Martín Salassa, CEO & Co-Founder of Cárbula tells us about new ways of selling and buying cars.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Martín Salassa: Thanks for asking Kossi. My family and I are healthy and strong, despite that at times, it’s not been easy to adapt to this new normal, especially for the children.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cárbula.
Martín Salassa: I’m a 39 years old entrepreneur with a knack for design and digital business development, born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina, in the skirts of “Los Andes mountains,” pretty near Santiago de Chile, Chile.
My co-founder Nicolás and I have known each other for 13 years, and in 2019, after having founded together a co-working space and a business incubator, among other things, and worked together in a company related to automotive financing, we saw a massive problem: even though nearly 10,000 used cars are sold every single day between Argentina and Chile, and the number rises up to 100,000 units per day in the USA market, the entire process is still pretty much the same as 100 years ago: Full of pain points, insecure and expensive.
From this point, the short story is that we used the power of technology to create a new way to sell and buy used cars between direct owners.
We launched a pretty humble pmv in WordPress, and customers started showing up from day one.
How does Cárbula innovate?
Martín Salassa: We got rid of the entire old way of selling and buying a car, creating a marketplace that connects people in a much safer environment, adding a lot of value for our customers.
Using our platform, owners sell for 25% more in 15 days or less, and buyers buy home-delivered inspected cars for 10% less. All this, without doing anything. We handle everything.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Martín Salassa: It doesn’t! In 2020 we reached our breaking point, we sold more than 100 cars, and we grew 30% MoM (revenue).
This new normal sped up the user’s adoption of our value proposition. Of course, it was not easy, but by definition, we entrepreneurs are resilient, and within the context of this pandemic of global scope, we show it, and I’m very proud of it.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Martín Salassa: We realized we needed it to set ground rules again in terms of work relationships. So we created our “Work from home policies.”
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Martín Salassa: Well, we worked hard to adapt the entire process of buying and selling a car 100% virtual.
Nowadays, we inspect cars remotely, we offer virtual test drives (using video technology), we use biometric validation technology to do all the paperwork legally, and we do home delivery of our cars.
The world changed… the way of selling and buying cars, too.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Martín Salassa: In 2019 we were selected by Start-Up Chile (one of the top innovations hubs of LATAM) as one of the most promising startups in the region. They gave us an invaluable toolkit to start our operations in Chile. Nowadays, 90% of our revenues come from this operation.
Your final thoughts?
Martín Salassa: The world changed… the way of selling and buying cars, too.
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