Episode 91 / November 15, 2020

Inside the mind of Jay Vijayan, Founder & CEO, Tekion, Ex-CIO, Tesla

hr min

Episode 91 / November 15, 2020

Inside the mind of Jay Vijayan, Founder & CEO, Tekion, Ex-CIO, Tesla

hr min
Listen on

In this episode of 100xEntrepreneur Podcast, we take you through Jay Vijayan’s journey from working with Tesla, VMware, Oracle to building a Billion Dollar Company, Tekion.

Tekion has raised $150 million as part of its Series C financing led by private equity firm Advent International, at over $1 billion valuation.

Jay’s insights which we discuss during the podcast are on –

00:58 – From working at Oracle, VMware, & Tesla to Founding Tekion

05:21 – From bootstrapping to getting VC funding

10:25 – Thoughts on Founder & VC alignment

13:40 – Challenges for startups in the Automotive retail industry

16:13 – Building a single platform for OEMs, dealers & customers

22:25 – Getting General Motors, Nissan–Mitsubishi, FM Capital, Exor (Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari) on Tekion’s cap table

24:02 – Developing end-to-end solution for Mid-Small Dealers – Automotive Retail Cloud

31:08 – ARR growth

42:19 – Creating transparency for customers while buying a new car

49:52 – “Life is a never-ending journey of learnings”.

54:58 – What has always stopped him from settling down?

58:19 – “When an egg-shell break from within – Life begins, but when it breaks from outside – Life ends.”- Jay’s philosophy on continuously pushing himself

1:03:25 – What made Elon Musk approach Jay twice in a span of 12 months for the CIO role at Tesla

1:14:17 – What core things he learned from working with Elon at Tesla?

Read the full transcript here:

Siddhartha 0:00

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia. Welcome to the 100x Entrepreneur podcast. Today I have with me Jay Vijayan, founder and CEO of Tekion. Jay, welcome to the podcast.


Jay 0:12

Thank you, Siddhartha. Glad to be here. Looking forward to a great conversation with you


Siddhartha 0:16

Jay, first of all, congratulations, you took Tekion to a unicorn status. That’s an amazing feat for a founder.


Jay 0:24

Thank you. Thank you, Siddhartha, for the wishes. Yeah. I think it’s a great milestone. Definitely something we all feel good about. But for me, I think it’s a great feeling on top of it when I know a lot of money brings a lot of power, a lot of power brings a lot of responsibility. So I feel now I have a lot more responsibility on our shoulders to deliver, and then continue to scale and grow.


Siddhartha 0:55

Yeah, I remember, that’s a quote from the movie Spider Man.


Jay 0.59

Yeah. Stanley’s quote about great power comes with great responsibility. Yeah, absolutely.


Siddhartha 1.05

So Jay, I would like to start with the Tekion journey. And then I would go backwards. But first, why did you start Tekion and who all were the founders along with you in the Tekion journey.


Jay 1: 16

So yeah, the purpose of starting, just my seed idea of potentially starting a company has been there for a very long time with me. And it probably, I would say, solidified a bit when I was at Oracle, used to be in the Oracle engineering, product development teams, developing ERP, RP, Rp. And that was where I felt now your piece can be much simpler. It doesn’t have to be this complex. It doesn’t have to be this boring. It can be fun, similar to any consumer app that we use and feel good about day-to-day, but I don’t think many people feel good about using their business app, or ERP. It’s just a chore. So that’s just my first thought process seed idea of starting. Of course, I didn’t have the name and other things, nothing was there but the seed idea of starting the company. And it continued, and I had a phenomenal journey in VMware, right from IPO to its growth period. And I saw in the real world how a large, fast-growing company like VMware is spending its efforts and time to implement a large GRP like Oracle, right, they spent like hundreds of millions of dollars, it was a massive project, they had a failed project before. And after that, I joined the second time to lead to a turn around the second time, the same project was be initiated. And they named it as project Phoenix, and brought it to life. And we successfully, Of course, went live. And I saw a real-world like, you know what, how much companies are spending time and effort to do these things. And again, I felt you know, there is a better way to do these things. And then Tesla was a phenomenal opportunity to understand I never had any automotive experience prior to that. After joining, of course, all of it was high tech prior to that. And then once I joined Tesla, of course, Tesla is a very unique company, not a very typical automotive company. So, there was a lot of learning, I had to literally drink from the fire hose about everything learning about the automotive world, how automotive processes work, I was fortunate to hire a phenomenal team in a crazy short timeline, and then finally brought everything together, I would say had an opportunity to bring Elon’s vision to life in a very short timeframe. And then once we did that, that’s when I saw a stark difference in the traditional automotive world. How complicated things are, you know, automotive is 4% of US GDP, US GDP is $21 trillion. And, and 4% is $850 billion just in vehicle transactions, vehicle sales. And if you consider the entire ecosystem of automotive, it is almost a trillion-dollar ecosystem. That happens every year. And still, if you see outside of a few exceptions, vehicle buying vehicle servicing and vehicle and consumer engagement in automotive were very poor and very backward. And I felt there is an opportunity to really deliver a platform to elevate that experience for this trillion-dollar economy just in the US and we have global aspirations so we can think about the potential of what it could serve and what type of business we could bring and continue to develop. And that’s the premise of starting Tekion. We felt this is an opportunity worth going and developing and putting our efforts and time. And clearly, there was a lot of barriers to go through. But we felt this is worth the cost to go build that company. And that is the premise of starting Tekion.


Siddhartha 5:18

Wonderful. And can you share, like certain milestones in your Tekion journey like, when did you form the company? When did you launch the first product out with a few challenges you faced? Because it’s like 100-year-old industry more than hundred-year-old industry, you’re trying to change?


Jay 5:39

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, good question. So, Tekion, we formed the company in early 2016. Okay. And then from that time onwards, I started with my personal money in Tekion, seed money. And then immediately, there there was one venture firm Storm ventures, which is a pretty solid, venture firm. And I had a friend who was a VC, and he was very interested in investing in whatever I do. It was a very nice feeling for an entrepreneur, when you have someone saying, Jay, whatever you do, I want to be investing in it. So that was a great opportunity. And then friends and family, I had some very clear parameters. So, one good thing is luckily for me, I’ve been investing in companies for I would say, somewhere between 10 to 12 years now on different companies, different sizes of companies. So I felt I had an opportunity to learn through that process, being an advisor, mentors, sometimes on board, and public company boards. So I had this opportunity to learn throughout that process. So, we were making very disciplined decisions. Oh, by the way, I forgot to answer your earlier question you said about co-founders. I want to mention, there were two key people who joined me immediately after I would consider them as co-founders, Guru Sankararaman. He was also a VP at Tesla with me. And then Anand Ramakotty, I think these are two key people who came about and continued the journey with me and they have phenomenal contributors to the success, growth, and success of Tekion. Now, going back to, you know, the continuing the other question. So we kind of took that journey in the early days, from 2016 onwards, we started developing the first MVP product, that time, we knew what we want to do, but what we wanted to do was literally like boiling the ocean for that particular industry, because the platform what we had envisioned was through ERP, for automotive and automotive retail, it really needs to have traditional ERP functionalities, like you know, managing inventory, vehicle inventory, parts inventory, you know, supply chain, accounting, general ledger, EPR, all of the important ones, these are done only by, you know this industry, well only by large corporations, which are massive, like Oracle and SAP and, you know, now workdays slowly trying to get there, but still a long way to go.


