Friday, January 13, 2017

Buying a Used Vehicle? Check your gaadi first!

Co-author- Saumya Rastogi

The used vehicle market in India is growing leaps and bounds – For cars alone the overall market size is close to $15 Billion and is expected to touch $45 Billion in next 4 years. While the growth projections are certainly encouraging, most of this market is still dominated by unorganized players. Consider this – Out of approximately 15000 used-car dealers in India only about 1000 are organized. A whopping 84% of the car transactions happen either between two unknown people (C2C) or through unorganized car dealers. In such a scenario, how does one ensure the quality of the vehicle?

The seller knows everything about the vehicle whereas a buyer has no clue! Information asymmetry between the buyer and seller has been the biggest drawback of used car market or popularly termed as “market for lemons”. With the growing consumer interest in second hand vehicles, players are entering this space to bridge this information gap. CheckGaadi.com is one such startup that aims to reduce asymmetric information between buyers and sellers in the used vehicle transactions with the use of technology. CheckGaadi.com is positioned as a truly independent vehicle inspection startup that avoids any conflict of interest by not getting involved in the buying or selling process.

Founded by Amit Nigam, CheckGaadi.com is an early entrant in this untapped domain. Amit holds MBA from IIM Calcutta prior to which he studied B. Tech at NITK Surathkal. He has an experience of 15 years in software products development. Like many other customers, Amit also suffered from the problem of incomplete information in buying a car for himself and it was then that he felt the need for a solution to this problem. Amit’s experience at Bosch (largest supplier of automotive components) served as a base to equip him with domain expertise for this industry.

Here is the story of CheckGaadi.com from its founder Amit Nigam.

CheckGaadi.com is a very different kind of startup. Would you like to tell us about it? What are the services offered?
CheckGaadi.com is a year-old startup committed to bringing transparency in the purchase/sale of used vehicles. It works as an e-commerce platform; providing on-demand services to customers from the convenience of their homes or offices.  You can call it an online marketplace which provides prospective buyers with expert technical opinion about vehicle quality and advice when purchasing vehicles, thus helping them in making informed decisions at fair prices. The inspection is provided at a nominal fee of Rs 999/- for cars and Rs. 649/- for bikes.

Do you only offer inspection service or you also have collaboration with Repair & Servicing Centers? If not, are there any plans for expanding your network with Service Centers?
We operate via co-branded B2B partnerships as well as direct B2C channels.
We also have quite ambitious plans to serve the customers at every step of vehicle ownership value chain. At present we are conducting a number of pilots and working towards establishing a repeatable model.

How do you incorporate technology in your business?
This space is largely unorganized and has been traditionally served by local garage mechanics. We are trying to bring transparency in multiple dimensions – service quality, pricing, customer interactions, process standardization, predictable output formats etc. Technology takes the center stage in delivering all these promises; everything that can be automated is automated at CheckGaadi.com.

We have developed a proprietary technology called “mini-ERP” which helps us achieve the best in class efficiencies at scale, while making the complete process transparent to all stakeholders. Vehicle inspections are core to our business and we have demonstrated it by investing in this technology. While almost everyone in this business uses “pencil above the ear” approach to vehicle inspections, we have led from the front to deliver the quality and transparency that the customers deserve.

Your website shows Bike Inspection “51 Point Check” and “106 Point Check” for Car Inspection. Can you explain this?
We offer “51 Point Check” for Bikes, that is, 51 point check across all critical areas of 2-wheeler like Engine, Exhaust, Brakes, Suspension, Sprocket, Tires, Bearings, Electricals and all other subsystems. Similarly, for cars we offer 106 point check across all critical areas of a 4-wheeler like Engine, Brakes, Transmission, Suspension, Tires, HVAC, Electricals and all other subsystems.

In which city do you currently offer service? Are there any plans for expansion?
We currently service 6 cities (+5 in NCR) – Bengaluru, Delhi & NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad. We are looking to add 4 more cities in our list in the short term.

How is CheckGaadi.com different from its competitors? We believe the market is not too penetrated in this area. What is your view on the same?
We are India’s first fully independent vehicle inspection services provider serving both 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers of all brands under a single umbrella. Our “independence” puts us in the position of strength – we don’t get involved in the vehicle buying or selling process and hence can focus on our core offering, i.e., vehicle inspections. Independence and our first-in-class technology led approach is the USP of CheckGaadi.com.

In your business, customers need trust on your inspection service, as their future decision is solely based on your judgment. How do you built that trust and confidence in the customer?
There are enough checks and balances right from the time we recruit the technicians, train them on the do’s and don’ts, continuously taking customer feedback on them and most importantly, incorporating severe disincentives for any deviation from the process.

What are the kinds of employee roles available at CheckGaadi.com?  What is the background preferred for those roles?
We mainly hire for operational roles such as Operations Managers, Operations Executives of varied experiences, BPO executives, automotive domain experts etc. In order to ensure candidates of proven credentials we prefer to hire via referrals; either the candidates should have demonstrable on-the-job experience or should possess relevant technical background (ITI, Diploma, etc.).

How is CheckGaadi.com funded? Are you looking at raising funds in the future?
We are boot-strapped as of now but in advanced stages of closing our first round of funding.

What according to you has been the Eureka! Moment in your journey so far?

We were recently chosen in top 1% of the startups across India amongst those who participated in LetsIgnite – India’s largest Angel conference.
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