The CEO shares on how far Carsome has come since its founding in 2015

Having first graced the cover of Tatler Malaysia back in 2019 and being inducted into the Gen.T list, Eric Cheng, together with his co-founder Jiun Ee Teoh have scaled Carsome to greater heights.

Having started out their journey locally in 2015, with a seed funding of US$350,000, Carsome expanded into Singapore the following year, and by 2017 already had a presence in Indonesia and Thailand as well.

And the business model developed alongside, as it grew to become a trusted source to buy and sell used cars—starting off with a relatively low figure of 1,000 cars annually to 40,000 prior to the pandemic, and having celebrated the company’s 100,000th seller back in 2020 to now having introduced the first-ever Carsome Certified Lab, which is capable of turning over 2,000 cars within a mere month!

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We catch up with Cheng, who gladly gives us a tour of the Carsome Certified Lab and fills us in on some of his proudest achievements thus far.

“Since day one, Carsome’s mission has been laser focused, as we take on a customer-first approach in all that we do in order to gain users’ confidence,” explains Cheng on how the business has been doing well. After all, it is important to build trust, especially in a business that’s predominantly dealing with used cars.

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Furthermore, Carsome seemed to have been pandemic-proof, as the effects of Covid-19 increased the number of cars being traded within the market. One of the reasons is that there was a paradigm shift, with more people wanting their own vehicles, in order to not only physically distance themselves from others, but to also ensure the cleanliness of their surroundings. But of course, there were others too, who sadly were forced to sell their vehicles in order to cut costs or fund their livelihoods—which Carsome also provided an avenue for, as it offered a lifeline to some sellers by providing instant cash, should someone need to sell their car right away.

“We have been growing from strength to strength, and continue to have a strong foothold within the Southeast Asian market. In fact, we are larger than the top 10 dealers within the region combined. The pandemic also contributed to the rise in our business as it promoted a shift in user behaviour towards more personal modes of transportation while the increased digital presence, which was accelerated by the pandemic, sees online consumption continuing to be a major growth driver for Carsome,” expounded Cheng on how the platform grew in popularity and utility during the pandemic.

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When asked how Carsome is faring against the competition, as there are a number of other similar players within the market now, Cheng confidently assures us that the company’s investment philosophy and culture of execution have proven to give them the edge over their competitors, given some of the unique advantages they now have. “And it is with these advantages that we possess, having been one of the pioneers in the field in almost all of the markets we’re in, that we are confident that we’ll continue to grow and widen our market leadership within each region,” shares Cheng.

Most recently, Carsome introduced its state-of-the-art Certified Lab, based in an industrial area in Klang, Selangor. The large space sees all the vehicles that are about to be sold on the digital platform go through an extensive 175-point inspection, and then proceed with any fixing or touch-ups if necessary. The Carsome Certified Lab is capable of doing a myriad of fixes, from sorting out technical issues to body work. There’s even a special space where the cars are photographed so potential buyers can have a 360-degree view of both the interiors and the exteriors before committing to buy the vehicle. Of course, one can also easily book a test drive as well.

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Apart from the platform to buy and sell vehicles, there’s also the Carsome Academy, which in a sense gives back to society as well, but is also cleverly placed to feed back into Carsome, as it develops the necessary talent for the main business. The academy is an automotive technical institute that helps produce high-skilled and industry-ready workers through technical education and practical training. Plus, it guarantees its students a job upon completion of their year-long course—which comprises three months of theoretical training followed by nine months of hands-on training, which will help the students when they face real problems on the field.

“Carsome has far exceeded what Jiun Ee (my fellow co-founder) and I initially imagined, or could even dream of, when we first planned and wanted to start up Carsome,” Cheng told us. “And while we’re extremely proud of how far we have come thus far as a team, we are definitely not going to be resting on our laurels, and will continue to strive to becoming better and to fulfil the immense potential Carsome has,” he continued.

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On top of the many achievements and accolades that the company has received, the one thing Cheng is most grateful for is each and every individual who make up the Carsome workforce.

“A huge shout-out to team Carsome, in every market, wherever you may be! Thank you for everything; we would never have gotten this far without the team effort. Thank you for believing in Carsome, even when all we had to show for it in the beginning was one inspection centre and an outrageous dream,” conveys Cheng to each and every one of his colleagues.

With the company successfully thriving in the market for seven years and and becoming Malaysia’s first tech unicorn in 2021, there’s definitely more to look out for from Carsome. Cheng himself reiterated: “We are just at the beginning of digitally disrupting the used car market, and we aim to continue and uplift the entire customer experience for users in their journey towards car ownership by developing new products such as financing, insurance and more, to provide deserved peace of mind to all our customers.”

One thing’s for sure, Carsome is being helmed by the capable hands of Jiun Ee Teoh and Eric Cheng, who seem to be steering the company onwards and upwards in the right direction. Already boasting more than 9,500 dealers spread throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, with over 100 Carsome centres, across 50 cities and a whopping 4 million over bids made for cars within the regions, one can only imagine what greater heights the company will scale to.

“Carsome will continue growing, and expand to new markets in order to serve more customers and develop new solutions to solve customer pain points. In the end, our aim is to help each and every one of our customers in every way possible to own a car in the most hassle-free way possible,” says Cheng, who is looking forward to doing more with Carsome.

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Credits

Photography  

Imran Sulaiman

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