Eric Cheng's startup Carsome is shaking up an industry that desperately needs it: used car sales
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters
Eric Cheng has successfully disrupted the used car industry in Southeast Asia. Carsome, the Malaysia-based company he founded in 2015 with partner Teoh Jiun Ee, is the region’s biggest used car trading platform, employing more than 700 people. It connects buyers to car dealers, and transparently facilitates the entire process from inspection to valuation to transaction.
Approximately 40,000 cars are sold on the app annually—around one every ten minutes. With a December 2019 Series C funding round of US$50 million, Cheng is looking to increase that number and solidify Carsome's position as the number-one player in the region, while also expanding beyond Southeast Asia. Here, he describes his work in his own words.
Many areas in the used car industry are largely underserved. We are driven to change this by expanding our services to cover the ecosystem. We want to create a holistic trading environment by offering more services, such as financing, warranty and insurance.
There has been an old perception in the car market that dealers and salesmen are always trying to rip you off or trick consumers by using the low ball technique – we want to instil transparency and bridge the trust gap in the market
Carsome innovates the traditional experience. The key objective is to increase the efficiency of what people do and save everyone’s time. There has been an old perception in the car market that dealers and salesmen are always trying to rip you off or trick consumers by using the low ball technique – we want to instil transparency and bridge the trust gap in the market. That has been our mission since day one.
Working hard day and night for an extended period can affect us. We’re likely to lose focus and deliver low quality results when we are worn out, which may affect the people around us too. This is why every now and then I’ll unwind by doing other things I’m equally passionate about, aside from my work: eating my favourite food or a quick vacation—anything that gets my head back in the game stronger and clearer.
Always listen and observe. I used to be nervous meeting different people from various backgrounds when I first travelled for work. Instead of listening to their stories, I was eager to share what I do. I realised now that I should listen and absorb what I can and leverage on their experience so I can share with my team. Exposing myself to different cultures and meeting other leaders around the world opened up my perspectives on how I can better build my business as I go.
I’ve learned to make my work trips more seamless. For me, it means having a checklist so I won’t forget my necessities, a notebook to jot down any fresh ideas and staying hydrated at all times, because we tend to get vulnerable from constant travel.
Nothing is perfect. From day one, you have to keep learning and improvising along the way. Always stay eager to learn; even if you think you’re good at something, you can always strive to do better.