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In this episode of the our podcast Banking & Beyond catch Amit Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, CarDekho in a conversation with Rajeev Ahuja, Executive Director, RBL Bank as he takes us through his exciting entrepreneurial journey of building CarDekho. Listen in to know, how a car search portal has pivoted to being a fullstack auto-tech company.


Transcript:

Rajeev Ahuja

Hey, Amit, hi. First of all, thank you for agreeing to be a part of our web series, called Power Conversations. And this is with founders who’ve built are building some fascinating businesses. I’m, I won’t exaggerate. But three years ago when we were introduced, and I’ve spent a lot of time understanding what you are doing a little bit about your journey, I’ve always had this bug in me to somehow get you onto this platform, and not just talk about the success and the potential size of CarDekho group. But also share with our listeners or viewers, some of the unique insights which prompted CarDekho, your journey of 13 years, I’m sure there’s lots for us to digest, in what you’ve seen as your ups and downs. And as you see where you are today, how this pans out? And then we’ll take some questions, what you shared. And I’ll come back to you with a little bit more sharper things on your elaboration. So this is what we’re going to do. But I’m very glad to have you. And I think I I’m a total fan of what you’re building, and love to have the viewers understand what really went into Amit and your brother Anurag’s head, you guys we’re engineers, you work in IT company. And then somewhere you said, let’s look at CarDekho. What was the spark? And the genesis of that which led to it?

Amit Jain

Thanks for having me over Rajeev, firstly, you know, we’ve been talking about our businesses for three years. CarDekho the way or the current avatar you see, actually, you know, has evolved over a period of time. If I take you back to 2007, when I started with Anurag, my brother, it was a very different universe, there was no startup world back then. The things did not start with CarDekho, I will be frank, and the thing was around my father, actually was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. And me and my brother were working in Bangalore back then. And my family used to live as a joint family in Jaipur. So I came back to serve my family. And that’s how Girnar was born. Girnarsoft is the company name. We started with, like, Microsoft, right? Soft is big, Microsoft is big, right? So let’s make Girnarsoft, our house name and Girnar is also a temple of Jains. That’s how the name, genesis is. So, Girnarsoft it began the day one, I still remember that Rajeev. I think one big thing that happened was ambition, when you start day one, me and my brother, our LinkedIn profiles, you know, saying that we’ll build a billion dollar company, two kids, with no infrastructure resources, sitting literally out of our garage, it was a garage company that we started. And coming this far was big dream. But I think what I realized in life is if you aspire to dream big, you probably end up building, as a software company, we realized we would not be able to kind of get to a billion because it would require so many people to be hired lot of resources, let’s just pick up something which is basically more easy to do with current technology and consumer touch. Because then you don’t have to build a large, you know, manpower factory, if you were to do outsourcing, we started our outsourcing firm. And then me and my brother, both like cars, and we both went to Auto Expo in 2008. And we saw a lot of cars and we were planning to buy one at that point. I still remember the first year profits. We bought a BMW three series and gifted it to our grandfather back then in 2008. So that is when we visited Expo to search for car and then we went online and you know, started Googling around the you know, cars that he saw, he couldn’t find much we can do the gap. And that’s what inspired us to form CarDekho. We came back with all the catalogs in the boot of the car. And then we actually punched the catalog into our database and the site live in like seven days, that was the first version of card only specs, nothing else. And we, started getting some traffic, because people like us were also looking around, back then. And that was the genesis of CarDekho, it started with our own need frankly, of searching information, got this into the ecosystem of cars in 2008. We are not quite, not like most startups that you would have seen in India, we basically did not start this for raising money. We didn’t even know what raising money as the concept was in 2007, nobody used to raise money if you go back in time in India. Hamne kuch banaya tha, khud ka dhandha karne ke liye, we wanted to build a good business, we wanted to make both ends meet, we had home loans, EMIs to pay for in Bangalore. So we basically started this business to make money and we made money every single year, we did not lose money any year, 2007 to 2013, every single year was a profitable year. And, we learnt the art of innovation, what happens when when you have constrained resources Rajeev. I realize I know the equation flows more freely. Because when you’re constrained on, you know, manpower when you’re constrained on people, and you’re constrained on money, you think differently. So what happened was the constraints made CarDekho happen, because we realized we’re opening a b2c site, and we don’t have money to spend on marketing, to get consumers on the site. We became, the big rockstars of SEO, big rockstars of social media, big rockstars of how to get free traffic. That’s what basically, made CarDekho happen. we call that innovation that we did was around how to get eyeballs without spending a dime.