Siddhartha 8:46

All billion-dollar companies.


Jay 8:48

Exactly. Yeah, absolutely several 10s of billions of dollars of companies, right. And they’ve been in existence for many, three, four decades. So it’s a five-decade. So, it’s a very complex space.


Siddhartha 9:06

I would say the highest barriers of entry you could choose.


Jay 9:09

Exactly, exactly, there are so many things that could go wrong. That’s why you won’t see too many startups coming and disrupting this space. It takes decades to disrupt any space like this. So and I know for sure that many companies fail. So we took that heavy lifting, but we had to lay the path the building blocks. So one thing we decided to do, that’s why you wouldn’t have seen prior to the our billion-dollar valuation and Series C announcement you wouldn’t have seen a lot of news about Tekion, in fact, we kept it under wraps for four years. We kept it very, very silent. We didn’t want to go ahead and advertise before we have a good product. So that is the part which I felt. We continue to keep that discipline forward. So we did a series A and In fact, we were not going to raise capital or we were not looking for capital. And luckily, we had few VCs, well known VC brands reached out to us at that time. And during the day, you know, we came to know from, you know, Silicon Valley is connected, it’s a small world, people come to know even though we kept very silent, people came to know and then few VCs reached out to me through my connections network, and said, Can we have a meeting and we started meeting with them. And they were very interested, they said, you know, very intriguing Jay, what you’re doing. And we would love to invest. So this is when, you know, the first time I actively talked, of course, even though Storm ventures invested, it was great. No strings attached. No, board seat, I was very fortunate that they’re still phenomenal supporters for us. Now, bigger VCs, we started talking to them. And this is when you will see the differentiation between VCs, right? So, I started noticing this, some other VCs were like, you know what they, as part of the process, even during the discussion, they will start giving me very strong advice like, Oh, you shouldn’t do this, or you should focus on this, you should do a small portion of this. Why are you trying to take on too much and biting too much about this? So some of these things as an entrepreneur, for me? It’s not, I would say, good alignment. I don’t want because I’m clear on what I’m going to do. So I don’t want someone to come on. Yes, they can give advice. I appreciate the advice. I appreciate all of their experience. But end of the day, it’s my decision, because otherwise they shouldn’t be even investing. If they think I’m focusing on the wrong thing. They shouldn’t be investing. The nice thing, luckily, we have a few other investors and the investor who finally led the series A was index ventures, and they were absolutely phenomenal from the first meeting, I could see that alignment. You know, how humble and nice I mean, Mike Wolpe on my board. I mean, super accomplished guy he has invested in like, you know, so many companies like, you know, from Dropbox to slack to Confluence, Kafka, Elasticsearch, some of the coolest tech companies. And he was also on the board of Fiat Chrysler, and Ferrari, which is an automotive company, which is very aligned for me. And for me, it was a no brainer, and the way he approached and how he understood what we were trying to solve. And that was a very clear alignment. And we decided to go with Index ventures as our lead for series A, and then we continued the journey. What happened after that was, of course, we created an MVP product in 2017, the first version of the product itself, and we had a very clear path, he said, you know, we are trying to boil the ocean, but at least let’s make sure that we don’t, you know, sit and waste time for years because the market would have moved and I had a very clear path and what we wanted to do. So we said, you know, let’s start focusing on the first area to roll out a version of the product to our customers, paying customers. And then let’s start the feedback loop. We’re going to learn a lot more. So our team, we were lucky to have a lot of dealers who supported so our team product and design team spent tons of time at dealerships. literally in few dealerships in and around where we live. We had they’ve even given us an office to set. And then OEMs also slowly with the series A investment Exor came in, which is the parent company of Fiat, Chrysler, and Ferrari. So we started a conversation with some OEMs. But during this process, a few things found was the industry was so backward, the processes were, I would say extraordinarily bureaucratic. So the simplest example, I could give is the first version of MVP, when we got the product ready. Version one, we call it as digital service experience, focused on vehicle service solving the problem only for vehicle service. And we went and demoed to quite a few dealers and dealers saw that and they all wowed, they said in our product is great. This is exactly what we’ve been looking for. This is a leapfrog of, you know, everything that is out here. So, we would love to become your customer. Then they also said, you know, unfortunately, we will lose a few compliance requirements from the OEM, and basically, they have to certify your product before you roll out to our dealerships. And I said, Okay, we’ll see that that’s a longer process. I know OEMs because of the nature of how big they are. It takes time for them to do anything. So for our startup, as you know, well, every month you’re burning cash if you don’t have revenue, so I don’t have the runway to have a discussion with an OEM, it takes a year, two years, three years to get certification with OEMs. Because they move really slow. I started engaging with the OEMs. And first, you know, they wouldn’t take meetings, then I had to push, try to get my connections and at least get a meeting. And luckily, with my background, finally, I was able to get meetings. And you know, meetings would go like this, we will do a demo complete walkthrough of the prototype in a pilot dealerships, there are a couple of dealerships who are very brave to roll out the product, and they said, You know what, it’s fine, we’ll support you. And even if we are not fully compliant, we may lose some, you know, credits or money, but we will do it. And thanks to them, and we will show the full demo. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) teams would come, they would see it, there will be a dozen people in the room, they’ll say, Wow, okay, good, great product, everything is good. But unfortunately, you know, we have process we have rules, and we can really break them, it takes a long time for anything to get done, we can’t get it done, like the way you think. And on top of it, the final the punch line was, you know, we won’t engage with any company until they have like atleast 50 or 100, minimum hundred dealerships on the platform. So for me, it was like, Oh, my god, that was a shock. Like, how, how does this happen? It’s like a chicken and egg problem. I can’t even roll out to one customer, one dealer. If the OEMs don’t certify. And OEMs are saying I can’t even talk to you if you don’t have at least hundred dealerships. So it was a problem that I needed to solve. How am I going to break this? And it was been quite a bit disappointing for me, especially as a founder like where does the product go from here because we spent so much time and effort. So that was the point where these are barriers that we had to make. This is just one example there are like so many intertwine the old way of doing things. They didn’t even realize what what kind of roadblock and you know, concrete walls they have built around themselves and for innovation to happen. So I had to slowly break through that. And some of the times, we had to do different kinds of things. So one of the things,I was lucky to get a demo going for one of the top leaders who is one of the topmost OEMs, which has invested in us, the president of that company, and one of the dealer created that FaceTime for me to show a demo. And then he was very impressed. Still things didn’t move. So finally, I had to send a strong email to him in a nice way polite, but strong email to say, You know why they are literally curbing innovation and in spite of everyone feeling during their dealers, including their team feeling this is an innovative product. Why are you blocking? This was not really him. But it’s saying the processes, what you’ve created over decades, are literally putting barriers and I said, you know, if innovation need to happen, and if you need to be relevant for today and the future, we need to break these barriers. And that started opening doors. So once one OEM start opening doors, then few dealers came in. So it was a cycle, I’m just shortening it for you. It was a process that we went through over a couple of years. And the first two years, were the toughest, then we started getting customers one by one. And then we continue to enhance put the development going. So then our Series B happened. So what happened during Series B was the product first version was launched, we had a few paying customers, then we started getting interest from a couple of VCs, then I also felt it’s the right time to raise capital, I started pitching to quite a few other VCs as well. So it was a good combination of experience similar to our series A, Series B was a little bit lengthier process, where, you know, same problem, some of the VCs were extraordinarily binary, you know, when I say binary, because I’ve been on both sides, you know, investing, as well as on the entrepreneurial side. Yes, investment is for getting a return. But at the same time, it’s important to understand what the entrepreneur is trying to solve. So many VCs are super binary, they won’t try to understand the industry, they won’t try to understand as much they will have an opinion and they’ll immediately do only binary calculation of like, Okay, if you do this, if you do this, you Only you can do this much and I don’t think there is too many barriers to this. So it was a combination of experience and then And we still got a couple of strong interest from VCs. And luckily, that’s when a couple more institutions came in, you know, Alliance ventures, which is Nissan Renault and Mitsubishi Alliance. From the institution point of view, they gave a term sheet to lead our Series B, around the same time immediately after Alliance, BMW gave a term sheet as well, BMW ventures. So which was nice for me.


