When Niraj Singh started up Spinny, the used-car market in India was already crowded with cash-rich competitors. More and more Indian buyers were leaning towards buying pre-owned cars because of the better value they offered but the landscape was still full of potholes and barriers. There were few trusted intermediaries, and no convenient way for buyers to go through the sea of options or for sellers to find the right price. That is where Spinny came in.
Niraj Singh founded the full-stack platform for buying and selling used cars in 2015, together with friends Ramanshu Mahaur, a fellow alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi, and Mohit Gupta, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad, who moved from Flipkart to join as operations head. A car lover himself, Singh wanted to address the pain points in the sale and purchase of a used car.
“When you’re buying your first car, it’s a very important, very aspirational, very emotional purchase for you, and your entire family. It was very clear that we are not going just after the used-car market opportunity, but we are going to solve (an issue) of trust, experience and aspirations of people,” he said in an interview with Pankaj Mishra, co-founder of the digital media publication FactorDaily, a journalist tracking start-ups, with over two-and-a-half decades of professional experience.
Sellers put in a request to sell their cars on the website. If it passes a 200-point test by an inspection team, Spinny sets a price, features the car on the site, and takes over the responsibility of selling the car. Buyers have the assurance of buying a Spinny-certified vehicle and the added benefit of a 1-year warranty. The company takes care of all the paperwork, from registration to title transfers.
Among others, Spinny competes with OLX, Quikr and CarDekho in a market that was valued at $23 billion in the financial year 2021-2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 per cent until FY 2026-27, according to a report by IndianBlueBook, an auto technology platform, and Das WeltAuto, the pre-owned car business of Volkswagen India.
After starting operations in the National Capital Region (NCR), centered on Delhi, Spinny has expanded into Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Indore, Coimbatore, Lucknow and Kochi. It became a unicorn with a valuation of about $1.8 billion, when it raised $283 million last year from a consortium led by Abu Dhabi-based ADQ, Tiger Global and Avenir Growth.
This interview is part of a special series brought to you by the Indian unit of Accel Partners, which has backed some of the most significant marketplaces that have come up in India including food delivery platform Swiggy, e-commerce company Flipkart, TaxiForSure, which offers ride-hailing services, and Urban Company, a provider of home cleaning, appliance repair, beauty treatment and handymen services to customers at their doorstep.
Joining Pankaj Mishra in the chat is Niraj Singh, who at the time of founding Spinny, already had two start-ups behind him – TechMonkey, an Internet media company, and Locus Education, an IIT-JEE prep venture with offline and online presence. They dive into the details of going from a marketplace model to a direct full-stack model, the business of trust, and the basic rules of team building.