The following year, Blinker Inc. was born.
"I'm not a technology person so I had to make sure that I could find quality management that understood technology, understood lending and all the compliance issues to make this work," Buscher said. "The idea was there, but we had to put all the pieces together."
The result was Blinker — a mobile app for customers looking to buy, sell or refinance used vehicles without visiting a dealership. The app launched in 2016.
"Throughout my whole career I've always been thinking about how to be more transparent and more customer friendly, and this was just really an extension of that," Buscher said.
Still, Buscher said Blinker is not anti-dealer — it's "pro-consumer and pro-transparency," he said.
"We actually have a plan to help the customer and the dealer relationship where they can do everything over the phone, like we do privately" to reduce customers' time in the finance office, Buscher said.
Although the app is available for download nationwide, buying and selling through the app is permitted only in Colorado, Texas, California and Florida.
The company chose those states for "efficiency," Buscher said. Together, those states account for 30 percent of total U.S. new-vehicle registrations, according to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Buscher said the company is finalizing an agreement with Ally that would allow it to purchase Blinker's finance contracts.
"That'll allow us to expand more quickly throughout the country, because they've got a 50-state lending license," Buscher said.
It starts with a photo.
With the app's image recognition technology, users can stand six feet behind a car and snap a photo to receive details such as the year, make, model, approximate mileage, estimated value and most of the equipment on the vehicle.
After taking a photo of the car, users must upload a photo of their driver's license, which authorizes Blinker to do a soft credit pull to preapprove the user for financing.
Blinker also performs a fraud check to ensure the car has never been stolen and that it does not have a branded title.
"If you buy a car off Craigslist, typically the seller has to take the car to the bank or the credit union of the buyer so they can see the collateral," Buscher said.
"It's a difficult transaction. There's no verifications of the people or the car, so I wanted to bring all [of] that into one app."
Once the user comes up with a price — with the help of Blinker's pricing guidelines — the vehicle can be listed on the Blinker marketplace. "We push it out at no charge to other marketplaces like Craigslist, CarGurus, Autotrader, Cars.com, several of those places that we have relationships with," Buscher said. "Frankly, Blinker isn't well-known enough yet to drive a lot of traffic so the whole important thing for us is that we present your car to give it the best chance for it to sell."
When the seller decides on a price, Blinker immediately converts it into a monthly payment.
If a buyer chooses to pay in monthly installments, the seller still receives the payment in full through the platform's finance entity, Blinker Direct. Based on historical sales data and Black Book, Buscher said on a $14,000 car, sellers on average can make $2,900 more than if they were to trade it in at a dealership, while buyers are saving around $2,200.