Siddhartha 20:31

So I just wanted to ask for the listeners, if you can share the quantum of series A Series B,


Jay 20:39

Yeah, yeah.


Siddhartha 20:39

Because it is difficult to understand, like, what was the amount, what was the valuation?



I think I can share. So series A was to be raised 10 million at around $48 million Post value. Yeah. And then series B, we ended up raising. So I’ll talk about Series B now. So Series B, we had VC interests, we had institutions, which is Alliance and BMW to lead. And of course, in the best interest of the company, we are solving a larger problem for the industry. So I wanted as many OEM brands to be part of this journey. And that was a very thoughtful decision. Because in the past, for companies, which had failed, I had seen that one of the biggest thing is not getting the OEM connection and integration and support on time. So I felt, you know, this is important for us. So we worked with both Alliance and BMW and requested them, can you come together? So they did, which was great. And initially, they were a little bit hesitant. And because of course, they had egos. They wanted to do be the lead. But finally they came together, and it worked out phenomenally well for everyone. And they both call it my Series B. And so Series B, let me think, was 20. Yeah. 22. Yeah, I think it’s 22 million. If I’m right. We raised only 22 million Series B at 90. I think it was 98 million posts in terms of valuation.



Got it. and it was in 2019, you are mentioning about?


Jay 22:25

Series B was in 2018, not 19. 2019 was a Series B1, we also did a B one. Yeah. It was more like an extension very soon it happened. General Motors after that, you know, for they’ve been following us for almost two years, every six months, General Motors checked in on the progress how we are doing. And they’ve been phenomenal. And every six months, when they see the progress, they will get blown away. They’re like, wow, okay, you guys have made phenomenal progress. So almost to two plus years, they were taking on us. And then they said, You know what, it’s about time now we need to be part of this. So you guys have made tons of progress. So their exact words, one of the top executives, his words, were they what you and your team have made as a progress in 18 months. Literally one and a half years, we’ve been following companies praying that they will make progress companies that we’ve been following for 15 years, and they couldn’t even scrape the surface, the amount of progress you guys have made is phenomenal, that will definitely help transform this industry. So they came around. And then finally they led the Series B one. And then all of our investors followed and supported, so we raised the B 1 for 30 million dollars. And that was a great round as well, all of our round, were pretty much oversubscribed for all good reasons. And again, we were very, very disciplined on you know, dilution, you know, board and all of those. So that is our series B one. And then we continued our path, we found a great partnership with General Motors. And then the biggest thing is now with the capital, we went full force in developing a complete comprehensive platform, we accelerated our development process to make sure that the full end to end platform comes together. So that was I think it was a not an easy decision. Because multiple times, multiple people invested even in our board, some of the board members not very strongly but advice telling that no, why do you want to do build something like accounting, it’s very complex, and a lot of things can go wrong because companies like Oracle and sap have been doing this for decades. And why don’t you partner with some other company and i think it’s I should say fortunately, we looked at that, and none of them there was anywhere alignment. Because, you know, I already knew how these companies, Oracle and SAP, good companies, but not for, you know, smaller companies, they are enterprise after people spend tons of money, time and effort. But we needed a product that could scale for even one dealership or 100 dealership, or thousand dealerships on the cloud to be simple and easy. And there is no product that was out there, I found a big gap in the industry. You know, there are smaller products, like you know, QuickBooks zero, it’s a small business products, then there are large products, which is Oracle, and you know, SAP and you know, even NetSuite, but there was no product that is in between all of these slightly bigger businesses, midsize businesses, there is no good product out there. And there were a lot of vertical products, small, small ones, but there was no good end to end platform. So there was a gap I found and then I felt you know what, we have to go develop this, there is no other way. And people did scare us quite a few people said this could go wrong with time, all your other areas that you’re trying to solve in automotive will get impacted if you try to do all of these together. But I was convinced you know what this is worth the effort. If you’re solving it, let’s solve it comprehensive, we don’t want to be one other point solution and hundred different solutions that is already existing out there which is just creating friction. So we went ahead and developed the complete end to end platform. And thanks to my phenomenal team. I mean, they pulled this off like I I mean, I’ve done this for 25 years, I have not seen any team. And I don’t think any team will be able to do that anytime in the near future. So we brought that whole platform, what we call it us automotive retail cloud, we officially launched this in 2019, late 2019, very successfully. And then we did pilots across the country as well. That way we were very thoughtful process to run pilots in partnership with General Motors. We chose dealers in different parts of the country, you know, west coast in California, in southern Florida, then in New York and Connecticut. So, so that we are preparing for a scale, we didn’t want to do things easy, right? Of course, sometimes it’s easy to do easy. You go chose something, but you can scale later properly. So we wanted to make sure that we do take that heavy lifting and plan it properly and do a pilot that there we can scale across the country. I think all of the hard work paid off, we started getting a lot more traction, tons more interest from OEMs and from dealers. And that’s when, you know, we got interest from a few large VC and private equity firms. And then Advent reached out through one of my connection ex Tesla, John McNeil who also joined my board. And we started talking to them. In fact, they were so interested that, similar to our series A we hit it off the first meeting the managing partner, Eric was blown away. I mean, he was jumping out of his seat as we started showing the product demo, he was like, Oh my god, Wow, you guys did develop this much. And he said, You guys solved this problem. And this because he has studied the industry for almost 10 years. And he knew the problems existed in the industry, it’s very tough. And that is honestly, it’s like a gift for an entrepreneur, when you get an investor who’s aligned. First, they need to put an effort to understand the industry looks like he has already done that for several years. And then second, they need to believe you know, your vision, and you’re solving the right problem. And then final thing is, you and your team are the right team to solve that problem. I think that alignment was there instantly. Advent came in and said you know what, please stop talking to anyone else. We would love to do this for you around because we know this industry, and we know we can partner and we know you guys are going to do great. And that’s how the Advent partnership happened. Everything happens super quick. We were thrilled to get the valuation that we got like crossed a billion dollar because our revenue has been growing significantly. And yeah, here we go on. The dilution also was very, very small. As you could see, imagine we didn’t share exactly what the valuation is, but it’s significantly more than a billion. So we raised 150. So, it’s very fantastic round in all aspects. We had all of our investors participate. We had some great new investors coming in as well as a company called FM capital, which had top hundred dealers in the country, xR, which is the parent company of Fiat, Chrysler, and Ferrari, they participated again. So yeah, of course, we had to, unfortunately, we had to say no to a few people nicely. And, you know, everyone, overall, was extraordinarily supportive. So we are thrilled to get the capital that we received. Now we are set for that big scale that we are working towards


Siddhartha 30:27

That’s wonderful. And Jay, that would have been at least I think, four to five x jump in valuation from the last round.


