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Sean Pour started as a self-taught 14-year-old programmer and now, at the age of 25, his own technology helps his successful auto-purchase service SellMax.
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It’s easy to imagine 25-year-old San Diego, Californian Sean Pour telling his journey during a well-attended Ted Talk. Pour, who developed water separation technology for his car purchasing company, SellMax, built his company out of need. “I started working on the company (SellMax) when I was 14,” Pour explains. “I chose to buy cars because it is an industry that I grew up with. My parents had a second-hand car dealer, and they were completely homemade. The most important contribution to creating this technology and becoming a business owner was helping my family. “When I was 14, our family struggled with the economic crisis. We needed a competitive advantage – we didn’t sell enough cars. So my answer to this problem was to set up the company, which eventually became SellMax. ”
He added, “No one in my family is technically minded. Although my parents were enterprising, I think this ultimately sparked my interest in becoming a ‘maker’, and tech was my way of getting there.”
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Break apart to teach yourself code. “I always enjoyed spending my time on computers, but I had no coding experience. At the time there were not so many good sources, but with a lot of trial and error I learned HTML, CSS, then PHP and MySql.
“I would spend my evenings writing simple programs and then connecting to databases and learning how to build bigger things,” he recalled. “I decided to study CS in my final year of high school. I originally attended engineering courses. When my business started to grow, computer science seemed the most useful to manage growth. As a result, I thought I had good programming education. ”
Start of SellMax
Even before Pour finished high school, the seeds of SellMax were planted. “I made the idea for the technology relatively early,” he said. “It was something I knew it would streamline the company, but it was complicated to handle and find such a large amount of data. But I couldn’t respond and get a demo until I was about 17 “
Finally, Pour became a competent programmer and graduated from San Diego State University (SDSU) with a degree in computer science while running the business – not an easy task. Pour also studied marketing ‘religious’.
“Although coding was very important for the company, marketing was just as important,” he said. “I started taking what I learned from marketing and combining that with technology, and it was the winning combination for us. This led to the company’s own technology that runs the business.”
CS lessons applied
Pour has learned several important concepts at SDSU. Here is how he explained it: “For example, I learned how to write code that scales. What I mean by this is that much of the code that I was writing earlier was easy to understand by myself. But if I had someone else questions to help I would have no idea what was going on with the project, so I updated the code using the appropriate naming conventions and added code comments so that any competent developer could work on the code. think of me as a big organization.
“Second, studying computer science has enabled me to have conversations with other developers,” he continued. “In the past I didn’t understand many industry terms. By being able to talk to others, I was able to expand my knowledge considerably and paradigm shifts could take place.
Finally, it gave me the confidence to know that the code I was writing was good enough to push out. ”
All these concepts play a role at SellMax today.
“There are many moving parts in the industry and our technology helps to solve these problems,” Pour said. “We have to come up with an offer that is fair to pay a customer. When dealing with thousands of customers, it is difficult to pay a lot of attention to each individual car.”
Pour turned to tech to speed up his car purchase service. He “built a scoring algorithm,” he explained, “when a customer enters the car-related information, we give it a score. We then have a database that stores all previous auction data for a current vehicle in certain regions.” When we use this data, we are able to predict a fair price, usually, and it is ultimately profitable for us.Of course, with automation there are times when we lose, we just want a higher percentage of the time. We have built several other custom systems and technology for our company. “
Pour said that his patented technology differs from potential competitors in that: “We have dozens of data on used car sales. We have a lot of proprietary data that we obtain from various sources,” he said. “This data is important, but we have also developed a formula that has proven to work for us a significant part of the time. So, for example, if we buy hundreds of cars a month, and we win a high percentage of most of the time – think 70% – the losses don’t really matter“
Pour has put together a network of thousands of local providers that are synchronized with the technology. “Building this network took years,” he said. “Moreover, it has streamlined our process and we can usually pick up vehicles on the same day, even within a few hours.
“Finally, we use ACH via line to pay our local providers. So we don’t have to spend countless hours making payments. So all payouts happen automatically.”
SellMax is in contact with 7,000 customers per month and buys around 4,200 vehicles with the developed tech Pour. He estimates that by the end of 2020 he will purchase around 6,000 vehicles per month.
The future of car buying
Pour predicts little change in the automotive purchasing industry in the coming decade, but admits that the industry is “certainly growing fast.”
Moreover, Pour has closely monitored self-driving cars, for which he is ‘a little concerned’. Although he is prepared to become relatively popular, he predicts that “car ownership will be a much smaller percentage,” because “Uber and Lyft can give great deals if no people are involved.”
Pour is currently finalizing a lead management SAAS with the aim of making the public known.
“If there is one thing that the economic crisis has taught me, it is always to be prepared,” he said. “I feel that our company will be able to run and thrive on whatever the future has to offer.”
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