Teoh speaking at TM SME BizFest recently. – Pic courtesy of TM SME BizFest Facebook Page
Carsome founder and chief operating officer Teoh Jiun Ee shares how he founded South East Asia’s premier car buying-and-selling website.
Teoh admitted to being an aimless youth during his teens.
“I’d always wanted to be a businessman but I didn’t know how. What I did know was that to be successful, you must determine what you want to do in life,” he said during the first leg of TM SME BizFest 2017 recently.
Teoh, a ‘Biz Icon’ for the SME event, was one of the presenters who shared his experiences and challenges in setting up an online car-buying and selling platform called Carsome.
He shared that in getting a start-up up and running, determination and passion are key.
Teoh, who has found success as Carsome founder and chief operating officer, also wistfully related how lost he was after he sat for SPM.
However, he wasn’t entirely off-track. He knew he always wanted to be involved in the digital business industry. He just didn’t know how to go about it.
Teoh used all his past experiences to determine a need in the market, hence Carsome. – Pic courtesy of Carsome Facebook Page
When Teoh’s mother suggested that he should study accounting in order to find a stable job, he didn’t think twice as he was keen to start somewhere.
“So, I studied for two semesters. But then, I passed everything except the accounting subject,” he said.
Finding that he’s back to square one, Teoh backtracked to get a foot in the digital industry’s door.
The effort finally paid off when Teoh managed to graduate with a degree in information technology.
Somehow, Teoh found himself lost again during a job search following his graduation.
Adjusting to the reality of job search and gainful employment was hard for Teoh.
“I kept complaining and frequently switched jobs,” he admitted.
The complaining became just too much, prompting Teoh’s good friend to say, “What have you achieved? Nothing. Quit complaining, start working, be yourself and make things happen.”
With Carsome, it is easy for anyone to buy and sell cars using an online platform. – Pic courtesy of Carsome Facebook Page
The statement was a wake-up call for Teoh, who started to take his work more seriously. Eventually, he got promoted and even got headhunted in the process.
Exercising greater care in his occupation also turned Teoh into a mature individual who began to look at the bigger picture.
However, Teoh became restless again after he started thinking about his future beyond his job.
“I had a perfect job and a decent salary. But like a lot of people, I was only earning to survive and buy things I need. So, I started saving up for the future and cutting down on spending,” he said.
Soon, the thought of doing business crossed his mind. Teoh came to a realisation that there’s a gap in society’s need for a digital way of buying and selling vehicles.
“This is a new way of bringing convenience to customers. Buying cars and facing many dealers to get the best quotes is a real hassle. Carsome allows people to find cars and all negotiations with dealers are done in advance. All that’s needed is to choose the deal that best fits the customer’s need.”
All parties are able to conduct their transactions minus the hassle. – Pic courtesy of Carsome Facebook Page
Based on the humble premise of providing a solution for harried car buyers, was born in 2015.
Dubbed ‘a smarter, easier car selling & buying platform’, it is advantageous for car buyers, sellers and dealers as all quotations are pre-screened, enabling them to choose the bargain/price/car that best suits their needs. Paperwork is also taken care of by the staff, enabling a hassle-free experience.
Transparency is crucial. All parties are able to conduct the transaction with peace of mind as all deals, agreements, and background checks have been done.
Teoh pointed out that a strong demand for such service coupled with improvements in the sales industry through digitalization has resulted in a win-win situation for parties involved.
Set up with USD350,000 in seed money from investors, Carsome has recently raised USD2 million to expand the business further.
With four investors backing the project — Idea River Run (Malaysia), 500 Startup (United States of America), 1MJ Investment Partners (Japan) and Gobi (China) — Carsome is on a roll.
“Backers are needed to get the business up and running. It’s not about building it alone. You need to strategize, pitch and convince potential investors of your project,” said Teoh.
Today, the Carsome platform operates in three other regional countries — Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand — making it the market leader for online car buying & selling services in South East Asia.
Carsome is set for expansion beyond the regional market. – Pic courtesy of Carsome Facebook Page
In terms of numbers, the outfit serves 2,000 customers daily and racks up sales of nearly RM10 million a month. The number of staff also jumped from three to 130.
Future plans include overseas expansion, and the possible introduction of car leasing and renting services.
“Convincing them (investors) is what you must do. It wasn’t easy at first. I got rejected a lot (during pitching sessions). You just need to get on with your research to find the right investors,” said Teoh.