Jay 30:40

I didn’t share the B one, B one, our valuation was 180. So we kind of doubled from B to B one and B one to this, like you said, Yeah, it’s a 6x jump.


Siddhartha 30:51

Amazing. Jay, if you could also please share, you know, just some rough numbers around ARR. What’s the current ARR? And how is the ARR grown over the years, or the number of users or dealerships have grown per year from 2017 till now?


Jay 31:05

Yeah. So if you see 2017-18 was purely prototype product, that was a conscious decision, we didn’t go full force to market we didn’t have a sales team hired. So we were very clear to it was more testing the market and making sure that we get feedback loop into the company, I would consider our automotive retail cloud launch in 2019, even though officially we launched the pilots a few months early. But once we confirm the pilots are solid, then we officially did a press release in November 2019. That’s the official I would say launch and until then the revenue was small. But in 2020, it immediately jumped to almost it started going towards and then now we are more in double digit ARR we have not shared the arr numbers Siddharta to anyone, so I’m not sharing the exact numbers we will share sometime in the future. Okay. So from a person’s perspective, we are already in a short timeframe from last November to this November, is not even here, it’s tomorrow. We haven’t even completed one year, so less than one year we are already we have customers in 28 states in the United States and growing rapidly. And it’s great phenomenal, we already have integrated with 17 OEM brands, you know, including some of the top ones, you know, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler, there are quite a few all the Fiat Fiat brands. So 17 brands, we have already integrated. The transaction volume already in on our platform, crossed $350 million, and continuing to rapidly grow. These are just aggregate numbers for you to you know, see the scale. Already, you know, 25,000 plus vehicles have been sold using our platform, more than 160,000 vehicles serviced on the platform. almost a million parts sold on the platform. So we are rapidly making traction and progress and growth. From a growth point of view. I see us growing from year over year, in 2021, at least 200% or more. That’s our growth trajectory. And at that scale, I feel it’s a solid growth and we will continue to grow significantly over the next few years.


Siddhartha 33:42

And Jay if you could share, you know what advantage the end customer, the buyer of the car has got through the massive technology and scale that you have built.


Jay 33:51

Yeah, I think the most important one for us, right? That’s, that’s that’s everything, you know, end of the day, if we do that, right, and which we are, then everything else will follow. So as I mentioned to you earlier, how big the automotive retail economy is it’s a trillion dollar economy just in the US and if you take outside the US and global it’s probably somewhere around like four to $5 trillion across the board. So it’s a huge economy, people buying and selling cars and people servicing and maintaining their cars you know from Tekion perspective you know, so before starting the ride, you know today’s processes frictional buying a car has a lot of friction. And many times online buying people say that it’s just for the namesake you know, some companies do an okay job in selling used cars online. But the new car selling is quite complex, right? It’s, it’s fraught with friction due to multiple reasons, even regulations, create frictions But on top of it, the biggest friction point right now is the fragmentation. in this industry, if you think about if you take a dealer when you walk into a dealer in the US, even if you have done all your homework and know exactly which car you’re going to buy, they will make you sit anywhere between four to six to eight hours in the dealership. And it is many times a very painful experience, I have gone through this myself buying a car a few years ago. It is a tough experience is not a pleasurable experience. Unfortunately, as you know, well, car buying is the most of the time is the largest value buying after your house, it’s a big purchase, and people will do it. Exactly, the biggest expenditure after the house. And many times people do it like once in their lifetime. And of course, sometimes they do a few times in their lifetime, but it’s an important purchase. That purchase should be a pleasurable experience, all of the friction can be removed. So if you see in a dealership, even if you’re buying in a dealership or buying online and then going into a dealership, you will see the dealership employee opening 9,10, 11, 12 different windows to close your deal. Because he has to do everything from desking a deal what they call it, it’s not done in the DMS many times, desking a deal to create you know, your payment and calculation and all of those things. Then finance and insurances have different applications many time, credit application is a different application many times there is so many touch points. And what happens is it creates more drag in the experience and it takes away transparency, they have to retain information, they make mistakes, online selling tools. Like the reason I say that is there are decent tools out there. But unfortunately, they don’t solve the problems comprehensively. Basically, the online tools and then the in store tools talk a different language. So in what I’m saying is calculations are different. So when you try to place an order, you will see some numbers in terms of your fee, taxes and calculations. But end of the day, for namesake you press complete, but someone in the dealership has to call you and tell you many times saying sorry, the number you saw dollar number is not accurate because the systems that run in the backend, which is typically called as DMS then doesn’t talk the same language. So it’s a lot more friction point. So anyway, bottom line goal for the automotive retail cloud is to completely eliminate this friction, the core journey of consumer buying, selling and servicing and maintaining a car and the engagement pieces all come together in one platform seamlessly. and solving this problem comprehensively is what we are doing with automotive retail club. So this trillion dollar economy, we are trying to make sure that it is frictionless It is very simple, easy for everyone. And it should be as simple as what you’re going through buying a car, or buying any product, you know, in online in Amazon are some of the easiest way of the consumer experience. So that is the biggest picture what we are solving, we are taking the complexity to our system, you know, end of the day for me when even when you step back and think computers are designed for taking complexity, crunching them and giving simplicity to the end user, right. So that’s exactly what we’re trying to do using the best of technology to bring it together and take all of the complexity out we solve all the complexity in our platform, and provide the consumer journey. Simple, easy to use. And for all of the users who are dealership users could be OEMs making things simple and intuitive and provide the right thing so that we don’t have them remember 200 things to sell a car or to service a car, right? So we are entering this whole process out using machine learning and AI to enable them to do the best everything, sell the right product, sell the right services. All of those are missed out today. And that’s what we are solving. So the biggest thing is creating that platform bringing OEMs dealers and consumers all much closer, create transparency and trust and making that consumer journey seamless.


