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Automobile platform Carsome raises $2M to expand in Southeast Asia

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Carsome, a Malaysia-based platform that connects car dealers with buyers and sellers, is gearing up to enter new markets in Southeast Asia after raising a $2 million Series A. The round was led by IdeaRiverRun, a Malaysian private equity firm, with participation from IMG Investment Partners and 500 Startups.

Chief executive officer Eric Cheng says that Carsome’s goal is to become “the market leader for car trading” in Southeast Asia. The company, which launched last year, will use its new funding to expand into Thailand and Indonesia, the two largest automobile markets in the region.

Carsome’s last funding was a $350,000 seed round from IdeaRiverRun and 500 Startups that it announced in August. Since then, it claims it has reached a gross merchandise value of $5 million, and wants to grow that amount ten times and hit profitability by the end of this year.

Carsome is up against other Southeast Asian auto portals like Carro and Carlist, but differentiates by only selling vehicles through commercial car dealers that it pre-screens. Instead of selling directly to other users, people who want to offload a used car can put it up for bids from dealers on the platform after it is inspected by Carsome employees, while buyers can compare offers instead of having to bargain prices down at different businesses. Carsome then takes care of paperwork for both sides of each transaction.

Cheng, who founded Carsome with its chief operating officer Teoh Jiun Ee, says they got the idea for their startup after both had trouble selling their old cars.

“We tried posting them for sale on classified sites but all we were getting were low/minimum offers from dealers and non-legitimate scam calls from overseas dealers,” he says. “We felt the pain and the inability in finding good offers to quickly get rid of our used cars, hence we created Carsome to fill the gap.”