A new startup in Indonesia wants to car owners in Southeast Asia’s country sell their vehicle with more security and reliability.
BeliMobilGue — meaning ‘Buy My Car’ — was quietly started last year as a joint venture from Berlin-based Frontier Car Group and Intudo Ventures. It acts as a middleman between Indonesia’s car dealers and consumers who want to part with their vehicle.
The startup has big plans for 2018 after it raised $3.7 million this week. The investment — which is described as a pre-Series A deal — was led by Indonesia’s Intudo Ventures with participation from angel investors that include Michaelangelo Moran, one of the co-founders of Uber rival Go-Jek.
Rolf Monteiro, BeliMobilGue CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch that he expects the Series A round itself to be completed in the first half of this year. He declined to provide details on its likely size.
Dutch-born Monteiro, who previously led LivingSocial in Indonesia among other ventures, explained that the process of selling a car in world’s fourth largest country is not easy. Unlike Western markets, car sales and ownership is not logged. The owner’s manual is proof of ownership, and it is common for would-be sellers to worry about having it stolen when they arrange to meet a prospective buyer. Selling direct to a dealer eliminates that concern and, since there are plenty of dealerships, supply is more constant than in the retailer space.
“We’re trying to remove as many headaches as possible for the private seller, so don’t have to go down the consumer-to-consumer route,” Monteiro explained. “We transact the car to our network of private buyers, which includes dealers, showrooms and corporates who are looking to trade or own vehicles.”
Monteiro admits that a private sale might get a seller more cash, but he’s convinced that a safer option has value for many. Added to that, BeliMobilGue’s network means it can sell a car faster, he argued.
For its buyers, the company offers guarantees based on a 300-point inspection of each vehicle. Buyers can also spend an hour inspecting a vehicle before agreeing to buy it. If a deal is agreed, BeliMobilGue takes an undisclosed portion.
Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and a huge market in its own right with a population of over 260 million people. Jakarta is the center of the national auto market, representing nearly 60 percent of all vehicles in the country and, by extension of that, it’s where the key dealerships are.
BeliMobilGue’s current focus is the Greater Jakarta area — which, by some estimates, houses as many as 30 million people — with plans to expand to other parts of the country later this year. The startup currently has 17 locations, used primary for inspection, with plans to triple that figure in 2018.
“In Jakarta alone, there are 170,000 cars being transacted per month, we want to know how they are being sold,” Monteiro said. “It’s important to dominate Jakarta first [before expanding.] Just one percent of the city’s auto market would be $10 million in GMV per month.”
Monteiro added that the company has “done its homework” on the wider Southeast Asia region, but he believes it is essential to “be sure the quality of service and customer experience well above par” before looking to new markets. That means no expansion in 2018.
There is also no plan to go direct to consumers either. That’s a question Monteiro said he fields a lot, particularly during first meetings with dealers. He reasoned that reaching the consumer audience requires budgets and focus that BeliMobilGue isn’t interested in, plus there are added hassles. Dealers and auto professions are a more willing audience that his company knows where to find.
E-commerce in Southeast Asia is tipped to grow to $88.1 billion by 2025 with Indonesia the largest single contributing country. So it isn’t surprising that there’s plenty of competition in the auto sales space. iCar Asia, Rocket Internet venture Carmudi and Carro are some of the other companies trying to make it easier to sell a vehicle in Indonesia.