With a consultancy background and over 7 years work experience working for one of the top consultancy firms in Europe, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, Stefan Haubold, Carmudi co-founder and global MD left Roland Berger to start his own company catering to dogs and cats as his early retirement.
For sometime, he was quite successful and content with his company until Rocket Internet approached him early 2014 to grow Carmudi globally.
“For me it has always been important to be responsible for the things I am doing, that is also why I left consultancy (I learnt everything from there), but now it is time to be operationally involved,” Haubold tells TechMoran. “Pet business was about conquering a new market, about building something up from scratch. Carmudi caters in a similar way to the needs of the people, we provide a service the people are waiting for.”
According to Haubold, the most challeging bit with his new job has been to find the right people with the same entrepreneurial spirit to build something up as the firm operates in over 20 markets and is trying to get each market to the same speed.
Below is the entire interview;
TM:Which market is the poorest or worst perfoming in Africa?
Stefan Haubold: That is a tricky question. Hard to define what is the “poorest”. Bangladesh might look similar to some market in Africa, In general, in all our markets people are buying and selling “transportation”, i.e. they have the financial means to do so, and they have more and more access to the internet, that is the basis for our business model.
We wouldn’t go in any market where we don’t see a need and/or a potential
Is it true that Africa a mobile-first market?
What we see in our markets is that people don’t start using a desktop our laptop first. Their direct acccess point to the internet is a smartphone. Everything is done through a phone as people often not able to afford a laptop, etc. From that perspective yes, but internet penetration is still comparable low and also behavior needs to change. Some of our work is also to explain the advantages of internet, of an online marketplace to regular customers.
Any upcoming CSR initiative by Carmudi or Rocket Internet to get everyone online?
I am afraid I cannot comment on our shareholders. Sorry, Rocket Internet is our founding shareholder, but I am not in the position to talk about their strategy, only about Carmudi’s operations which I am globally heading.
When it comes to Carmudi, we are educating the market in some form, explaining every single professional dealer why he should go online.
1. Greater reach, can show his cars to people he has never been in contact before.
2. Able to do business outside the regular office hours.
3. Can sell his cars much faster.
Is the car classifieds market is shrinking?
There is a huge market opportunity out there, only a fraction of the people are informing themselves about cars online. Imagine when we see a market penetration of half the size as in Europe in Africa. Also look at valuations of our peers Eg. Autotrader in the US got sold for USD 7bn and similar figures were called up for our German and English pendants.
What are you doing as Carmudi to curb online fraud?
1. We have personal relations to our professional sellers, our sales team is basically “living” in the markets, they regularly talk to the professional sellers and can verify the cars.
2. We educate/inform our customers about what to watch out when buying/selling a car.
3. We verify every listing before it gets up.
Data or impulse?
At the end of the day Carmudi is a business. We only can exist if we know our customers and their needs. Of course, running a company of that size can only based on numbers, how else do you want to evaluate success and react to customer concerns.
You have raised significant amounts of money for global expansion, what’s your budget for Africa?
I can’t give you a figure. We have strong investors which provided us with the means to win every single market in Africa, and we are still entering new markets here. You can assume there is no shortage of resources to do so.
There are a number of auto classified platforms in these markets already. How are you unique? how do you aim to win the markets?
We don’t see that strong competition in our markets. Look where we are already after – better only – one year into the markets. We are the brand in the car dealer community, having strong partners as MTN or Rocket Internet.
We have a world-class product, just relaunched our website, bring in the knowledge from 20 markets, being the most professional actor in the markets, with sales teams in the markets from anywhere between 5 and 80 people depending on the market.
Where do you expect Carmudi to be, say in 2 years?
In 2 years from now, everyone will consult us when they need to sell or buy a car, want to have the latest price or just want to read what is going on in the industry.