AI marketing start-up AutoLeadStar is helping small businesses fight corporate monopolies

CEO Aharon Horwitz is dedicated to promoting social impact through business; AutoLeadStar aims to do so by aiding local car dealerships.

 utoLeadStar's co-founders (left to right): Chief of Product Eliav Moshe, CEO Aharon Horwitz, CTO Yishai Goldstein (photo credit: MICHA PAUL)
utoLeadStar's co-founders (left to right): Chief of Product Eliav Moshe, CEO Aharon Horwitz, CTO Yishai Goldstein
(photo credit: MICHA PAUL)

Aharon Horwitz is the co-founder and CEO of AutoLeadStar, a platform which provides AI-powered marketing automation technology to auto dealerships and manufacturers.

Earlier this month, AutoLeadStar closed a $40 million growth financing round, and has consistently grown revenue by over 100% year-over-year.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Horwitz elaborated on his desire to bring social change through technology.

“[In the early 00’s,] my business partner Ariel Beery and I were really interested in how social impact can also be driven by web technologies. And I felt like the start-up space was very active in the business sense, but no one was thinking about how to help youth at risk using technology, or how to build start-ups that are trying to solve community needs using the technology that was becoming available to everyone,” Horwitz said.

That led you to co-found PresenTense, a social impact organization which is still running successfully — but you’re no longer its CEO. 

What made you decide to leave your company for something new?

“I was really interested in moving on from that organization because I felt like it was time to pass on the leadership. I wanted to do something very local, I wanted to start a start-up that would build jobs out of Jerusalem.”

And that led you to create AutoLeadStar. Why the focus on the auto industry?

“[My co-founders and I] thought it would be really interesting to give tools to small medium businesses, which were at a disadvantage compared to giant corporations. One of our advisers at the time kept saying to us ‘Listen, if you guys want to impact small and medium businesses, the auto industry is where you need to go.’

Car dealerships employ millions of people across the United States. They’re rooted in local communities. They’re answerable to those local communities. They pay really good salaries for people who [don’t necessarily have higher education]. And they’re dying for modern technology.”

What exactly is the risk posed to these dealerships?

Capitalism can have negative side effects around how it squeezes down labor. For example, when you look at scaled monopolies like Walmart or companies of that ilk, what you see is that the way that they’re bringing savings to the customer is just trying to squeeze out every dollar along the supply chain and also on the labor chain. On the one hand, you say, well, that’s great for consumers, right? On the other hand, it has a lot of negative effects on social fabric and on people’s social mobility and their ability to earn a living.

“Capitalism can have negative side effects around how it squeezes down labor. For example, when you look at scaled monopolies like Walmart or companies of that ilk, what you see is that the way that they're bringing savings to the customer is just trying to squeeze out every dollar along the supply chain and also on the labor chain."

Aharon Horwitz

“It’s very clear that if [these dealerships] don’t have top-tier technology to compete, they’re going to end up being outwitted by all the big monopolies. And so our whole approach is that we want to fight for them and give them the tech to be successful in maintaining their businesses.”

To date, AutoLeadStar has raised $57m., and currently employs about 100 people, most of them in its development centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its platform is used by nearly 1,000 dealerships throughout the US and Canada.