Meet the 24-year-old American prodigy set to disrupt SA’s used car industry - within the next two years
- A company founded by a 24-year old American Sujay Tyle, 24, is set to shake up the South African used-car market
- His company received a R1.1 billion ($89m) cash injection from JSE-listed Naspers.
- Tyle, who was admitted to Harvard at age 15, has been named a Forbes 30 under 30 and one of Goldman Sachs’ top 100 "intriguing entrepreneurs".
- His company Frontier Car Group promises to sell used vehicles within 45 minutes, paperwork included.
Twenty-four-year-old American Sujay Tyle's company Frontier Car Group (FCG) aims to become the largest player in the second-hand car market in South Africa within the next two years.
FCG recently raised R1.1 billion ($89m) from JSE-listed Naspers. FCG will be partnering with Naspers’ classified service OLX in several emerging markets including South Africa.
Vehicle owners who want to sell their car on OLX will soon get the option to sell it through FCG's auction platform, says Tyle.
Here's how the platform works:
- Vehicle owners bring their cars to one of three inspection lots in the country, where a quick inspection and document check are conducted.
- Details and photographs of the car are uploaded to the FCG platform.
- Registered dealers can bid for the vehicles from their cellphone or computers in a live auction.
“Fleet owners, similarly can offload their entire fleet of vehicles through us with the same service,” Tyle says.
He says he is particularly excited about launching in South Africa where Naspers already has a “world-class” team and vast operations.
Tyle's Berlin-based start-up has sold 50,000 cars in Nigeria, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Tyle, who went to Harvard University at age 15, is disrupting the way second-hand cars get sold, moving the process online and helping car owners to sell their vehicles within 45 minutes at "a fair price".
“The process of selling your car, which is simple in places like Europe, is extremely difficult in emerging markets,” Tyle told Business Insider South Africa. He says aside from selling used cars through classifieds, which is a lengthy and somewhat risky process, second-hand car dealers struggle to find vehicle inventory.
“The system is broken."
Tyle, the son of two Indian immigrants in the US, has been included in the 'Forbes 30 under 30 list' in 2015 and is one of Goldman Sachs’ 'top 100 intriguing entrepreneurs'.
“My parents have always been very, very focused on the education my brother and I (receive), and I think they taught us to push the status quo as much as possible.”
Initially, he wanted a career in science and started work at the University of Rochester's chemical engineering lab at age 11.
“I really really wanted to work, I wanted to get that experience in a lab,” Tyle explains. “Obviously somebody my age, especially then, couldn’t get an opportunity like that.”
“So, I got every email address I could find in order to try and get into contact with people that would hire me to do lab research." After many attempts, a professor allowed him to work in the lab.
After working there over holidays and on weekday afternoons for five years, and helping to develop an enzyme that would make bioethanol easier to commercialise, Tyle was admitted to Harvard when he was 15. Three years later, he received a Thiel Scholarship, an award to people under the age of twenty-two granting them $100,000 (or R1,3 million) to start companies - instead of completing their university degrees.
“The first realisation [upon starting the Thiel scholarship], was that while I am very interested in energy, it would take a lot of capital - a lot of capital! - to commercialise biofuels idea.”
“I actually wanted to get my hands dirty with a product that could be [brought] to market very quickly so that’s how I got very interested in consumer technology.”
Through the scholarship, Tyle helped launch recruitment website Hired.com, now worth over a $100 million, before attending both the Harvard law school and the Harvard Business school. He started FCG two and a half years ago.
Tyle says with FCG he specifically wanted to invest in emerging markets, because of the eventual scale and impact disruption could have.
“[In] emerging markets, we hear every single day that people have used us [and] it is dramatically different than anything they’ve used before - I think I am proud to have a part in doing that.”
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? Take risks and think 'global'.
“Look outside where you live and where you’ve grown up, because it's easy to feel like all the problems are being solved by existing companies - but globally there are many more [problems]."
“And take risks early in your life…. if everybody truly took massive risks I think people can change the world in a significant way.”
Business Insider SA is part of 24.com, a subsidiary of Media24, a Naspers company.
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