Ibrahim Mesbah and Andreas Ronneseth graduated from Arizona State University and, together, are changing the way people are buying and selling auto parts. In 2014, the pair co-founded RevolutionParts after talking with a mutual friend who worked in the parts department of a local Phoenix new car dealership. Through this friend, they discovered the surprising challenges customers had when trying to place an order for auto parts through the parts department, and the complex process the parts department had to go through to fulfill those orders. Not only did many dealerships not sell their parts online, but those that did had a complicated buying process based on outdated legacy platforms. Having spent the past few years working together at PayPal, they knew they could help their friend out by simplifying the ordering processes and creating a better buying experience for customers. The RevolutionParts platform allows dealers to easily integrate several selling channels into a single dashboard.
Mesbah and Ronneseth quit their jobs at PayPal and began working with other local dealerships to help them sell more auto parts online. The pair would visit local dealerships to get oil changes in hopes of speaking with the parts manager. This would allow them to show how effective their solution was, talk directly with their customers, and listen to their concerns — a practice they would continue to follow.
This practice proved to be effective, as they found more dealers ready to join. It became apparent that if Mesbah and Ronneseth wanted to continue to put their customers first and keep expanding, they needed to hire support. They also needed to find someone to help them broaden their reach to acquire more customers outside their local market. “We decided to hire our first employees. We hired someone to do support, development and marketing soon after. This brought in even more leads, and from there, we began to grow very quickly,” says Ronneseth.
Fast forward to 2021, and RevolutionParts is shaking up the way people buy and sell OEM (original equipment manufacturer) auto parts online across North America. Today, RevolutionParts has 95 employees and has partnered with 1,500 dealers. Mesbah and Ronneseth did this by being customer-focused more than anything else. They listened to what wasn’t working for the biggest dealers, knowing that the smaller dealers would be struggling with the same issues. This helped them better understand what problems dealers faced and how they could provide a better solution. “A lot of our success has been market-driven, but what has made the biggest difference is listening to our customers and allowing them to drive our roadmap to success,” Mesbah states.
From its beginning, RevolutionParts has seen tremendous growth, but the most significant challenge occurred at the start of the pandemic. Like most businesses, RevolutionParts experienced a hard hit as dealerships across the United States began to see a sharp decline in business. “When the pandemic hit, it created a lot of uncertainty in the business, and we had to find a way to keep everything running,” says Ronneseth.
The pandemic put the company in a challenging situation, as all deals came to a halt and dealers began asking to cancel their subscriptions. Suddenly, the company was faced with difficult decisions neither Mesbah nor Ronneseth could have predicted. “We had to let employees go. It was the hardest decision we’ve ever made but, fortunately, that layoff wasn’t permanent. We were able to bring some of our employees back and learn how to navigate unpredictable times by planning for the worst-case scenario. This prepared us to start ramping back up within the next three months,” says Mesbah.
Dealers who stayed on with RevolutionParts saw an increase in parts sales and hit record highs, despite the initial impact of the pandemic. “We were able to help dealerships stay in business during an economic downturn that was unavoidable,” says Ronneseth.
The success of these dealers also helped land two major accounts. In the last nine months, RevolutionParts launched online sales and marketing solutions for Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis (the owner of well-known brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat). The company’s relationships with large manufacturers have been years in the making, and Mesbah and Ronneseth wanted to prove their solution could provide a better experience for their customers than other legacy providers in the industry. Their opportunity to truly innovate in parts e-commerce came as the pandemic hit. More dealers began adopting various e-commerce solutions to combat the drop in business and RevolutionParts proved to be the most compelling solution available.
Going forward, Mesbah and Ronneseth hope to expand their business globally to partner with more dealerships, auto group groups and manufacturers.
A Better Platform
When RevolutionParts came on the scene, dealers trying to sell online relied on legacy platforms that made the buying process unnecessarily complicated. It would take multiple steps to find a part and process an order, often taking the consumer from one website to another. RevolutionParts improved the way people were able to search for their parts and process their orders. This resulted in dealers tripling and quadrupling their conversions.
- More than 6.1 million parts and accessories have been sold through RevolutionParts since its start in 2014.
- More than $16 billion in auto parts was sold online in 2020.
- Despite the pandemic, dealers selling online with RevolutionParts grew revenue by 27% in 2020.