Siddhartha 39:40

And does it also result in apart from convenience any cost saving for the end customer


Jay 39:45

Oh massive, Everyone in the ecosystem saves massive amount of money. So if you go to our website, there are some early case studies numbers we have shared how much in addition to running a state of the art labs Form frictionless process. It is a massive savings. So here’s what I will give you some examples, today, in dealerships in the US, they run 40, 50 different applications, they pay crazy amount of money, some dealerships pay almost hundred thousand dollars a month in software costs per dealership. So think about all the costs overhead, they’re passing on many times these will be passed down to the customer, right, because they need to run a business they need to do margins. So it is we are completely removing these friction and cost savings also significantly, in addition to not only cost savings, so three, three big value propositions, right, so one of the best consumer experience and personalized using mln AI providing personalized consumer experience throughout consumer journey doesn’t matter whether they do it from their phone from their laptop, or desktop, when they drive to the dealership, and they sit in the dealership. all connected personalized experience. Number one, number two, on top of this state of the art platform, a significant amount of cost savings. Massive there are dealerships that save anywhere between 15,000 to you know, $65,000 a month by moving to our platform. Yeah, that is kind of number two. Number three is also important. We are increasing sales, using our ML AI, we are providing both to consumers, as well as to the dealers and OEMs. The right recommendation. So today, it is a manual process. And it’s people-based, you know, the salesperson tries to upsell and cross sell. And there are great salespeople who are able to do it. But you know, it’s it doesn’t build trust many times when someone sells it to someone else. Sometimes they also sell things that the customer doesn’t want, they force it and sell it, then what happens to the customer satisfaction, the customer feels really horrible that you know, yeah, exactly. They feel like, you know, they took advantage of me, um, you know, I paid for something that I didn’t want. But if you think about the same thing, when someone goes online and purchases something we, you know, spontaneously keep buying in Amazon or whatever tool because we keep clicking and buying because the reason they’re the friction is not there.


Siddhartha 42:25

There is transparency.


Jay 42:27

Exactly the transparency. And final thing is you make the decision to enter the loan is forcing you. So you don’t feel guilty. Even if you feel guilty, you just shove it underneath and say, Oh, no, no, the day, it’s fine. I did, I’m okay, because you made the decision. So that’s what we’re trying to do with our ML Engine. Throughout the consumer journey, we are creating transparency, we give them the price, we tell them, you know, this is why you may like this product, because you have this vehicle make model trim 80% of the customers who are using this. And by the way, the benefit of this is you know, say for example, using an air filter will improve your vehicle environment and pollen counts are higher, right, whatever, you know, the real giving them the real data and transparency to say why potentially they may be interested or buying this. And same thing for the dealer as well. So, when a consumer comes in, we showed to the dealer employees telling them you know what these are the products that the customers might be interested in rather than you shoving something to them, because you might get a commission, you better propose these products, they will like it and you will still get a commission. So it’s kind of a win win situation. We felt that’s an opportunity. So these are the three value propositions that we bring via our platform, which creates a win win win opportunity for this ecosystem.


Siddhartha 43:45

So if I’m not wrong, like in the future, two, three years or five years, your AI and ml, which you have built in Tekion will take away the jobs of a salesperson from a dealership.


Jay 43:55

You know, I don’t see that. It can reduce, you know the number of people needed, because end of the day, it will create more jobs in different areas. Because today we are just adding friction. If you think about Amazon, people can say no, it has taken away jobs, but it’s also created tons of jobs because it has its own warehouse and supply chain like you know, hundreds and thousands of people who work there, and then delivery, all of those. So I don’t see that because people still we have created one more thing in our platform, which is unique. I don’t think it exists in the industry, where we have created an hybrid experience. If you’re going through an online purchasing, you could start clicking through buying a car online. But any moment in that flow, you could suddenly decide, you know, I don’t want to or you can decide or you can look at and say you know i don’t see a few variations or options for my car online. So now you’re kind of stuck. If you don’t want to go to a dealership, you want to do it online, but the same time you want some help. So one click, we have created a virtual handshake. So literally one click, they can initiate a virtual session to the dealership, a dealership staff can answer that session and create a virtual handshake, they can do a screen sharing session on the browser, they don’t have to download another app, they don’t have to do anything. They can do a screen sharing, and the dealership staff can walk them through and say, oh, by the way, you know what, we have this option, okay, you have this alternative. And we have this discount. And they can literally annotate on the screen and share both sides, they can share videos and pictures. So we do a virtual handshake. And this becomes a hybrid option, where I think there is a need for this right now, not everyone will be able to see everything online. So this creates a good experience for the current consumer, a good kind of, you know, sales cycle for the dealership, and then they complete the deal and the car can be delivered or the consumer can come and pick it up at the dealership. So yeah, we have created multiple options where I think they can maintain that relationship for very long term.


Siddhartha 46:15

Got it. Wonderful, what you have created is truly industry transformation. And it’s one of those products we see in a decade, that truly transformed 100 year old industry, like how often do we get to see this kind of a transformation, Jay.


Jay 46:29

Thank you, Siddhartha. Yes, yeah, we are thrilled about this, again, we have a lot more work to do, in terms of, you know, scaling and taking this to the next steps and also taking this global


Siddhartha 46:41

So, Jay, I also want to touch upon, you know, what made Jay Vijayan who’s the CEO and founder of Tekion. So, first, I wanted to ask, do you categorize yourself among the geniuses of Elon Musk? Like, would you call yourself a genius?


Jay 46:57

Absolutely not, honestly, I feel the way I’ll strongly feel everyone has genius in them. All, I would say almost everyone. Okay, now, it’s about how do you tap that out? I mean, people like Elon Musk have done that in an extraordinary way. And I don’t compare to Elon, you know, Steve Jobs or anyone like that, right? It is me and I came from a very, very normal background, it’s kind of life’s learnings over a period of time over decades. I think it’s about combination of two things, you have to tap in your inner genius. And every every one can do that. It’s purely about putting your mind in the right effort, keeping the right mindset of learning throughout the process. Throughout your journey. A couple of things which I felt which helped me do what I am doing is, every step you learn to take life lessons every step in your personal life in your career, I learned every step, every job of mine from very early days, I applied the prior learnings and make it better apply the prior one make it better. So from Oracle time, I think VMware helped phenomenally because it was a very fast paced growth company grew from 200 Million to 5 billion in revenue. 50 billion in market cap growth brought very high paced and a lot of you say to some extent, even chaos and an organized chaos we went through that built it up that helped me do what I was able to do at Tesla. And then of course, all I learned from Tesla, including working with Elon, some phenomenal lessons. And the visibility I had in the company, how many barriers Tesla broke, to achieve what they are achieving today. Those all I’m applying in Tekion. Not just that, but in my other world as well in my investment world, the learnings I went through with other startups. That’s why we were able to set things in the right way. I think the important thing is you know, you have to be as an entrepreneur, I think that learning process important, both successes and failures. One of the things I keep telling to people, my team as well as even my kids, I tell us, you know you your lifetime will not be enough to learn only from your mistakes. You have to learn from other people’s mistakes. Yeah, it could be observing, it could be reading books, it could be, you know, multiple things that you could do. So that’s, I think it’s a learning process for me, and I would say I’m nowhere to genius, I still have work a lot more learning to do. Again, life is I think I would say never ending learning and you have to keep that mind open. It’s like you know, only if you have some level of emptiness. You can keep Filing if you feel you’re already full, then you can put anything in. Right? So, that’s kind of how I feel who I am.


Siddhartha 50:08

And Jay, would love to know about your schedule from the time you wake up to the time you sleep, what are the activities that go in?