Rajeev Ahuja

I want to ask you this question. And, you are young, you’re much younger then and most of the entrepreneurs of that era, were focused on consumer apps. He may, you know, I’ll build this b2c magic. And I’ll do this and I’ll subsidize x y Z. And that’s the nothing wrong in that if you can model I mean, everybody needs to invest to create some scale and traffic. And here you were taking a very traditional offline, substantially offline transactions happening only offline, car or an automobile and trying to create something of digital business eventually out of it. I mean, that would have felt quite odd right. Auto trade in the US has got perhaps 10-15 years more history than you, I think they are the first .com era. I think we are following with let’s say 10-15 years now we are catching up so, you this was to me actually one of the few ones who actually took a very different route to building new business. Didn’t it strike you, that Mujhe bhi consumer business karna chaiye, mujhe bhi fancy consumer payments b2c app karni chaiye?

Amit Jain

Really, Rajiv, he never were in a car transaction, I’ll just give you a real journey. We never sold cars, we were a research platform. So we started B2C only, we had a very popular site. And we were not in to buying or selling cars at all, what you see today, buying selling is a new initiative. I’m when I go back to 2007 to 2013, we were just a site which had a lot of traffic, and we would make a lot of money by digital advertisements Google would put or will get from manufacturers to display their cars and leads on our platform, and the leads would be sold to these dealers. Right That’s that was a model back then, in 2013. We were only online and like there was no brick and mortar at all. We were a software company, an IT company. But you know what happens in IT company like mine, like ours, the biggest difference is your brain is the only investment and the laptop, because you’re coding yourself, I was still coding in 2013. And my brother was coding and we had a young team around us. And we would code our own site and make a daily release and I used to I tell my team, we’re surrounded by funded players like Carwale was funded, Zigwheels was Times group. Gaadi was Nasper’s, CarTrade was another group funded by Tiger Global. So, what I used to tell the team was, why are we gonna win against all these 100 players because we’ll change the site daily mean we learn daily, and we’ll have more chances to fail as opposed to only solid players who maybe amongst the release right now. So our genesis was that even if you’re able to evolve faster, you’ll eventually win because you’re learning faster and the money doesn’t matter. So it’s your brain power that matter. So that’s the genesis of Girnar ethos, can you be fast, fail fast and learn fast. If you can do that you will eventually win.

Rajeev Ahuja

You started Cardekho in 2007 – 2008 and your first formal investment, or first investment was in 2013?

Amit Jain

Yeah, and when the investment happened, we had like a 20 crore, a group profit, when we picked the first, funding, right? So that’s how the company, has been a very true to business DNA kind of a company, it was never made to, burn money or pick money. And then I’ll tell you also, the reason why we picked money later, but we had been number one in traffic from 2010 to 2013. Right, and we were, getting attention of investors, and we were getting term sheets of couple of million dollars, from starting 2010 from various VC funds, I’m not going to name them because I did not take their term sheet. I was getting term sheets from everyone. And there was a choice, you know, and me and my brother would discuss, paper mein naam ayega, let’s pick up the money. My brother would always say look, they’re trusting you, they’re trusting us to take a couple of million. And we have more than that in the bank. Let’s just trust ourselves and let’s not dilute. So we just kept chugging along between 2010 to 2013 with our own money. In 2012-13, something different happened we got a foreign investor’s attention and there to it, in America, and, you know, or Garfield in Australia. They’re scouting around India to find out assets, you know, what sort of scene in Indian so I got invited to Atlanta to meet back then the founder of Auto Trader US, Chip Perry. And, you know, I saw a $10 billion auto platform online auto platform, based out of Atlanta first time, and I realized, how big it can be. And that’s what inspired me, to come back and build something larger in India. I still remember, how awed I was with what I saw in Atlanta, and then, I started getting a little bit of more global context to read on what’s happening on Auto Online orders. That’s when we actually truly started CarDekho honestly.

