An alternative to AutoTrader – Localised used car adverts



Wheels-Near-U was a car classifieds marketplace web portal and my first real business. We pivoted several times including into dropshipping, dealership websites, and printing. Ultimately this project was the breeding ground for all of the key skills which helped me in future businesses.

As part of learning how to dominate SEO for WNU I built a 250 site empire, which went on to generate revenues for 10 years thereafter.
Status: Archived
Updated: December 19th 2007

How did Wheels-Near-U come about?

Wheels Near U was my first proper attempt at a public market web app. I knew PHP and SQL fairly well, and had been using WordPress for a few years. I started this company with my dad in 2007.

Buying used cars in 2007 was different to todays experience. At that point people mostly advertised locally, or via AutoTrader (in UK), which was a regionally based advertisement magazine which was great in some ways but in rural places fell short because the distances between catchments was massive. This meant you might see a car in the magazine but it would be an hour or two hours drive away.

We made a website collecting all local ads, allowing users to buy ads, and letting buyers search by postcode, and see distances to each vehicle.

How did it go?

In short, we didn’t find product-market fit and closed the project down. The 250 site SEO empire that was built to fuel it via SEO remained for over a decade though, paying out ad and affiliate revenue.

We did rank 1st in the world for Modified Cars, and other terms, for a sustained period.

We got a decent website up, I built it from scratch using PHP/JS. We dabbled in publishing a magazine. We built garage/dealership website offerings and sold a handful of garage website packages. We dropshipped monkey bikes and other driving related items. Fundamentally I look back at this first real business as a great experience. I got to work alongside my dad, learn lots from him and with him. He largely funded the project, which ended up being the training ground for almost all of my technological wins thereafter; and for that I’m very thankful.

Things I learned

  • Full production of large-scale site from scratch
  • Interesting geo code to discern distances between points
  • Hand-coded checkouts
  • Programmatic SEO & Scraping (Generated huge directory/pages from car insurance and local service providers databases)
  • Importance of cashflow and finances in bootstraped start-ups
  • Selling in person
  • Dropshipping
  • Ads & Affiliate sales
  • Challenges of real-life shipping and printing businesses

Let’s make mad sh*t.

I’ve made a lot of things in my life, and I intend to make a lot more. My biggest goal is to make a good and happy life.

Join my journey to authentic autonomy; let’s make craft software make money!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Powered by Project Pages