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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
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Sandeep Aggarwal, founder Droom, has put his chips on this online automobile marketplace model; 4Ps B&M queries him on the current and future growth plans

Droom is India’s first marketplace for automobiles. How did the idea of Droom come about?

One of the most initial thoughts was to bring transparency for a marketplace which is niche for automobiles. In India buying and selling used automobiles is completely broken and full of pitfalls. Thereafter, I came up with 52 ideas at Silicon Valley, each one of them I thought would make a billion-dollar company in India. Then I compared those ideas on around about three dozen parameters. After comparing and filtering them, I was left with just two ideas and eventually Droom made it to the final decision.

From an aircraft worth about Rs. 64 lakhs to a bike worth Rs. 3,500, everything is available on Droom. How does Droom manage such a wide business horizon?

Droom aims to benefit its consumers through great experiences. We also believe that this is a time for the evolution of the automobile sector in India as it is getting more organized. Also, we want to bring forth the idea that automobile should not be limited to just wheeled vehicles.

For example, there are two aircraft that are available for sale on Droom: a Legacy 600 for INR 64.52 crore and Hawker 900 XP for INR 45.99 crore. At the other end of the spectrum, it also markets two-wheelers: the cheapest, a Hercules Sparx 24-inches bicycle, costs INR 3,900.

With this widening business horizon, end-to-end facilitator Droom is all set to raise another up funding in the near future to fund its expansion plans in six South-East Asian countries and Europe in the next two years. Founded in April 2014 in Silicon Valley, Droom came to Gurgaon in India in 2015, funded by some leading global venture investors, raising INR 130 crore so far. In the last 16 months, we have roped in 41,000 automobile dealers with 1.5 lakh listing of vehicles, having a total value of INR 2,500 crore.

How comfortable are Indians with online automobile transactions? What about aircraft transactions?

Automobile freaks are heavily relying on online marketplaces for purchasing vehicles. The trends are very visible and super strong. We sold vehicles worth INR 5 Lacs in January 2015, our first month of revenue and we reached INR 15 crores in automobile transactional revenue in July 2015.

We have grown 300 times (not 300%) in seven months. And this is as strong a trend as it can get in support of evaluating the traction for Droom as India’s first marketplace for automobiles. We have sold vehicles worth INR 50 crores in the last seven months. At present, we are witnessing a low number of aircraft transactions but with the changing lifestyles of the country’s urban population, the aircraft transactions are expected to catch up fast.

Today, Droom has the largest geographical footprint, with its presence in 145 cities across India. How did you achieve so much so soon considering you started the Indian operations in 2015?

We have grown 300 times in 7 months and the reason for this growth is that unlike other offerings online that spend way too much money on marketing, we are solving pain points for buyers and sellers. The used automobile business suffers from trust and pricing issues for buyers and we are solving those problems with the use of technology and data sciences in a way that has not been done before. We are solving them fundamentally and that is the reason we are being rewarded by the overwhelming response of our offering by both buyers and sellers.

A good marketing and advertising strategy is one of the key pillars of a brand’s success. Droom came out with a very interesting campaign “Save our Vehicles” on April Fool’s Day. What was the idea behind this? What was the response? Which have been your most successful campaigns?

Vehicle abuse is an ugly truth today. Every day we see cars crashing and burning in the most ridiculous way, while in real life we come across people not paying heed to such mishaps. It is to counter these instances of vehicular abuse that we came up with “Save our Vehicles” campaign to educate policymakers and public about this highly sensitive issue and generate awareness among the vehicle owners about the needs and requirement of the vehicles. The idea received good visibility over the print and social media and was much appreciated within the fraternity.

Our campaign involving chopper rides with Uber on Christmas Day was a very successful campaign, which hit the right chord among the consumers. Droom entered into a strategic alliance with Uber for the festive period to bring on-demand chopper rides. The move was facilitated by the aerial vehicle category on Droom’s platform, which allows Droom users to rent and purchase aerial vehicles to fulfill all of their private aviation requirements. Under the partnership, Droom will enable reservations for half-hour chopper rides through the Uber app on Christmas Day.

For a similar successful campaign, Droom and Uber had previously collaborated for a ‘Supercar on Demand’ initiative, allowing consumers a chance to rent premier vehicles such as Audi R8 and Hummer.

How does one retain one’s best people?

For me, the mantra is ‘Get your employees to fall in love with your organization’. Finding and keeping talent is one of the key problems organizations face today. It is highly important to communicate your vision in a compelling way. Show everyone the role they have to contribute to this vision. We create opportunities for our associates to connect with each other for support and to improve communication in work teams.

Droom seems to have a very happy and friendly environment, with things like ‘cake throwing competitions’ happening in the organization. Tell us a bit more about your organization culture?

Culture is what makes an organization. Droom aims to make it enjoyable for associates to come to work every day. We focus on helping each other to bring out their true potential. We give no room to politics in our environment.

As an innovative organisation, we believe in adaptations, prototyping and fast iterations and encourage people to do experiments. Not everyone gets the same thing right the first time, but with the power of iterations, our associates are empowered and they create a great value proposition for the user. We know that the current millennial generation is very technologically savvy and we need to give them the right opportunities for them to blossom appropriately.

The new buzz word is ‘m-commerce’-mobile commerce. What are your opinions on this as far as India is concerned?

The landscape of m-commerce in India is undergoing an exciting transition. India is witnessing an impressive rise in everyday commerce conducted via mobile phones.  With the population becoming more and more tech savvy, the e-commerce companies are racing to embrace mobile, with some ditching their web platforms completely.  In the near future, m-commerce will be the way for the companies.

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