Rajeev Ahuja

You were mentioning your first capital raise institutional no angel before that, self funded profitable, what drove you raise money? And what was that you saw in your first five, six years of development that gave you that, that now my ambitions can be far larger? And what did you do with the money and what did CarDekho become after that?

Amit Jain

CarDekho basically, once we raised the capital, the dream suddenly began to have a bigger platform with a 75 Crore in bank back then, the dollar still 45-50 back then, with that kind of money it was insane, I still remember the day it hit our bank, I was running in the office. As a kid, you haven’t seen that kind of capital. So, what that change was, that suddenly the plans became more ambitious, which required more capital, building a large team of front building investing, and product technology upfront for a larger vision. As an entrepreneur was working on it with his own money, with his capital cycles, he could not even think of investing upfront on things, they all had to be profitable to pay salaries next month, right. So what I realized was suddenly, the founder was suddenly thinking different and they were seeing the bigger picture on what it can become. So with that vision, we started building a used car business and hired, a big team on a used car channel side to work with our dealers. That was the first big relationship we took to get deep into used cars, we were already good at new cars. We started investing in our enterprise business further and to deepen our relationship with the new car OEM & new car dealers heavy, we are not like your own factory right? We are a people factory, major investment will be always in people. Two years out, one year out of the fundraise. We then started to think about brand building, how can we be top of mind to people which was earlier not the priority but with this kind of money, we planned our TV campaign for the first time I still remember that day, as a kid you would look at TV and think, there’s a big brand that comes on TV, seeing your own brand was, I felt like, man, this is insane. So, we invested in brand building to basically get in top of mind of consumers and people and we saw immediate results, people were searching CarDekho now. And just to give you a context, 90% of car buyers in India go through our platform before they buy a car today. So that was very critical, to invest in right places where you could get the returns long term. It was not a short term approach now like performance today, I was hoping for amortized brand build. Third thing we started doing was, we started building insurance and finance business, we invested heavy in product technology. We already had a channel team that met channel dealers, we realize there was insane opportunity laying out there, the new car finance is, around 75%, finance, bikes, 40- 50% bikes finance, new Car finance was only 12%. We thought, there’s a big zhol-jhal here, why, bikes and new cars, why doesn’t used car come in the middle of bikes and new cars. We realized the fundamental issues that CarDekho can solve for the industry, like title transfer, banks want title transfer to be done by dealers, and they don’t want open titles because if they do not have asset collateralized they cannot recover the asset. So then we realized that to build a used car finance business, we have to first build a title transfer business. We actually went deep into, working creating the title transfer business first, if we have the title, right, and we give a guarantee to bank, if your title is not hypothecated, we will bear the risk, and it sorted there. So while it was means to an end, without it means I wouldn’t be able to not ever reach that end. So I think what happens in India Rajiv, and in any business for that matter, the problem statement is, as you discover into the enablers are very different than what it looks on the surface, we realized, going deeper into a business adds more value than trying to scratch the surface. I would recommend anybody who’s hearing this, don’t try to do too many things at one time, do fewer things, but go deep. And we kept on building depth on insurance and finance for next three years, four years deep technology, deep integration with banks, deep integration with insurers that now we do around a million insurances a year, we do now almost get the largest aggregator of used car loans in the country. We source through our channel, and the money comes to our bank and we give to dealers 150 crores a month, we are the largest Fintech in the country, CarDekho is not known as a Fintech, but we are largest Fintech, we are second largest insurancetech company in the country right now. So what started was, in getting that in the dealer channel suddenly opened new horizons to build a business beyond that channel also. We started going B2C. Now InsuranceDekho is an asset we have created, we have got loan journeys automated online. So things are evolving, right. And now, once we add this capital, we raise another around with this insurance and finance business working really well, new car, taking shape, used car channel business taking shape, we raised another 100 million dollars. And now suddenly, we had a lot more capital to even dream bigger. We started expanding internationally now Rajeev, with this money we redeployed the capital into Indonesia and Philippines. So we basically realized this big market there and we could now replicate our technology to new markets. We are now the number one new car player in Indonesia already. Number two, in Philippines. So we thought, why a company from India cannot be global. Right. So with SCA target, we started to expand horizons. Parallely, in India, our vision was expanding rapidly because we realized that it’s a supply constrained market in India. So if we can help our dealers buy cars, it will be insane. We started, buying and creating retail stores for the first time. So this was the first offline entry of CarDekho, we created Gaadi stores where we basically asked customers to come walk in and sell car take money in an hour. So we basically started building , now it was a capital heavy business, because you really go buying cars holding it in inventory, giving it to a dealer, and opening offline retail stores, which have gestation to get profitable, and there’s a huge brand building required to do that. So that went into heavy investment, we raised another 100 we have raised till date around 240 million dollars with 100 in the bank still. And this has become very asset heavy. With the new era dawning, we started now buying car and supplying in wholesale to our dealer making margin there. Now we started thinking of what is the real challenge of consumer from a consumer side used car buying is not something easy, he can’t trust if it is either good car, bad car, we saw the trust deficit, let’s remove that we have now started retailing cars directly to consumers. So there is a retail channel and there is a wholesale channel that we’ve built. And we basically are now imagining that as India moves ahead in the next five to 10 years mobility will change, the landscape will change. So as CarDekho, we want to lead the show of how mobility is gonna evolve in India, the ways of ownership are gonna change, right? So we are basically, gonna deploy more capital the way mobility is run, it’s not necessary to own the asset, like, look at our kids. I am already 40, our kids don’t want to own an asset anymore. The kids basically or the new age kids, they treat it as a service. And I think there will be a cohort emerging in India that will basically no want to really own cars but, use it as a means to an end which is of mobility and there will be a cohort, which will still be, middle class buying his first car, who still would want to own an asset.