Jay 50:16

Yeah, I’ll share I know, it’s again, that is another part of learning. Early days, I was all about I used to, I like working out a lot. I’ve done all kinds of things from very young age, some days, I’ll wake up at like 4am to go for a run and all of those. So it was all over the place. last few years, I’ve settled down, I read a lot, all kinds of books and self improvement books, and you know, all of those, I think it’s important for any leader and especially an entrepreneur, it’s very, very important to be self centered, and read a lot about all of these. And when you read a lot, you will always find this common theme there is no one book that is a holy grail or one you know, video, that’s the Holy Grail. So you have to get themes and you will find a common theme and common thread in many of these things. So my routines have changed. So now morning routine for me becomes I get up you know, whatever time I go to bed, I try to get up early like around anywhere between 5.30 to six, if I go really late then I change my alarm to you know six or 6.15 or something like that. But if I go a bit early my bedtime varies every day and it’s unfortunate but I try to get anywhere between trying to get to bed anywhere between 10 to 12 it used to be one 2am 3am all kinds of crazy but now I’m trying to get to bed between 10 to 12 in the night, get up 5.30 to six in the morning. And then the moment I get up I have a few morning routines I know you quickly you know brush and then I have breathing exercises I do which is like for 30 minutes. I’ve learned a few breathing exercises and recently started you know reading different books about there is a book recently I read phenomenal book called Breath, lost signs of human art or something like that, I think the extension of the title, phenomenal book and then I started following that Wim Hof breathing method as well. So I started doing the bedient sizes which is great. Really, really gives good fresh start and then I do some workout I have some tea and morning I start with some you know, fruits is something that is really light and then I do some light workout for another 30 minutes. And then yeah your days you know much more brisk and I just get into calls, emails work. And you know with COVID things have changed, you have to get all stuck to a room and zoom all the time. And then I think the balance is important for all of us. I think one suggestion for me that works is try to take that outlet a little bit it could be you know during the day as well like you know it could be 15 minutes walk outside, it could be music, it could be TV, so you always need that small small outlet and break that that helps. And then otherwise it’s all business throughout the day. nights is when I changed also a small routine that helped me significantly otherwise I was carrying too much stress in the night like where I was always thinking about you know how many problems you always have problems to solve irrespective of who does big or small. One of the thing that helped me in the night is you know, I tried you know meditation other things but now I do meditation in the morning with the breathing exercises but in the night I started reading books so my reading time is always in the night I don’t do in between before going to bed I go to bed with the Kindle in my hand to most part and that has helped significantly take your mind off and usually read books that are interesting to you. It doesn’t have to be always work-related and subject-related. You can read that but I think I usually try to take something that is outside of my work-related that is something interesting it could be anything food and it could be yoga, it could be reading it could be you know, surfing, it could be anything but just something that is outside of work. I think that’s my routine. It helped me significantly. One of the things I’ve learned. It’s always continuing, even though nodes It is surprising is human capability what we have, early days the belief systems also change right you’ve always read everybody needs eight hour sleep 10 hours sleep, six hours sleep doesn’t matter. I think each person is different. I think each persons capabilities also much higher than what we think. So when you go through learn, and you can always stretch everything a little bit you try what’s your take on that and you will be surprised most of the time both Mind Body both.


Siddhartha 55:13

And Jay, one thing which I wanted to ask, like you could have always settled for good, like, you know, you come from Chennai, and you really pushed yourself. And I think you went to Oman, for a while correct for a job in software.


Jay 55:34



Siddhartha 55:34

And you did NIT courses to learn software engineering, then you pushed yourself to learn Oracle database, which was certification, which was, I think, not really common at that point in time. And then you landed a job at Oracle, which could have been comfortable, and you could have easily retired there, but you still put yourself, went into VMware in a chaotic environment, reached a very senior director level position there and you are like with stocks and everything you could have been comfortable, but you still took a pay cut. And after one year of you know, now pondering over you joined Tesla at a pay cut. But you had some good amount of talks. And when you were coming out of Tesla, like today, you could have easily retired for your lifetime with the Tesla stock you had? But you still pushed yourself, you know where this thrive to push come from? Like it’s not easy to bring you from Chennai to Oman to Singapore.


Jay 56:40

Yeah, thanks Siddhartha. Good question. So the way I saw you know, honestly, every part of I’ll be very honest, every part of this what you mentioned, there is always one part of me telling me Okay, you know, what, this is the time to settle down, let’s be in the comfort zone. It was there because even in Oracle, because it was seven and a half years, I felt, you know, I was being in the comfort zone, but at the same time, somehow being in the comfort zone always gives you a little bit of uncomfort as well, because you feel you know, bored, you feel that you know, you’re not doing a lot you’re not learning a lot. One of the things I’ve mentioned in other podcasts, which in the past 10 I believe so as well as you then the way the world works, and the way the human nature works is also when you break out of resistance, you get stronger and you grow bigger, right? You can take the fundamentals of planting a seed into the ground and the seed grows out of the ground. And as you water, some of the times that’s why not all but many of the seeds won’t grow just outside the ground, you have to you know, dig a hole and close it and then you water it and then it kind of breaks out and grows right that’s why there’s a saying that I think this I steal from Jim quicks saying where you know digging an egg when you know the shell is broken from inside life begins and when it’s broken from outside life ends. So if you see those fundamental principles even like you know how kind of the caterpillar goes into a cocoon and then breaks out slowly to become a butterfly, you may know that concept of, if you take out a butterfly before its formation inside or outside of a cocoon if you cut it using a scissor or let it out by itself even in the late stage, sometimes it won’t even survive because it won’t grow the strengthen its wings to fly because the strength grows while it was trying to break that cocoon around it. So the point is, your mental and physical I think growth strength grows when you grow out of your comfort zone to expand yourself then you feel good about it there is always the initial phase of getting out of the comfort zone that is the toughest part you feel like you know do I need to do this thing is going well why should I take this ride and that was in my mind as well but I think I was able to break through that and just think about in the past selling that wow, okay, you know what, I went through tough times, but I came out well, I came on better as a better person, stronger person more learning. All of those. So, there are few people thought I was crazy like that. Why are you even doing this? You know, life is good, even when I left Tesla that a lot of people thought like, are you literally crazy? In fact, I was fine. My wife didn’t sleep for six months when I left Tesla, because how much money I left and people thought how much you know, trust is established with Elon while it was not working out that great for so many people, I had been in such a good position. But then I felt you know, this about time, I, I did a very high intense job, I delivered what Tesla needed to and in fact, I told this to Elon as well. And I told him when I met him, he said they What about you know, potentially he was kind of indicating Can you kind of come back but when I told him, it is a bit boring for me. I said that I did what you wanted me to deliver. It was fun. It was interesting for two, three years, but now becomes a routine. So I feel I’m kind of in a place where you know, I may have to do I want to do something different. So yes, I think that part is important for all of us, my advice is going to be push out of that comfort zone and not like you know, without calculations, but always take a calculated risk, but definitely move out of the comfort zone to do the next right. It’s a reason why we do what we do in terms of reading books to expand our mind, doing workout to expand our muscles. It’s all the same principle you have to keep doing, that’s why movement brings growth and strength. If you don’t do the reverse is not even staying stagnant. The reverse is shrinking literally does shrinking. If you don’t work out. If you be stagnant, muscles , basically, they really shrink. Anyway, it’s a very philosophical, but I think the reason I kind of felt that ways, always pushing that a little bit to go to the next. And some other things that are external factors as well, I have a great support system family, but end of the day, it’s your call, you have to make that call to make that happen.


Siddhartha 1:02:12

And Jay, you mentioned in one of your very recent articles, which came in Forbes, that when you were in VMware and you were first approached by a senior recruiter at Tesla, you almost made up your mind. And then it took one year like Elon talked to you. And then it took one year for Elon to convince you to join, right?


