Stroll into a car dealership and you might just walk out with a lacklustre financing deal. Even worse, you could apply for finance and wait weeks, only to find out you’ve been turned down – adding a negative mark to your credit report for years to come.

That’s exactly what happened to Scott Montarello, who had just started a new job in 2017 and couldn’t be approved for financing for exactly that reason. But he didn’t know that, and neither did the employee at the dealership. That disconnect inspired Montarello and William Brown to start Driva in 2019.

“We realised it’s a super clunky manual process for most consumers trying to get financed through a dealership,” says Brown. “The combination of the [personal] customer experience [Scott] had and the industry experience we had through our jobs is what led us to quit our jobs and tackle the car finance market.”

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Just four years later, Driva has a staff of 65 in Australia and close to two dozen overseas. Brown and Montarello knew each other from their time at the University of Western Australia a decade prior, and they consolidated their respective experiences in investment banking and consulting to create a smooth digital platform that matched car loan seekers with the right lenders. There’s no annoying wait and no lingering credit blemish either.

“For customers who are eligible, we’ll tell them exactly which lenders are going to give them the best rate,” Brown says. “Then they can apply seamlessly through our online platform, which will then share information with the chosen lender once we’re confident they will be approved.”

It’s essentially like a mortgage broker for car loans. Brown drew directly on his stint in investment banking, working with lenders and insurance companies in the financial services industry. The idea was there, but the pair needed a workplace to really allow the business to blossom. Enter Desk Space, the Darlinghurst co-working space that offers a nurturing hub for growing tech startups and all manner of other fledgling business concepts.

“We worked out of Scott’s spare bedroom for as long as we could,” Brown says. “We checked out a bunch of different spaces and found many of them to be a bit corporate and not as flexible. That’s when we stumbled across Desk Space, which was quite boutique.”

Moving into Desk Space’s multi-tiered facilities after Driva scored its first customer, Brown and Montarello were joined by Viktor Shlapkin, now head of engineering. In the new office, the team grew from three to around 30 in less than three years, making organic connections and creating community with fellow companies. Driva enlisted the talents of website developers Woolly Mammoth and other small businesses also working at Desk Space, partnerships that were made possible from working side by side in the space.

“The team at Desk Space made an effort to always put social functions on,” says Brown. “It’s a cliche that you join a startup because you’ll meet all these people who help you out and that’s how the ecosystem grows. I wasn’t sure how much I believed it before that, but we definitely got some benefit out of it.”

Now Driva works out of its own office space in Surry Hills, but it wasn’t without its challenges – especially moving out of a hub with so many benefits.

“You always dream of having your space,” he says, “but you don’t realise the complexities of having to run your own office until you’re doing it yourself. It’s expensive, we’re locked in for three years and we had to fit everything out ourselves. Then you have to make sure the toilet paper is stocked and the internet is working. It’s ultimately worth it if you’re at the right size, but co-working places like Desk Space are a great solution before that.”

As Driva has grown, the company has naturally evolved to encompass personal loans, commercial car loans, refinancing, auto insurance and more. And it’s not just cars that Driva assists with financing for, but motorbikes, caravans, trucks and even tractors. Basically, anything with wheels.

Despite the growth, the team’s drive has stayed the same: to prevent any more horror stories like the one Montarello had to endure before taking matters into his own hands.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Desk Space.