Built by brothers who loved cars since they were children, Hidden Rides is the intelligent search engine for forum-listed cars. It’s the only website in the world that’s sole focus is on compiling forum car inventory. This platform is completely free and ideal place for any car enthusiast to begin their search.
AlleyWatch spoke with brothers Brian and Kevin about the process of creating a search engine for car enthusiasts.
Tell us about the product or service that Hidden Rides offers.
Hidden Rides is an intelligent search engine for forum-listed cars.
We automatically aggregate classified listings from auto enthusiast forums, so you can easily browse, search and discover private car sales.
The cars listed on Hidden Rides are typically only found on these forums and you won’t find them anywhere else.
How is Hidden Rides different?
Hidden Rides is the only website in the world that is solely focused on aggregating forum car inventory. We track hundreds of forums and add new listings daily.
The technology to make Hidden Rides was a monumental task. We use several combinations of apps, servers, and services. Under the hood, we use ElasticSearch (snappy quick search), image processing, and computer vision (e.g, detecting cars in images).
The most time-consuming task was creating the algorithms for scraping and parsing the unstructured forum data. We definitely consider that our secret sauce.
We are car guys and we understand first-hand the “enthusiast pain points” around online car shopping. For instance, for a car to be considered Manual, it must have a stick and 3 pedals – no exceptions (DCTs/PDKs aka “fake manuals” are categorized as Automatic). It’s stuff like this that makes the product useful to the community.
What market does Hidden Rides target and how big is it?
Auto Market: There are ~40M used cars sold in the US per year.
We are targeting potential buyers in the used car market, or car enthusiasts that just like to browse.
Our users are typically more cognizant of specific cars/features they want. For example, an average consumer might want a “Red Sports Car”, whereas an auto enthusiast is looking for a “1978 Ferrari 308 GT4 in Rosso Corsa”.
What is the business model?
The website is 100% free. We may run ads in the future, and/or release a commercial API.
What inspired the start of Hidden Rides?
My brother and I always loved cars (childhood bedroom wall was a collage of 90s sports cars), so naturally we spent a lot of our time browsing through car forums.
The idea was spurred by two things:
1) Inspiration: Missing out on a forum listed Oxford Green/Cinnamon E46 M3 6spd by only a few hours
2) Light Bulb Moment: Discovering an aggregation tool for other items (watches, etc) – we wanted to build a similar tool for car enthusiasts
After validating the product with a couple friends, forum members, etc – we decided to pull the trigger and do this thing.
What’s your favorite place to go for a drive in and around the city?
Taconic State Parkway.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
The reception from the car forums has been overwhelmingly positive so far, and we hope to keep spreading the word as much as possible.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Passion isn’t necessary to work on something, but it’s what keeps you going when you reach inevitable burnout.
If you could be put in touch with anyone who would it be and why?
Why did you launch in New York?
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?