Jay 1:02:39

Yeah, it was slightly different. So, the first time I spoke and everything. And I politely declined the offer, because it was not attractive enough. And of course, it was the same problem that I had to leave too much money on the table at VMware, and Tesla couldn’t come up with an attractive enough salary, stock. And then Luckily, I should say, I’m more lucky that they hired someone and it didn’t work out. And Elon kept me in mind. And they called me after a year again. And this time, he felt you know, he needs to hire me. And I also felt compelled that you know, what I missed the last time and this time I need to probably this is an opportunity for me not to miss it anymore. So that’s kind of how I decided still I had to take a pay cut in salary and bonus, because VMware had been a really solid salary and great bonus. And that really stopped most hundred thousand dollars, just purely from salary cut perspective. And then, on top of it, I had to leave stocks because my monthly stock vesting was much more than my monthly salary. And I had to do stuff because I mean, I didn’t come up in a wealthy family. So I was paying bank loans for several years after coming to the US. So it was hard earned. So I couldn’t leave that easily. But at the same time, you know, when you put the cost I felt you know what, now it’s about time for me to take that jump, take that leap of faith take that risk. And you know, it’s fine money will follow and that’s my principle has been, you know, it’s not that money is not important button, but that never should be the primary goal that should be following. So if you kind of approach it with the better reasons money will follow.


Siddhartha 1:04:34

So if you think in hindsight, what was the reason that made Elon come back to you after one year? The quality which, you know, you may have seen in yourself, but you may not have seen in yourself that Elon identified that jay si the right guy for this responsilibity.


Yeah, Great question, honestly, I think yeah, definitely thanks to him, because I didn’t see as much value, I mean I do I’m definitely a self confident person. But I also am not very overconfident about things. So, at the same time, like I said, thanks to him. And it’s always takes someone like Elon to look into people about their strengths, what they can, what can what they can deliver his vision, I think it would be tough for I don’t think anyone else would have made that decision that easily. Because if you think in a typical world, and in a brand that is already public company, they generally go and hire a CIO proven, they always go for something proven, right. And it’s easy that way. I think for me luckily, there are a few things he signed me, I think so on, which is aligned to what he was looking for in Tesla, I had this combination of, you know, Product Development and Engineering Building applications, because he wanted someone to build things in house. Second, I had a second combination of running large enterprise IT in a fast growing company, VMware grew really fast. And he saw that, you know, I had the growth and the fast pace, I was able to build applications and grow VMs and organizations. And then the final one is, of course, the chemistry, when I say chemistry purely, he’s a very objective person. He asked me during the interview, also, you know, I had a patent that I had filed, I think, a couple of patents at Oracle. And he was definitely drilling down deeper on those things. He is a person who will find out whether this person has done what they are saying they have done. So he asked me questions about what did you solve that in particular, what was the solution? And why I explained to him why I solved that problem. And why how this was for Oracle’s customers, and I found a way to do it in collaboration with the team there, and then this is the reason why we file it. So I think that combination of all of those, and there was some generic discussions as well about market and industry how I saw about the future. And I think it’s a combination. He’s a super-smart guy. And he also makes decisions very quickly. It’s not that he is right all the times, but he’s right, majority of the time, and that it’s been working out great. So yeah, I think from a quality perspective, I think these are the things that I feel he saw in me, which is again, Big thanks to him. And it was a phenomenal journey and opportunity for me to really, and he brought out the even the best in me at the time. And that helped me to grow further.


And Jay, Elon is set to drive his team what I have ever read, you know, in his biography, as well, as you know, various articles and through podcasts, drive people to insanity, like not insanity in a bad term, but in a good way. Right? More than hundred hours of work per week. Right.


Yeah, you know, for me, the way I see it is he’s mission driven like you talked about geniuses. And he’s a guy who tapped into his inner genius so much. And he’s extraordinarily driven to accomplish his mission, whatever it takes, the way I see it is if someone has that grand of a vision, that big of a vision, solving some massive problems, it’s tough for them to keep or give mind space for smaller things. So I’m not saying people’s issues and concerns are smaller things. But unfortunately, the reality is, whether we like it or not, he doesn’t have time. And it has to be the next level of leaders who have to do that. And I know it is very tough because he moves such a pace and how many problems he needs to solve. And you need people like that to solve like bigger problems. So the way I would do is, you know, it’s a great mission if you don’t believe in his mission, and of course, he does come up with Mission Impossible targets to people. And many times he brings out the best in them and that happened for me and I’d never thought we would pull something off like what I was able to do. Of course there are a few people before we were not able to do it both ways. It could go both ways. So for me it worked out great and I thought I I get many things which I never thought I would be able to do and that is increased my confidence and it brought out the best in everything in me from a technology leadership and all of those. So if people believe you know, they can’t sustain that they have to move out, there is no reason to stay there and complain. If you can, you can, then just you’re not. Because if you the key is anywhere you go, people have to be having a reasonable understanding of the mission and think about, is this something I want to be part of? And if you are, that’s why I said even earlier, you’re not only in entrepreneurial journey on a day in and day out, I know Yes, people for everyone, you know, you need money to run family and other things, it’s important. But at the same time, if you’re only in certain things for only for money, then you’re obviously thing to move out as fast as you can and go do something that you can at least be little bit attached to. And then you can even if you become passionate about it, awesome. But if you can be a little bit attached to it, then money is also part of it, then it’s fine. But if money is the only reason, then yeah, you’re generally people’s life will be miserable.


Siddhartha 1:11:10

And Jay, so I’ve heard you know that most of the senior execs like you used to sleep even in Tesla’s offices because the deadlines were so. The same happened with you for three, four years?


Jay 1:11:26

Yeah, I’ve done that. So the first, as I said, we had our biggest goal, the first mission impossible for me was building an ERP in three months. And I took you know, I’ve known in my past life and our team, other ERP implementation to even at VMware took a year to two years. It’s a massive project with hundreds of millions of dollars, so I had to build in three months. So there is no other way. And literally, for me, it wasn’t the critical path. Basically, the goal was to build an ERP version, the first version and build a car on it. So I had to do that there is no other way. So I had to live. And again, thanks to my phenomenal team, yeah, there are times I’ve stayed in the office, there are times where I’ll stay in the office till like 2 am, then go home, just take two or three hours of quick nap. And then I will have a stand-up meeting 7:30 am in the morning in the office, because every minute became important. Literally, we were on the critical path where, because it was a public company, we were under the lens. And if you couldn’t produce the car, that will be on me. And of course, there are other things Robotics and you know, all of the things need to be set up manufacturing supplies, and all of those, but software was kind of enabling all of those. So we had to prepare, get it ready, there is no other way. It’s kind of a do or die situation for the company. So yes, it was part of the journey. As I said, if you’re not convinced on the mission, you’re trying to solve something important and big, then it becomes tough. And we for us, I you know, made sure that I understand what are we trying to solve. And if this is worth enough, then we all put all of our effort and our team and everything. And it was a very clear path where the first starting was like, You know what, this is crazy, this is never going to happen. We’re all going to get fired, too slowly thinking mindset about you know what, okay? If that is what’s going to happen, if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down in flames, we are going to do everything to give it a shot. And if we can do it, then at least we are we are satisfied that we give gave everything. So that was the approach, we went ahead. Luckily, we pulled it off. And we were able to produce the car, the software was buggy and all kinds of problems are there but end of the day and accomplished the purpose and then we continue to grow and made it much more solid and now scaling and growing globally.


