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Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan’s startup finds success with affordable transportation options

Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan’s used-two-wheeler startup is successful. Coimbatore-based DriveX, formed by India’s first Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan and his buddy Christopher Anand Sargunam, refurbishes secondhand two-wheelers and offers a new vehicle buying experience.
Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan’s used-two-wheeler startup is successful.

World’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer is India. Indian industry group SIAM reports over 20 million two-wheeler transactions yearly. Over the past several years, demand for used two-wheelers has increased with market expansion. There are few organized companies in the pre-owned two-wheeler sector.

Narain Karthikeyan, India’s first Formula 1 driver, founded DriveX with boyhood buddy Christopher Anand Sargunam in 2020 to capitalize on the market opportunity. The Coimbatore startup offers economical transportation options.

Christopher, DriveX’s co-founder, CTO, and COO, recalls that Karthikeyan raised the issue of cheap mobility in India and how technology could solve it during a COVID-19 lockdown meeting. Christopher has managed digital and innovation projects at Lehman Brothers, Nomura, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Two-wheeler refurbishment

DriveX originated as a digital platform that lets people subscribe to and buy two-wheelers at inexpensive pricing. No down cost and a monthly membership fee that includes vehicle access, maintenance, insurance, and tyres and batteries are also available.

In 2021, the firm began refurbishing and selling secondhand two-wheelers. Refurbished vehicles come with warranty, finance, after-sales service, dependability, and paperwork.

“Although the subscription model was successful in the metros, we realised that consumers, particularly from Tier II and below cities, preferred the conventional form of ownership,” says Karthikeyan.

While working with hundreds of customers, DriveX became aware of some of the difficulties pre-owned vehicle buyers face, including lack of finance, a market dominated by unregistered local financiers, difficulty finding high-quality vehicles, and lack of flexibility in switching to a different vehicle or using a vehicle for a shorter term.

DriveX established a business strategy around sourcing, refurbishing, finance, and technology to address this vacuum in the mobility industry.

Traditional consumers, OEMs, and auto dealers supply it. DriveX Technical Centres are state-of-the-art refurbishing facilities for periodic/unscheduled vehicle repair. These automobiles are certified for sale after a 120-point inspection. Customers receive a warranty after purchase.

DriveX will help mainstream NBFCs and banks refinance automobiles with quick loan approval, reduced rates, and down payments. The firm employs unique technology to examine automobiles, manage technical centers, monitor vehicle whereabouts, and offer autos with loan alternatives.

Working in the unorganized secondhand two-wheeler industry has been their biggest hurdle, according to the founders.

Karthikeyan says, “While unorganised fragmented dealers across the country are focused on maximising sourcing and margins, we at DriveX aim to create a strategic and transparent ecosystem for renewed two-wheelers, which are sustainable and maintain the manufacturer’s brand position.

“Our work involves collaboration with all stakeholders such as OEMs, banks, NBFCs, insurance companies, and service providers,” he says.

BeepKart, CredR, and others offer comparable services throughout the nation.
Funding and growth

DriveX started with friends and family funding. After FY 2021–22, the business sought Series A investment.

The business raised Rs 85.41 crore from TVS Motor business in August 2022 to purchase 48.27% of NMMSPL (Nkars Mobility Millennial Solutions Private Limited) through main and secondary investments.

Within 12 months of debut, the firm opened two refurbishment and four fulfilment centers, growing 40% M-o-M. Company sales increased ~17x in FY 21-22 compared to the previous year.

DriveX plans to retail approximately 7,000 automobiles a year and open 50 locations in major Tier I and Tier II cities and five refurbishment centers.

It earned Rs 45-50 lakh in FY21 and Rs 8 crore in FY22.

The firm makes much of its money selling and servicing used two-wheelers. In addition to COCO DTCs and showrooms, DriveX features a franchise concept.

DriveX Technical Centre opened in Coimbatore in February 2023, with Hosur and Chennai following.

The Coimbatore Technical Centre can restore 350 to 400 two-wheelers a month and equip multi-brand models with DriveX-specific ELGI gear.
Plan ahead

DriveX plans to open technology centers around India. It plans to retail over 6,000 automobiles a year and open 50 stores and five refurb centers in Tier I and Tier II cities. DriveX now targets franchisees nationwide.

The startup is seeking technicians, tinkerers, and artists to create a 10X scaling environment. It also works with training colleges to hire ITI graduates.

Sunil Pandey
Sunil Pandey

The business professional who loves penning down his thoughts/ insights on business, entrepreneurship, & startups. His ability to break down complex business concepts into easy & concise write-ups makes him a wonderful author. He believes that writing is a powerful tool for communication and education.

Sunil Pandey
The business professional who loves penning down his thoughts/ insights on business, entrepreneurship, & startups. His ability to break down complex business concepts into easy & concise write-ups makes him a wonderful author. He believes that writing is a powerful tool for communication and education.

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