Bengaluru-based IT professional Devendra Bhagel, 33, had been hunting in vain for a used car for a very long time. The cars available with dealers of used cars were too expensive and did not meet his criteria. Many were dented and had multiple owners. Finally, he came across the portal gozoomo.com through a friend. He not only found a pre-inspected used car at an affordable price but was also assisted by the Zoomo team with the documentation process. He is now the proud owner of a second-hand Maruti Swift.
Zoomo, a Bengaluru-based startup that is helping buyers and sellers of used cars to connect directly, was started by IIT Kharagpur graduate Arnav Kumar with his friends, Aniket Behra and Himangshu Hazarika. After graduating from IIT, Kumar got placed at Deutsche Bank in Mumbai in 2010. He, however, realised that banking was not for him and joined an e-commerce portal, Urban Touch, in Gurgaon. After that, he moved to Bengaluru to co-found Sokratik, a startup that aimed to sell educational content to students. It was here that Kumar and his colleagues experienced the hassle of buying the perfect second-hand car.
“We needed a car to travel from one educational institute to another,” says Kumar. “We found it very tough to find one. Once we had zeroed in on a car model but then we found out through our mechanic that it had many dents. We also realised that though the demand for second-hand cars was very high, the whole system and the market were highly disorganised.”
While researching the market, Kumar spoke to some of his classmates settled in the US and found that the second-hand market there was very different. “They have a very organised system with a Kelley Blue Book (a pricing guide for evaluating and determining values for new and used cars) which recommends the correct price of a car,” he says. “Apparently, no such system exists in India.”
Thus, Zoomo was founded in 2014. One can download the Zoomo app (bit.ly/zoomo) or log on to the desktop site (www.gozoomo.com) to check out the options available. The aim was to build a price engine in order to help a buyer get a fair price of the vehicle. The startup has employed a bevy of car inspectors who do a test drive and inspect the car and the related documents such as the registration certificate and the insurance papers. They also ensure that the title papers have been transferred and the road tax has been paid. Based on their assessment, the inspectors send a detailed online report.
“Most of our customers are first-time buyers,” says Kumar. “We help them decide which car model they might want to buy based on their budget. We also help them organise car loans and negotiate the price. We have sold high-end BMWs and Audis through our platform. Currently, we are selling around 300 cars per month in Bengaluru and 100 in Mumbai. We are launching in Delhi soon and have plans to launch in Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai.”
The Zoomo platform is currently free; Kumar first wants to popularise the concept in India. The company is planning to run a billboard campaign in Bengaluru now and later in other cities. Although the startup was initially bootstrapped, it later raised Rs.32 crore from SAIF Partners and plans to raise another round of funding in October. The current business model is based on the commission it gets from banks for the car loans it organises for buyers. Kumar says that although the challenges of conducting business in an unorganised market, besides dealing with the regional transport office, are many, the potential is also huge.
He says that he gets his confidence and will power from his parents, who are both teachers in Ranchi. His mother has been running a school there for the past 18 years and his father is a physics professor. “Both of them have strongly influenced me,” he says. Does he fear failure? “I feel one must never be afraid to die because if you are, you will die.”
Till I was 22, I never questioned why I was doing something. I just followed the herd. Twenty-two years of goofing up.
On speed dial
My co-founders Aniket and Himangshu, and my operations leads Rahul and Maneesha.
I read Sherlock Holmes and dreamt of becoming a detective. Then I read Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth and wanted to be a spy.
A house we rented in HSR Layout where four of us worked and lived.
Top on to-do list
Grow, grow, grow. I want to build a huge company where people love working. I also want to play tennis, read seven hours a day and go for a run in the woods every day.