Ready, Jet, Set and Go: Droom is All Set to Race in South Asia
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Serial entrepreneur Sandeep Aggarwal sounded like a happy man as he squeezed some time to discuss Droom's latest fundraising on a busy Saturday morning between his investor meetings.
"My journey has been quite exciting and yet challenging," he said laughingly. Prior to starting Droom in April 2014, Aggarwal founded Shopclues, an Indian marketplace which valued a little over a billion dollars, with Radhika Aggarwal and Sanjay Sethi.
For Aggarwal, who is a big fan of internet business, the challenge was letting his legacy thinking go away and get a fresh perspective to run Droom, in other words, think and act like a first-time entrepreneur.
He feels India is an emerging and a highly fragmented market for any category where distribution channels are inefficient while the cost of capital is very high. And hence, Aggarwal claims marketplaces as a business model dwells well with emerging markets.
"I was very proud that I created India's first ever marketplace with Shopclues and I am equally proud that I created India's first ever marketplace for automobiles, which is a huge category as India is the third largest automobile market in the world and the sector contributes 12 percent in country's GDP," he says while adding that, "In four years, we have created the largest auto portal in India, the largest vertical e-commerce and hyperlocal market."
About the Moolah
Earlier last week, Droom raised $30 million in Series D, led by Toyota Tsusho Corporation (member Toyota Group) and co-led by Digital Garage of Japan.
The investors were joined by Ellison Investments, an Asia-based investment manager, as well as many existing investors and a number of prominent institutional investors and family offices from China, Hong Kong and SE Asia in this round of fundraising.
Discussing what worked in Droom's favour during this round, he shares, "In today's world, you need to develop technology and data science intensive business. Droom is not an automobile or retail company, instead we are a technology company and money follows such businesses."
The automobile transactional platform has heavily invested in data science, deep learning and artificial intelligence and Droom are looking to continue with it for the years to come.
A part of the company's vision is also to remain product, price, seller and geography agnostic. This is what, according to Aggarwal makes the business scalable.
"Unlike Europe and Japan, India is a low trust market which creates a lot of modern hazard in the used vehicle category - which has no industry standard as such. So, our idea is - anything that has a wheel, a motor and is used for human transport, we want to make such transactions quick and trustworthy," he shared.
The fundraising is also a mark to Droom's next milestone as the company plans to expand its operation in nine South Asian countries, mainly Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar and Lahus, by 2019.
Aggarwal is also aiming to list Droom in the American Stockmarket NASDAQ by end of next year.