The application of the term “angel” to a kind of investor originally comes from Broadway Theater, where it was used to describe wealthy individuals who provided money for theatrical productions that would otherwise have had to shut down. In 1978, William Wetzel, then a professor at the University of New Hampshire and founder of its Center for Venture Research, completed a pioneering study on how entrepreneurs raised seed capital in the USA, and he began using the term “angel” to describe the investors that supported them. Over time, the term evolved and in the late 1970s began to be applied to early stage investment into companies of all different sectors. Angels invest their money in an entrepreneurial company, unlike institutional venture capitalists, who invest other people’s money.
Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Droom Technology Pvt. Ltd., is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, Internet visionary and a philanthropist. He is widely regarded as the father of marketplaces in India. He has founded two marketplaces in India so far – ShopClues, India’s first managed marketplaces in 2011, which became 5th Unicorn in Consumer Internet in India and Droom, India’s first marketplace for automobiles in 2014. Sandeep is immensely passionate about Digitizing India through mentoring startups, especially on entrepreneurship traits and skills.
Droom ─ Bindaas Ghoom
Headquartered in Gurgaon, India with a team size of 200+, Droom is a unique marketplace for buying and selling new and used automobiles. The platform has four marketplace formats i.e. B2C, C2C, C2B and B2B, and three pricing formats – Fixed Price, Best Offer and Auction. The platform offers a wide range of categories from bicycle to plane and all automobile services such as warranty, RSA, insurance and auto loan. It uses data science to build trust at scale with a US Patent technology called Full Circle Trust Score. Along with the de-facto pricing standard for used vehicles in India – OBV, Droom has built the entire ecosystem for India so that the transaction for used automobiles can take place with least degree of information asymmetry and morale hazard.
The automobile platform is category, seller, price, condition, and geography agnostic. It has built tech and data science heavy tools to create the entire ecosystem around used automobiles. The company provides reliable and convenient new and used automobile buying solutions to their consumers in 18 different vehicle categories. These typically include vehicle services & repair, car care & detailing, roadside assistance, warranty, and auto inspection. This diversification of services has ensured that Droom has today established its position as a highly advanced, one-of-its-kind platform in India providing end-to-end, 360-degree assistance to its users.
Empowering Employees and Fostering their Ingenuity
Sandeep’s style of leadership is empowering others so that people can unleash their true passion and he is quite stylistically straightforward and honest, which also reflects in the work culture at Droom. Leveraging innovation in his organization, Sandeep focuses on adaptations, prototyping and fast iterations, creating a great value proposition for the user through the product that is released by his team. Moreover, under Sandeep’s leadership, the entire team at Droom is allowed full creative freedom and is motivated to experiment and celebrate failures and successes equally. This allows them to learn, grow and develop together along with the organization.
His differentiated approach has reaped rich dividends for Droom. “Both mine and Droom’s vision can be summed up in one sentence — with passion and long-term vision, creating disruption through technology and adding great value to the online automobile buying experience for our users,” asserts Sandeep.
An All-round Expertise
In his prior career, as one of the most popular and prominent Internet analysts in the US, Sandeep provided research coverage on global Internet giants such as Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Expedia, Priceline, Netflix, DigitalRiver, GSI Commerce etc. In September 2010 Sandeep wrote a sector defining report for the Indian Internet and also launched research coverage on MakeMyTrip. Prior to Wall Street, Sandeep worked with technology giant Microsoft with senior leadership team and ran strategy planning for Schwab.com in San Francisco. Sandeep has also worked with Kotak Mahindra and as a co-founder of a small boutique investment banking firm.
Sandeep has an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and Bachelors in Commerce from Kurukshetra University from India. He is a Charter Member of TiE Silicon Valley. He is also counted amongst leading Internet experts globally.
Tenacious Team and Thriving Technology
Technology, given the difference it can make for any new-age business, is at the core of what the Droom Team is trying to achieve. They have developed and implemented several proprietary technologies in order to bring in greater convenience, enhanced transparency and better experience for their users. All these developments have helped them in furthering their brand vision and have played a key role in establishing Droom as the leading player in the Indian online automobile segment.
With a handful number of people in their customer support division, the company is ably supported by machine learning and Al in data sciences that form the core of their processes. This focus on tech ensures that they can manage a seller-robot communication without an error, as automation in notification processes can help us identify and notify sellers about any developments about their listings without any delay. Moreover, it also allows them to make highly tailored recommendations to sellers which optimize the performance of their listings.
The 3rd or 4th largest E-commerce company in India in terms of annualized GMV
Droom has exponentially grown since their operational launch just over sixteen years ago, and have seen the GMV drive through their platform grow by 1472 times to reach $160 million. Droom is currently doing $510 million in annualized GMV growing at the rate of 350% Y/Y, 150k auto dealers (largest auto dealers’ platform in India), presence in 500+ cities across India (largest hyper local marketplace), 20+ million monthly visitors, nearly 5.6+ million app downloads and 4.75+ million Facebook community.
Droom has the best unit economics as compared to any other E-commerce platform in India. The company spends less than 5% of GMV to run marketing and the entire cost of the company is less than 4% of GMV in terms of the net burn. It is the only E-commerce platform which has successfully built the cost advantage and sophistication of the tech platforms with the strong data science layer, nobody else has been able to do it in India.