There will be people who think, I want more in life, I don’t want to buy this Alto to start with, why can’t I buy directly, Brezze to start with in my life? Right? Can at the same Alto EMI get the next level car? Right? They will be, can I get something without a down payment, I know I’m making money I can afford an EMI but I don’t want down-payment collecting it. So you will have to come up with a financial product. And that’s why I think the partnership of startups in mobility and banks is going to be a critical part of evolving this ecosystem hand in hand, that what I was saying, you’ll be the backbone for, all the banks will be the backbone for building mobility. Because we as, startups or even as mobility solution companies, we’re not the one who will be available to get the capital at the cost you guys get, and we’re not becoming a bank in any near future. I really want to use the backbone that, digital banks can bring forward, I believe the ways 10 years out, people will start buying new cars online. Yeah. And financial journeys will happen online, the whole transactions will happen online, trading will happen online. So I believe that you know, there will be a cohort of consumer for each thing and you have to basically sit down and think which cohort would be what size and build product for that cohort. And that’s what we’re doing it CarDekho, we are thinking ahead of time, not now, but three years out, business is gonna be very different.

Rajeev Ahuja

Amit you talked about, you were able to generate so much traffic, you became SEO SEM hustlers in the first five, six years. And then you started building a brand when you got your first investor check. I think I’m very curious to understand what did you then and now you’ve got a biggest icon in the Indian film industry as your brand ambassador. You know, what’s been the thought process and journey there? I think it’s been an evolving journey.

