Start-up gets seed funding from JobsCentral, Zopim founders

SINGAPORE - Singapore automotive platform has secured an undisclosed sum in seed funding from JobsCentral's co-founders Lim Der Shing and Huang Shao-Ning, as well as Zopim's co-founder Royston Tay. JobsCentral is an online job search platform, while Zopim is an online live chat software start-up that was acquired by US-based Zendesk in 2014.

Motorist will use the funds to expand its business to Thailand in 2019. The company already has offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Founded in 2015, Motorist's main revenue comes from the commission that its partners pay for every car they purchase via its platform. About 350 to 400 vehicles are transacted each month.

The start-up said it is profitable, and that to date, the platform has transacted more than 9,200 vehicles worth over $176 million.

Chief executive Damian Sia told The Business Times: "The concept of car bidding isn't new, but there are some platforms that actually belong to used car dealers. When car dealers become car-bidding platforms, there is a conflict of interest. This is because their business model is to purchase cars from car owners at low prices and resell them at a higher price."

Motorist maintains neutrality by getting the highest price for car owners transparently, said Mr Sia. "For every vehicle transaction, we will never hold or own the customer's vehicle. It always goes directly from customer to dealer."

After focusing on vehicle transactions during the first three years of operation, the company is now looking at the car management aspect of vehicle ownership. It provides a number of services for car owners, such as online car valuation, scrapping and exporting of cars, and motor insurance renewal.

Motorist intends to have another round of fundraising in mid-2019.

"I chose to invest in because it has enormous growth potential in not only Singapore, but also the Asean region," said Zopim co-founder Mr Tay.

"The company offers a unique service to car owners, disrupting the usual automotive model we have grown accustomed to."