You shouldn’t have to be a Top Gear fanatic to find the perfect car or you.

That’s the message from Alastair Campbell, founder of Nottingham-based Carsnip, which is the UK’s largest used car search engine and lists more second hand cars than Auto Trader.

Carsnip was recently featured on BusinessCloud's 101 Tech Start-Up Disrupters list and Campbell says he launched the business after being unable to easily search for the car he wanted.

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“It’s simple really,” he says. “I had a second child and wanted to buy a seven-seater car to pick up my parents and so on.

“It’s really hard to do because if you’re a non-petrolhead  try finding out which cars have seven seats. It seems to entail doing far too much work and I didn’t have a clue.

“The only way to find out was to go to a newsagents and buy four magazines and then read them all and find yourself more confused – most magazines are aimed at other car people.”


Carsnip was recently featured on BusinessCloud's 101 Tech Start-Up Disrupters list

Campbell used the business model from his previous start-up – financial and credit checking website Company Check – which was free for small businesses to sign up to.

“We’d built this search facility because quite often you don’t know the exact company name or couldn’t spell it, so we built a search engine that pretty much took care of that kind of stuff – a Google for companies basically,” he says.

“Carsnip was the same premise – why can’t I just go to a search engine and type in ‘seven seats, black, £20,000’ or ‘cheap hatchback’?

“Why do I have to know about cars – why do I have to care?”

Campbell says you’ll never see a Lamborghini video on Carsnip’s website because it’s too niche and aimed at a small market.

“The biggest part of our differentiator is that we’re applying what most of the market wants as opposed to the other way roundm” he explains. “It doesn’t seem to make any sense to me.”

This simplicity will also be key to Carsnip’s future plans, says Campbell.

“The next six months we’re keeping two things to focus on. It’s about starting to generate more revenue and build as best a search engine as we can for the consumers.

“The two things align very well and that’s our focus really – sign up customers and provide an awesome consumer experience. Keep it simple, all the time.”