The boss of private equity-backed automotive insights company Cazana has hailed machine learning as a force for good and said the business would not exist without the technology.

Tom Wood is founder and chief executive at Cazana, a searchable database that provides consumers with a free and instant valuation of all cars registered in the UK, plus details of mileage and results of MOT safety checks.

The London-based company uses big data, predictive analytics and machine learning to analyse millions of automotive transactions daily to assess the value and risk associated with every car.

“Our technology ‘reads the internet’ much like Google does and we recognise things like the price, mileage and images of vehicles and that allows us to work out what the vehicles are,” Wood told BusinessCloud.

“Not only do we give valuations of cars for free to customers, we’re also giving away a real, rich history of what’s happened to vehicles over time.

“Understanding the full history of what’s happened to a vehicle over time is a really powerful thing for a consumer to have in their hand.”

Founded by Wood in his garage in 2015, Cazana now boasts more than one million monthly visitors to its platform. The young company has also scooped $2.3m funding to date, with backers including Passion Capital.

The entrepreneur says that the business would not have been financially viable 10 years ago.

“It [machine learning] can overwhelmingly be a force for good,” he said.

“We’re reading tens of millions of classified ads around the world on a monthly basis and there’s no way that you can use enough people cost effectively to be able to do that.

“It’s a great example of where, 10 years ago, this business wouldn’t have been viable from a cost point of view.”

Wood insists that machine learning isn’t about removing jobs but rather about doing things that weren’t previously possible.

“In our case it’s about unlocking more value from the information that is out there – and that’s a really powerful application of machine learning.”

Wood says Cazana currently collects data from nine countries, with plans to grow that figure to 40 by the end of the year and tap into new markets as consumer demands continue to change.

Cazana’s machine learning systems are also used by manufacturers, finance companies, dealerships and insurers globally.

“We want stuff on-demand when we want it,” Wood said. “Gone are the days when you’re happy to buy a car and have it for 10 years, people want more choice and more flexibility.

“We’re seeing more and more consumers want to access a car rather than own it – and I think that’s a trend that will continue.”