By Mark A. Diaz
A local startup revved up a social media based platform for automotive enthusiasts. Motoroso built a website (motoroso.com) that helps gearheads plan, develop and share their automotive projects. The innovative company gathers shops, parts and like-minded users into one place to help them achieve their mechanical dreams. The name comes from a combination of “motor” and the Spanish word for love “amoroso.”
“The goal is to connect content, community, and commerce under one platform,” said Alex Littlewood, founder, CEO and automotive enthusiast.
For Littlewood, the love for all things motorized began when he was a boy. At 8-years-old, he and his dad built an airplane in their garage and flew it around the county. The idea for Motoroso came while he was working with startups in Silicon Valley dealing with social media marketing technologies. He wanted to design a platform for car enthusiasts that combined the social sharing aspect of Facebook and the online shopping convenience of Amazon. He sold his house to fund the early days of the company.
“The automotive industry – something I’m really passionate about – was desperate for something like this,” said Littlewood. “I started poking around and looking around and literally no one was really doing it.”
The website is designed to provide interactive content through connecting peers in the community and allow users to purchase products, upload photos and videos and share ideas and experiences. The site also allows users to tag engine parts with name and manufacturer information.
Since its inception in 2015, Motoroso has gathered 350 official brand profiles and more than 60,000 photos. In 2017, the company was named the official interactive content platform for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held annually in Detroit and provided NAIAS and SEMA Shows with interactive content via touchscreen.
Motoroso was chosen to participate in the Techstars program. The firm is an accelerator that provides mentoring and between $6,000 and $18,000 of seed funding on average to tech startups. Inc.com, digital magazine to help business startups, reported that less than one percent of applicants are accepted into the program. Introduced through Techstars, Motoroso also partnered with the Ford Motor Company who provided them with a mustang showcase car.
The startup was one of the first companies to run a crowdsource funding campaign under Title III of the Jump Start Our Business (JOBS) Act that offers early stage businesses the opportunity to sell small bits of its equity to the public. Littlewood said that the company ran a very successful Wefunder campaign, something traditionally tricky for web-based and app products. Different from product purchasing or angel investment businesses such as Kickstarter, Wefunder provides investors with the opportunity of earning a return on their investment.
Originally from Northern California, Littlewood relocated his business to San Luis Obispo and is now participating in the SLO HotHouse’s 2-year incubator program. The business building program is part of Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) that partners with startups and provides them with infrastructure, resources and mentors to encourage growth. Included in the program are monthly peer-to-peer roundtable discussions, an advisory board for each startup in the program, participation in pitch nights, networking opportunities and exclusive access to various entrepreneurial events in the community, according to its website.
Later this year, the company plans to take on retail giants such as Amazon and E-Bay by providing a platform designed specifically for motor enthusiasts to purchase aftermarket goods. The Motoroso Marketplace’s goal is to make a one-stop shop for all things automotive by connecting part and accessory providers directly to the customers which allows the site to collect a percentage of the cost while never having to handle inventory directly.
“When it goes live, the Motoroso Marketplace will be the first and only dedicated automotive parts and accessory marketplace in the world,” said Littlewood.