The most unexpected thing you’ll learn about Eric Cheng is that he is a college dropout.
The co-founder and group CEO of Carsome, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated car e-commerce platform has had quite a tumultuous journey dabbling in various start-ups. As a serial entrepreneur who eventually found his footing in success, he remains humble and is only too happy in divulging his experiences all in hopes that it might someday also inspire another success story.
“Right after my Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exams in school, I found myself studying accountancy, but in my second year of college I began to have doubts,” reveals Eric.
“I couldn’t see my future as an accountant. That’s when I knew I shouldn’t stick with it any longer and ultimately made the decision to drop out and look for a job.”
With his initial pursuit motivated by the age old quest in making more money, now at 36 years of age, Eric looks back at his rollercoaster career path which led him to discover professional growth.
From joining a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme for ten months, to starting a short-lived household magazine known as Media Focus in 2006, Eric, who is also an avid gamer, turned to the multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. With its popularity in the e-sports arena and the enticing revenue its players earn, Eric believed it to be a new source in gaining capital to start another venture.
When the game’s founding company Blizzard Entertainment lost a lawsuit, Eric too found himself losing all the money he had earned from the hundreds of hours spent on the game. Forced to pick up the pieces, he had to push through from a dark place and start all over again.
It was in 2008 when Eric decided to rejoin the workforce with a digital media agency called Innity. There, he spent eight years rising the ranks from sales executive to senior account manager, and finally account director.
Equipped with digital skills, it wasn’t long until his entrepreneurial itch revisited him, prompting Eric to start his own advertising network and creative agency which he eventually sold off after nine months.
“The whole entrepreneurial mindset has always been embedded in me and is reflected in my day-to-day approach to life. No matter what, it seems I always circled back towards starting my own venture,” says Eric.
Leveraging on his experiences, together with his then- colleague and now co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer, Teoh Jiun Ee, the pair started Carsome in 2015.
Beginning as a car comparison website, Carsome transformed into an integrated car e-commerce platform specialising in selling and buying used cars within the span of 6 months.
“Truthfully, I found the typical process of selling and buying cars a headache. There was, and still exists a lot of distrust and lack of transparency when it comes to dealing cars. The general public is not fond of the traditional process of trading with car dealers,” says Eric.
“With Carsome, we use technology to streamline this process and provide transparency to sellers and buyers alike. We want to give the people our trust and the feeling of being in control of the process that’s worry free,” adds Eric.
Carsome employs a 360 approach in the entire car-selling and buying process. Through its 24 centres across Malaysia, it provides on-the-spot car inspection and pricing – which you may accept and sell to Carsome directly, or choose to list the car up for online bidding – then eventually ownership transfer and payment.
“We aim to help people sell their cars within an hour and to offer the best price possible in the country. Buying a car on our platform is literally just three clicks away and we deliver it to your doorstep,” says Eric.
Seeing tremendous growth within its first year, Carsome Singapore was launched in 2016 and the following year saw it expand to Thailand and Indonesia.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Carsome is also weighing going public in the U.S., in a deal that would make it Malaysia’s first unicorn. It is seeking for a valuation of about USD2 billion (RM8.3 billion) in listing either in merger or the conventional initial public offering (IPO) by end of the year.
“Yes, we are working very hard towards taking Carsome public. At the moment I’m 100 per cent committed in growing the company as much as possible,” says Eric.
Moving forward, Eric expects to hustle on and continue to reach new milestones, but at the same time shares a personal ambition that’s close to his heart.
“I want to contribute more of my experience and see more Malaysian entrepreneurs pursue their dreams. As an entrepreneur who has been through the ringer, I think our talent definitely have the capabilities to go international,” he says. “In the journey between reaching success, sleepless nights, and facing numerous adversities, it is important to stay true to yourself and be persistent. If you want to start your own business, you need to be very focused in pursuing that dream. It’s all about the mindset towards reaching the ultimate goal.”
Read full story in Prestige Malaysia’s July 2021 issue on Magzter.
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