NCM Associates wants to ease car dealers' pain when it comes to vetting startup vendors while also helping to get innovative products to market faster by launching NCM Labs.
NCM Labs is NCM's version of the popular TV show "Shark Tank."
"A group of NCM experts and our dealer clients will vet startups and decide if we will help incubate these groups into the industry," NCM Associates CEO Paul Faletti told Automotive News.
NCM, a Kansas City, Mo., company that runs 20 groups and offers dealership consulting, expects to launch NCM Labs by about the end of April.
NCM Labs will sort through startup vendor applications and select finalists that offer what Faletti calls "groundbreaking" services and products. Too often, Faletti said, many "potentially disruptive technologies" do not make it to market because of poor exposure and the high cost to attend trade shows. Also, many dealers do not have the time or resources to properly sort through the slew of startups that come before them.
"NCM Labs will serve as an innovation clearinghouse, providing the vetting and industry support these newcomers need," Faletti said.
Here's how it will work.
Vendors will submit applications at no charge by e-mail to NCM Labs at [email protected]
NCM's staff and some of its selected dealer clients will choose about 10 vendor applications a year. After presentations and questions, two to three finalists will be selected each year. NCM will provide the finalists with product feedback, promotion and capital, Faletti said.
Faletti said NCM may expand beyond two or three finalists a year, but he wants to "start small, think big" initially.
"We don't have unlimited resources, so we want to make sure we give the time and resources appropriate and deserved," Faletti wrote in an email. "If we find that we can scale and take on more in any given year, we will."
In the meantime, NCM plans to introduce "real industry innovators" that "even at two to three per year could drive significant change," Faletti said.
If a startup would better benefit from the guidance of another organization within the auto industry, he said, NCM will make the introductions to the industry leaders who could help.
NCM Labs is free for all dealers to access, Faletti said.
"The overall idea here is to make sure that innovative products and services that benefit dealers have a shot at coming to market, are the right products and services with the dealer-industry expert input," Faletti said. And that those ideas "get to market faster."