Amit Jain

Rajeev when we started with no money, there was no marketing and then marketing became a very critical part. And in our space, as cars especially used cars, trust is the biggest thing. And you need to basically establish trust the brand, CarDekho was built around the theme of trust and change. So we like our icons, if you will notice also like Dravid = trust & Akshay Kumar = a change agent and does genre of change. It was never too important. As an engineer, I will be very frank, I really had no clue of know how this brand building really works. And I, I’m hardcore, the good news that we basically when we got into marketing, given our analytical backgrounds. Look in marketing, I’ll be frank, whenever I’ve asked marketers, many of them. I’ve always got one answer. This campaign worked, I don’t know which part of it but 50% money goes for work? Well, 50% doesn’t but I can measure it really. So given the background, we can I think we were very, very analytical, I’ll just give you example, right? The whenever a TV slot comes, we have a real time tracker, which tells me how much traffic increase during that slot on the site. Like exactly know what viewership during that slot. Really, if you’re that analytical, you will use much lesser money to build your own brand while building the brand. So my advice to entrepreneurs would be, if you are going to spend then measure it, measure it. And if you can’t measure it, don’t spend secondly, I think social media will play a big role. You’ll have to, the new era where brands are now not getting built on television, brands are now getting build with experiences people share with each other. So are your customers sharing the experiences they’ve had with the product or offering or service on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, wherever, right? Influence, are they influencing decisions of others, real brand is built by consumers, not by icons, you have to basically create experiences that make the brand happen. And I think that’s the biggest one I would put is our focus, can we create experience of consumers that builds a brand within consumers, this can only amplify a bit but real meat lies there.

Rajeev Ahuja

Amit, I’m just drawing parallels to some of the other business leaders and founders I’ve been speaking with. And I think one of the interesting things I’m learning and this is not something today, but many of you start with content, aggregation classifieds, categorization, driving traffic, and that brings you to consumer intent and then you go about aggregating the fragmented part of India which is as you rightly said, we are supply constraint we are capital starved and many, many parts of the ecosystem maybe not at the manufacturing but clearly on this on the you know, the used car shop, so to speak, and then you start going deeper into asset purchase and asset creation, when I say asset, it’s been building these gaadi stores, building a balance sheet whether in partnership, this, it’s always fascinated me and I have a very old fashioned banker who’s now going to be a little bit more, you know, forward thinking with talking to people like you. This is not how Indian businesses or global businesses ever thought, Mujhe manufacturing plant lagana hain, I will appoint, let’s say, so many dealers, this is how successful models have happened. When I look at your, if I just take a 10 year snapshot, there are so many business model shifts, and perhaps deeper vertically integrated than what you had imagined in 2009-10, CarDekho can ever be, juxtapose that to India’s own journey on consumer consumption, different patterns, etc. I mean, to me, it’s fascinating that how people like you have actually gone so deep, and are almost like a combination of a dealer of a factory, which actually validates vehicles inspections, as well as in the nervous system for financial services, including insurance. And because through you, everything flows, and actually, also, being a consumer first company, I mean, this is fascinating. It’s all has happened in the last 10 years, perhaps more in the last five years. than in the first five, just help us please understand, how does this work? It’s worked so fast, what have we missed as traditional compaies?

