Dorset Business Angels backs newly launched business

An innovative car dealing business launched in Bournemouth in September, is backed by Dorset Business Angels (DBA).

Honk Honk CEO Sebastien Duval, 40, is a Dorset born and bred local entrepreneur with significant experience in the car industry, who first pitched to DBA seven years ago.

The newly launched business aims to revolutionise car buying and selling across the UK using the Honk Honk marketplace to make selling your old car and buying a new one as “easy as any other online purchase”. It secured a DBA investment of £340,000 as part of an initial seed investment of £560,000.

DBA Chairman and Honk Honk lead investor Don McQueen said: “Sebastien is very easy to work with, he’s a great listener and never afraid to take advice from his angel investors and always doing so willingly. As a result, the relationship flourished and is a reason why we are prepared to invest again and bring on board a much larger team of angel investors.”

In 2003, Sebastien moved into car sales, working for ‘Wood of Bournemouth’, progressing to sales manager and then brand manager. In 2010, he studied for a master’s degree in strategic automotive retail management.

Seb comments, “I quickly learnt that there was far more to the automotive industry than selling cars on the shop floor. I co-founded my first business, AUTOi with Adam King and Mike Barnett, creating a dealer digital vehicle appraisal system, which we sold on to carwow in June 2021. We also created another brand in 2016, called Wizzle.

“It used the dealership technology for appraising vehicles, allowing the public to use and then sell back to the network of dealers that we had on AUTOi. Again, we sold out to carwow in 2021.

“At Honk Honk we decided that we wanted to go full end-to-end cycle, not only allowing the general public/consumers to sell their cars to dealers but also allowing dealers to sell their inventory back to the general public.

“We also arrange finance and provide buying and selling support and home collections and deliveries. We launched on 1st September 2023. The launch has been staggered, initially launching just the selling part of the journey of cars to dealers.

“We plan to launch the buying part of the journey (dealers to consumers) in January 2024.”

Sebastien added that Honk Honk intended to stay “as lean as possible”, get to profit ASAP, surround itself with an “outstanding and experienced” team and also have lots of fun. “Our ambition is to sell out in three years”.

Seb added “We launched with 5 staff, all co-founders, with 6 co-founders in total; Sales Director Louise, Chief Brand Office Mike, Ops Director Jim (soon to be my brother-in-law!), Paulo, Chief Technology Officer, and investor Adam King.

“We all worked together previously at Wizzle and AUTOi, get on really well, know and understand our different roles and motivate and inspire each other. We intend to end our first year of business with a team of 14 and aim to recruit locally, this is extremely important to us”.

He added that the level of trust built up with DBA was shown by the fact that “our original 3 investors are now part of the team of 11 in the most recent DBA investment”.

“As part of our recent seed investment, we raised £560,000, of which £340,000 was raised through DBA,” he explained.

Dorset Business Angels Network provide quality, private equity investment opportunities to local High Net Worth (HNW) and Sophisticated Investors (SI). DBA helps early-stage businesses find equity capital, particularly in the south of England, by connecting investors and entrepreneurs through its pitch events.

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