emeryville, you will need advice on when you need typical repairs and where to go,” says Dunning. “You may have specific questions about Camrys. We build communities around each model.

“Not everyone loves their car,” Dunning adds. “But everyone has a relationship with their car.”

In addition to providing car-specific information, the site also provides editorial content that it is developing in-house, as well as syndicated content from Car and Driver, Road and Track, CNET and ZPinions. Its editorial leader is Jon Alain Guzik, Yahoo! Autos’ former editor in chief. User reviews and feedback are also being solicited. “We took a page from Yahoo! Answers,” says Dunning.

Dunning acknowledges that there are some similarities with other car sites, but he says DriverSide was uniquely developed and isn’t as oriented around enthusiast stuff or selling leads. Users are encouraged to do a variety of things on and off the site. “In our research, we found that the major sites are focused on helping you buy and sell. Once they get you in the funnel, they never want you to leave.”

But leads are a big part of the model, in addition to advertising. To Dunning, “the service leads are even more important than sales leads.” Relationships are being formed with local dealers, independent shops, parts and accessories vendors, and manufacturers. He also expects to sell ads to such auto ecosystem players as insurance companies, financial companies and oil companies.

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