Amit Jain

I will tell frankly, as digital company to do go offline, understand that when you spoke about the traditional companies, it was about distribution. So, what are the big companies all about, have the largest disruption and I am the biggest company, it was all about that? Now, imagine when distribution pivots into digital? It is nobody’s jaghir anymore, right. You’re basically now touching the consumer at every nook and corner of the country because you just need a website as a as an app as if it’s a digital asset. So suddenly, what pivoted every business you know, suddenly in the new era was how fast people converted online how fast people starting looking at things online that changed the distribution landscape of the country completely, and JIO only further fuel it. Now coming to the asset part, I’ll be very honest, we are not an asset company really. We are a tech company which is willing to bet on assets because of a data. Imagine I’ve been running a classified platform for good donkey years, 12 years. There’s so much data I have, which pincode, what Lajpat Nagar mein kya gaadi jaati hain, mujhe pata hain. Kyonsa dealer kya rakhta hain who pata hain. With data, you can now make smarter moves. you don’t have to start afresh like, aaj kya gaadi kharidu, kitne main kharidu. There is machine learning algorithm that tells me what to buy the machine learning algorithm it tells me how much will we spend on refurbishment of this vehicle. I don’t have to even put human on it. No technician is required to tell me how much it will take, it is just a visual scan and my machine learning technology tells me this panel will be replaced this panel will be repainted this panel will be repaired and from the CRM it pulls out how much will it cost, I exactly know before buying how much is a refurbished cost imagine when tech companies come into this space they come with tech mindset technology first we don’t think your auto company at all. You think you’re a tech company who happened to be an auto asset I could be could have been any other segment, it could have been mobile it really wouldn’t have bothered me the power that comes out is the billions and billions of data points we’re going to gather a cross this in our database practically all Indians hitting who owns cars, we know who to target when to target when he will when he bought his previous car when he will sell so much intelligence lying here in the data. And I think that’s where we differ from how traditional companies work. Because then we make even open a store right if you want to open a retail store we would put the stuff that sells in the 10 year radius because we have collected data signals for 10 years now of that pincode on what’s happening here really. At what price the stuff will sell, it’s not just about selection and the mix, it is also about which aging car you want to put which what at what price, color, like a pincode A, a black colour maybe fast moving because its South Delhi in a separate say Pitampura white car move faster because there’s a lot of dust around and no bungalows, so you can see color choices are being made with is that so, so much data Rajeev, you can actually plan your retail. It’s like I know what you mean. I’m right next to you now. So I don’t have to keep the whole inventory anymore, I’ll keep a very small collection, because I know what sells here that I’m creating this no whole digital world where I can sell you what is not there in the store, you order it, and it will come to you. So in my, treat my website, like a shop now. And you can buy a car online. And that’s where, we’ve been talking about how not this financial journey will have to be automated digitally. And how new is banks like RBL Bank can change the game.

Rajeev Ahuja

I want to share two anecdotes with the listeners. And you know, I remember having spoken to you early 2019 and I don’t think anybody guessed it, but you told me that through your consumer intent, which is where people coming to your site, you are sensing that there is going to be a slowdown in the primary sales of vehicles. I mean, India saw that evolve over the next six, nine months. And I don’t know if you remember one conversation and the summer of 2020 when we were all rightfully very, very anxious about COVID both at a personal level and at the economy level. You told me Rajeev, teen mahine mein auto sales will go through the roof. Okay. And I just want to bring this you know, kind of story to the viewers that you know, the intent which you’re seeing the data which you’re seeing, and then you’re looking at it backwards and saying how do I make the journey more and more efficient, which means not just data technology, but also some partnerships and assets is crucial to how you build businesses at least in many areas. Modern industry I mean, in the traditional industry, it was a supply driven economies of scale, 8 million car plant hain toh 5 million karo tabhi aapki cost neeche ayegi it because it was a it was a supply starved world, today this is all new economics but we are a demand tension starved world and this is where platforms like yours tape I’m speculating that even you have so much of lead gen And so much of data you can actually go back to the car manufacturer and say boss you are planning this model for next year they want it today how do you go and make your engineering lines so flexible that you can launch it in three months and I’ll give you the data where to sell it maybe I’m.

Amit Jain

Rajeev you’re telling, I mean, I exactly know what the trends are like the very fact that I’ve seen I’m just talking about last January to this January, okay. The sub four meter compact SUV segment has grown on like an online world 4x and four meters sedan segment is dying, is shrinking. Here it’s going down and the other one is you know, I exactly know what you know manufacturers should be focused on the where India focus on you know, good part Rajeev is that, like you rightly said the data signals right car buying journies the engaged journey of months, you start with like four or five months before consumer comes, start looking at things and we can we have an AI algorithm which scores me know when is the ready to buy? Because based on the behavior that he does so for example, viewers watched my video for five minutes versus you know, was 30 seconds how many pictures of the car divided go to the color section of the car? Which color did you stop at right? How many seconds is stopped at that particular picture of red color versus white will tell you which color is whatever the line is? What I have realized Rajeev is that the data is so insane, I can even advise manufacture which what would be the color mix on a production plant in a particular city? Because I exactly know what color is being watched. Right now manufactures in just make white cars, literally most of them, right. And that’s what sells, you know, it’s a cyclic loop. But honestly, I can predict a lot of you know, pattern in advance because of the fact that journey started six months before. So I can see the future much in advance as online platform on what’s really gonna happen six months out, I could predict COVID through the roof sale, because I was seeing live highest traffic even before COVID ended. And I was seeing my site, I had to put new servers onto the platform. I couldn’t even handle the load it was going beyond Diwali of last year, like what’s happening, you know, this is gonna go crazy now. And that’s exactly what happened. Still there is supply demand mismatch.

