Putting Sellers in the Driver’s Seat: MotorTango Redefining the Process of Selling a Car

Traditionally, buying and selling a car has involved spending hours at a dealership. Even as platforms have emerged to simplify transactions, concerns of safety and security when meeting or sharing pertinent information with strangers loomed large.

Enter MotorTango. Launched by two women as the effects of COVID-19 persisted and ushered in an onslaught of innovation, the “seller-focused platform” provides peace of mind as an alternative to both the conventional process and the other technology-facilitated channels to connect buyers and sellers.

“MotorTango … allows our sellers to take back the driver’s seat when selling their car,” said Teri Ernst, who founded the Lincoln firm with Katie Pocras. “It’s safe, anonymous and sellers can easily compare multiple offers from multiple dealers in real time. So, they know they are getting the best price.”

As MotorTango puts it, the “mechanics are simple.” A private party lists a car for sale for free to verified dealers and remains anonymous until the sale is made. Dealers can also remain anonymous when making an offer.

“The response has been very positive,” said co-founder Pocras. “Dealers are buying cars and sellers are selling cars — often getting multiple offers.”

In fact, the leadership duo highlighted the problems that MotorTango solves on both sides of the buying-selling aisle.

“MotorTango allows sellers to skip the dealership, to remain anonymous and to make sure they are getting the best price as they compare multiple offers from multiple dealers,” Ernst explained. “Dealers love us, too. We provide [them] the opportunity to build inventory from the convenience of their phones. Plus, we verify every MotorTango seller. So, our dealers know that MotorTango listings are real and accurate.”

Katie Pocras, co-founder, MotorTango. (photography by Roger Humphries)
Katie Pocras, co-founder, MotorTango. (photography by Roger Humphries)

Dealers who partner with MotorTango, she continued, don’t spend large chunks of their budget on leads and sourcing, or waste time tracking those prospects down.

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“Our verified dealers only pay a fee if they buy a car,” Ernst stated.

The genesis for MotorTango can reportedly be traced back to 2021.

“We felt that there wasn’t a safe, hassle-free way to sell your car for the best price,” Ernst reinforced, when asked about the inception of the idea for what would become MotorTango. “You can sell your car to one dealer and receive one offer. Or, you can submit your car to an online site that broadcasts your contact information to multiple dealers who then hound you via text, email and phone.”

She stressed the safety issue.

“Selling your car on your own means paying for ads, allowing strangers to test-drive your car and handling large sums of money,” Ernst added.

A nod to its tagline, “take the lead,” she said consumers are empowered to do just that – safely selling their cars for the most favorable price in an online marketplace environment.

And, in addition to having real-time competition among dealers, Ernst indicated that sellers also benefit from built-in privacy and confidentiality.

“We never share sellers’ personal information unless an offer is accepted,” she said.

Teri Ernst, co-founder, Motortango
Teri Ernst, co-founder, Motortango

A Pleasant, Risk-Free Experience

Pocras recalled firsthand the trials and tribulations of the process, which were characterized as their “lightbulb moment” for the concept.

“When I wanted to sell my car, I had goals that were just not achievable in the current market,” she recalled. “I wanted to quickly and easily compare offers from multiple dealers to make sure I received the best price.”
Pocras said she, naturally, didn’t want to drive her car with a stranger, or have to worry about determining the validity of a cashier’s check or handling thousands of dollars in cash.

“Finally, I didn’t want to deal with an online marketplace that’s just going to sell my personal information and be bombarded with spam, scams, calls and emails,” she said. “I knew there had to be a better way.”
With the help of innovation funding in the form of a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Ernst said MotorTango was able to build its initial Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and complete beta testing with the assistance of local car dealerships.

“And, recently, [we] launched our final production release,” Ernst said in early June. “Car owners are using MotorTango to sell their cars and dealers are building inventory. Now, we are looking to the future.”
In fact, Ernst and Pocras plan to expand the concept regionally in 2024.

“And, eventually, to all 50 states,” Ernst said.

As improvements are made to the pilot program, launched initially in Nebraska and Iowa, the team’s status as a women-led startup in a very male-dominated auto category has not been lost on them.

“We are passionate about building a company that allows sellers to take charge,” she said. “And we think it’s great that our platform just so happens to remove biases for women or anyone else who has felt taken advantage of when selling or buying a car.”

The entrepreneurs encouraged the business community to check out, register and try the platform when they’re ready to sell their cars. Set-up is clear and simple under “login” on the company’s website. Readers can then choose from respective seller or dealer registration sign-ups.

“MotorTango is completely free for our sellers,” Ernst added. “Right now, sellers can even make money using MotorTango.”

As part of their summer promotion, MotorTango registrants receive $100 when their car is sold on the platform.

Website: Motortango.com