Siddhartha 1:14:05

And you just want to touch upon the last part of your journey at Tesla. What are the key things that you learned from osmosis or directly from Elon while working closely with him?


Jay 1:14:15

Yeah. One of the things is, you know, that core purpose, he was very, very strong. So, he was thinking many times of fundamentals and abstract. Sometimes it is very tough for people around because people around in the sense I mean, the leaders, operational leaders, including myself, you know, you need to go execute that he can be thinking abstract and say you know what, you need to go solve it this way. And this is the outcome, right? So, for example, he would say something like, you know what? Customers should be able to buy a car with zero signatures. Okay. It’s a great outcome, but end of the day, it’s not about we are not asking signatures there is government regulation and requirement for signatures, there is no California law there is federal government, his goal, his thinking is right, because his thinking process was for consumers making it easy. So, I think this he was so objectively driven to his mission of solving a problem in the right way. And that is something I learned. And go at it with conviction, and grit, you absolutely will be able to, not all the time, you may be able to do hundred percent, but even if you do 80%, it still brings massive value to everyone, I think that is one. Second is, also come up with, you know, smart solutions, even pointers to your team to make sure that when you solve complex problems, there will be there will be barriers, he was not fazed about anything. So I think that’s something I learned to come up with smart solutions for many things, right? Everything from technology problems to capital, cash problems, to all kinds of things. So I think that is a another thing I learned. And just going at with you know, the drive, the highest level of drive to make things happen. So yeah, here are quite a few learnings. I think one of the important things, I learned this, you know, consumer experience, making sure that is the first point I said, make sure that that is you have your objectives, clear, your goals clear and just go after it, whatever it takes, I think I’d say probably those are the core learnings.


Siddhartha 1:17:46

The one thing which I personally wanted to ask, you know, because I have been an entrepreneur, and Elon pulled it off, how do you, you know, do it when for a long time, nobody believes in you. And right, in his parallel company, SpaceX, three to four initial launches, crashed. Right, and the same similar effect, you know, because it’s the same entrepreneur running two different set of companies. So he would bring because entrepreneurs is also emotional person, right, he would bring the same kind of that he has failed there, and people looking up to him with that kind of lens


Jay 1:17:46

Exactly, that’s a great point, Siddhartha, since being an entrepreneur, I think you understand, it’s not easy, you know, you’re under a nominal amount of stress. And that’s why you know, people make mistakes. Everyone is human, even, he makes mistakes. And since he’s so under the lens, sometimes he could make mistakes, you know, while tweeting. And so I think the point is, it’s about learning. And I think evolution for him, this is what I said, there, it’s his unique, there are leaders like that write in on the past and historical from people who have brought about some major transformation and major changes, you know, century level, not even decades level, right to some major industry transformations. Yeah, from that perspective, he’s unique, he has brought in some huge, huge changes. That’s why not everyone can, but he has also created inspiration for so many people, right. And so many people thought, because world has become smaller with the internet with being connected social, and all of those. Now you learn about these great people almost instantly. So there, he created inspiration to so many people, young, aspiring entrepreneurs that you know, what people thought were impossible. And people only dream about many times, sometimes even dreams, they think it’s too big. And he thought he showed to people that these things are possible. If you go at it, you can make these things happen. So now it’s creating a lot more inspired, you know, engineers, entrepreneurs, so many other people. I think that’s the most important thing. I don’t know whether everyone can I’m sure there is going to be maybe a few more people in the following maybe decades to come, who will grow into similar but he’s very, very unique in that perspective. And that’s why he’s accomplishing things that many couldn’t do for decades.


Siddhartha 1:17:43

And i think you know what you’re doing is also very, very aspirational. You could have picked the easy problem to solve. But you picked an industry, which is hundreds of years old, and OEMs are like, you know, if you talk about them for years and years, hundreds of years, they control the industry. The industry doesn’t control them, they control the industry. So, bringing change in how they work, for the benefit of the end consumer is aspirational, you know.


Jay 1:20:44

Thank you, Siddhartha. really, really, really appreciate that. Yes, Yes. We are super committed extraordinarily excited. We are working hard. Definitely, we will grow, we will scale, a lot more value to bring to this industry. And as I said, Yes, it was a tough journey to start with. But I think we’re in a great place. And now the industry has embraced us so well. We’ve gotten gotten support again, thanks to all of the partners, right even the our investors, from General Motors to Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi to BMW to FCA. I think it’s been great and dealers, multiple dealers in the country. Joe Sarah from Capitol, I think people who have trusted, Advent, I think we we collaborate and so far we brought in a lot of value to everyone, including our customers to start with our employees and our shareholders. And yeah, I think we’ll work hard to continue that growth and keep it sustaining and very long term decades to come.


Siddhartha 1:21:51

And I think one of the most brilliant move, you know, which I consider you have done, the Tekion team, I should have said, has done is bringing these stakeholders together on the same cap table, like where they wouldn’t have sat across a single boardroom because they are fiercely competitive. You have made vested in your success, first of all, and i think in another universe, they would have see each other across the same cap table or board room.


Jay 1:22:24

Yeah, thank you, Siddhartha, that’s validation of what we are solving again, thanks to them to be pragmatic about these things. Because when there is a common industry problem you’re solving this is the proof more than anything for me honestly, dollars money, yes, it’s all good. Others could have given the same, but then giving the money and being part of it is a extraordinary validation for someone like me and my team, to just say, you know, you’re solving the right industry problem, not just in the problem for me problem for someone else, but it’s an industry problem, which is great for me, I’m definitely grateful for that.


Siddhartha 1:23:18

Jay, one last part of your journey, which I touched upon the podcast before concluding it is your journey as an angel investor, which companies you have been part of if you can share some of them?


Jay 1:23:18

Yes, I’ve invested in quite a few companies from very early days. I was a seed investor. I don’t know if I remember all the names as I am investors in like 25-26 companies. Some are doing well some are doing okay, some doesn’t exist. So a company called Asher they just raised their Series B i think they are in the RPI robotics and automation and let me see and that’s where there was a company called is Kellycom and I have been invested in secondary shares through funds in lift palantir which just went public recently and then in India invested in Arthur energy the electric bike and electric scooter in Bangalore. And then I did a small investment even in Factordaily, just the media in early days. Let me see what else yeah, I think these are some of the companies that come to my mind. I have a list of portfolio I don’t actively spend time with but again, when they reach out for help, if I can give some pointers then I do.


Siddhartha 1:24:54

Thank you so much, Jay, for sharing your journey, experience wisdom, you know everything so candidly. I have learned a lot I hope entrepreneurs and those who aspire to be entrepreneurs learn a lot from this podcast where you have shared so candidly,


Jay 1:25:11

You’re most welcome, Siddhartha. Great conversation and thanks for giving me an opportunity to share my experience and definitely All the best to you and all of your listeners and entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and everyone. Have a wonderful upcoming months and hopefully, our 2021 will be phenomenal.


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