Rajeev Ahuja

So this brings me to important juncture and I really commend that you have laid it down in such a very simple way. As you see the next three, five years of cardekho. And, let’s talk about the auto business, okay. And what I understand, consumer data, intent led, whether owning cars for larger, a larger number of millennials and whatever generation you talk about, goes into a service. I mean, and again, I agree that today COVID is actually sharpen that. We want experiences, we don’t necessarily want assets. And at least I can say that housing at least for a certain segment and certain type could become that overtime. I mean, we are seeing that in housing maybe slower, because housing is still a very emotive rational asset and you know, people want to own houses because when houses do not appreciate in value the way it used to and car certainly don’t no longer they actually depreciate the moment you leave the showroom. The whole you know, as a cohort changes Oh, if you were to now go forward and I’d to build a dot pattern for our viewers, what are the two or three things which you are grabbing your attention where you’d like to see things more evolved and we’re CarDekho would do a few things what we have understood so far is great. Take a three five year view ahead. More from a consumer society ownership mobility perspective?

Amit Jain

I think there is going to be a rapid shift Rajeev with the advent of EV is also going well when you think of five year out you’re at the advent of EVs you know all these bikes will become electronic EVs will first rage in bikes and then it will come to four wheelers also right battery costs a little high but imagine a new world where even there are only 20 moving parts the EV is exactly that is this no service required if something after the part is replaced it is not even repaired it is taken to the factory repaired refurbished separately but that’s how it’s going to work. Imagine a new world where you know car is fully connected, technology is all there basically tracking the whole thing battery signals, there are you know battery power points you know like petrol pumps, you will see a new world now where people will start seeing this as a mobility as a service is how I see it. Irrespective of whether EVs advent happens or not the ways of mobility are going to change significantly and each manufacturer will have to prepare itself for the new mobility wave people may not want to own a vehicle they want they may like Airtel ka connection hain, it’s like you know a Netflix a connection Why can’t car be a connection think about it that way. So I personally believe, nobody no consumer wants to haggle over prices no consumer wants to see his depreciated asset and then try to figure out best price to sell, maintain it himself, stand in service queues, tire khatam ho gaya, tire ka rate pata karo, battery khatam ho gayi, battery ka rate pata karo. Nobody wants that, nobody wants haggle in life. Consumer wants peace of mind and mobility as a service. Have you ever thought Airtel ka tower kaise chalta hain, ya airtel ke andar kya problem aati hogi internet ke liye, that’s their problem, I will do a service and I’m happy I don’t want to get that out. Similarly, in cars, what will start happening is I would be looking at mobility as a service to me. And I would want a rapid amount of change over it if I’m you know, gonna go this weekend to a you know offloading trip, I would want a different mobility solution. And if I’m in the city, I want different mobility solution. And year out, I’m gonna change my mobility solution. I don’t want to say nobody lives with your mobile phone for more than a year or two these days, forget about the , the way we operate in India is going to change and the shifts will be faster, and you will see no more rotation and the new generation want to try explore new variety of new things. And you’ll start seeing a rapid shift towards mobility as a service. And, that how I believe, and CarDekho probably is a better placed in that world if you were to ask my view, because, we’ll be partnering with the OEMs and dealers to create the solutions because we are a multi brand solution. I’m not a Hundai, I’m not a Maruti, I’m on a Tata, I’m not a Honda. We are CarDekho which creates mobility across brands, the multi brand mobility, right? That’s what I believe will be the most powerful to create all these solutions that I just spoke about you have to think of Indian consumer who always seeks value. Now, we have to basically create an insane amount of value and not cut any pie of profit of anybody earns today. And that’s where the sweet spot will lie of mobility.

