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Thai-Indian Making Waves At Southeast Asia Online Car Marketplace Carro

Using technology to disrupt the automotive industry in Southeast Asia, Carro, an online car marketplace, has made a significant impact in the industry since it appeared four years ago.

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"I went from zero to 100 almost overnight," is what Manit Ghogar was quoted as saying in an article published by Northeastern University from where he graduated from in 2017. Manit heads Carro's Thailand business.

Using technology to disrupt the automotive industry in Southeast Asia, Carro, an online car marketplace, has made a significant impact in the industry since it appeared four years ago. The founders, led by CEO Aaron Tan, were motivated to start the company by their unfavourable experiences buying used cars in Singapore and the US.

They felt that there was no dealer or middleman in the in-market they could absolutely trust and therefore went about using data and technology to set-up an online marketplace for car buyers and sellers to deal directly with each other.

Their platform created transparency and had tools and services to give buyers and sellers peace of mind. At that time, it was a company that did something that no other did by addressing challenges that existed for decades in a fragmented market.

Carro, formed from the words "car" and "hero", offers end-to-end services for customers and removes the involvement of the middleman from the transaction thereby saving money for users of the platform.

Carro has been expanding fast. Besides helping their users buy and sell cars, Carro's services now include financing, insurance, warranty, workshop and roadside assistance. It has also built a fair-price evaluation tool called graph.sg and an accessories retail website called Carro Accessories. It also has an autobody workshop search app Carro Workshop and has recently launched on-demand vehicle trade-in auction marketplace called Carro Express. Just launched is also a car subscription scheme where users pay a monthly fee for using a car based on the hours of usage per day. This is especially beneficial for car users in Singapore who wish to have the convenience of a car but not keen to own one due to the expensive prices of cars in Singapore.

Last month, Carro announced the launch of a pay-as-you-drive car insurance product which allows car owners to pay for insurance based on the frequency of their car use. Those who do not use their cars very much will end up paying less for their car insurance.

They are also reported to be considering a bid for a digital banking license from the Singapore government. Part of their plans would be to use cloud-based platforms, big data and data science to provide SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) with digital-first banking experience.

So far, it is estimated the startup has raised over USD100 million. Its investors include SoftBank Ventures Asia, Dietrich Foundation, NCORE Ventures, Insignia Ventures, Hanwha Asset Management, B Capital Group, Singtel Innov8, Golden Gate Ventures and Alpha JWC.

Carro, which now operates in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, said they transacted more than USD500 million worth of vehicles on their platform last year. They facilitated sales of USD250 million worth of vehicles in 2017 and another USD120 million the year before.

Carro has been doing particularly well in Thailand, growing some 100 per cent in 2018via e-commerce channels including its website and mobile application.

Manit Ghogar who heads Carro's Thailand division is a third-generation Thai-Indian. Just six months after graduating with a degree in finance and economics, he was introduced to Carro by a Thai friend and fellow graduate of Northeastern University, Chainarin Pongpornprot. Despite the risks of joining a startup, Manit decided to take the plunge and has not looked back since.

In an interview published by his alma mater, he commented that the most rewarding aspect of the job is hearing first-hand from clients, especially those operating outside Bangkok, that they have seen a growth in their revenue after using Carro's services. At the same time, he is delighted to be working with many young people like himself in the early stages of their careers.

"Seeing the people who haven't come from this industry, but really are thriving, and being able to build something which hasn't been built before in the country, disrupting an industry which has been plagued with all sorts of issues for the past decade," he says of his staff of around 120 employees.

While a student interning in Bangalore, he worked for a software company where he crossed paths with entrepreneurs who claim they were building sustainable businesses but in reality, their companies did not solve problems or offer real value. This made him realise what he didn't want to be.

He says of the opportunity to be working at Carro that "it's definitely not what I expected coming out of college, but it was in line with the experiences that I was looking for--something that would throw me into the deep end, and allow me to learn to one day go off and become a better leader, become a better businessman." 

(ANI)


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