Rajeev Ahuja

I think some of the stuff you’ve talked about, for the last 10-12 years of innovation on your business model. So you keep saying tech. I think tech is an amplifier, a driver, I think it’s your mind and your connectivity with so many different kinds of people and whether it’s the best used car shop or an OEM or a consumer is what is important. Because Tech, everybody has debt, it’s how you use it. And how you use that as part of your thinking is what I’m learning and some of the stuff that you’ve done. As you evolved your business model going almost, to use a phrase which you guys are fond of fullstack in some senses, you know, is and rapidly. So it’s not a five year plan, it’s like, let’s try if it works, we go. And these are these are important lessons for people like us. Because while banking is a little, little preserved word regulated world, I would say 70 -80% of banking, as I say, 80, which just touches the consumer, has already evolved in a material way outside the four walls of the bank, the four walls of the ATM or two dimensional mobile app. So you know, we all have to agree that we a lot of our services have to get embedded into the primary journey, which the consumer wants to take. And one of the humbling experiences I’ve witnessed in my 10 years in RBL, is that customers come to the bank only when they have a problem with the bank, or not a well versed with, with the new tools and technology. So I think this is a very important lesson for us that we have to be where the customer journeys primarily originate, and want to stay. I think that goes for a lot of service providers, insurance companies, you know, assayers, you know, I’m seeing that happen in in many areas, which are thought to be very, very, very traditional finance has been broken up into many pieces now, and people are now recombining all the aspects of thing, but this is a lesson for all of us, as well, thanks a lot for, for educating through your experiences. So I keep saying this founder sessions are like mini MBAs, done with a lot of heart and soul.

Last session Amit, what have been your inspiration over the last 10-15 years you built this out. When you were a little down, who have you looked up to? What have you looked up to? If there are few messages, I know you have shared a some messages for the entrepreneurs. What would those be, if you want to encapsulate that?

Amit Jain

Founders life on the outside looks like a glory life, built CarDekho and all. Actually, real journey is very different. There are more failures than successes. You will have to struggle more than you will succeed. And, till date also, I can tell you that I fail more often than I succeed. While it looks rosy from outside, there are many skeletons in the backyard let’s just say that. So, I think, persistence and resilience is one of the key factors that make founders happen. If you believe, you will find the way. Idhar se jaoge, udhar se jaoge, but that resilience and perseverance is unmatched and that’s what basically keeps us going. I find happiness in work mostly and then in other things. I treat CarDekho as my first baby and then my kid as my second baby. Agility, if you are not disrupting fast, the only weapon you have against the bigger giants or bigger companies is your agility, because that’s the only thing which cannot be replicated in a big board room but can be replicated in a small garage room. And, I fear only this, I tell my team, we won’t get beaten down by a big company, if we were to get beaten down, we would get beaten down by someone who is sitting in a garage just like we did when we started. So keep your eyes open, acquire, partner, do not compete with smart ones get them in. That’s how we look at the ecosystem of startup entrepreneur. I love entrepreneurs, they are always bubbling with passion. They talk so differently; I see myself in so many young entrepreneurs I meet. That is how I would put out my messages for the young entrepreneurs. Stay hungry, stay foolish; Steve Jobs said that I believe in that fully.

Rajeev Ahuja

Excellent Amit. I am pretty sure there are many people who have been silently inspired by your conversation over the last 12-13 years. And this is how entrepreneurship works, we get inspired by someone and then we also pay it forward. On that amazing note, thank you thank you so much for sharing your vision for sharing your journey and sharing some stuff I had never known. I am in awe of people like you, who are creating something truly magical which will help many people and in the process CarDekhos of the world will create a new India over next 5-10 years. More power to you.

Amit Jain

Thanks Rajeev. Looking forward to partnering and creating new India.

Rajeev Ahuja

Thank you so much. Thanks a lot!

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