At 36 years old, Aaron Tan has been dubbed as a “serial entrepreneur”. Living up to the title, Aaron had created and sold off 2 successful start-ups before turning 21. Thereafter, he started Carro. Carro provides a full-stack service for all aspects of car ownership and uses AI-powered technology to transform the car buying and selling experience.
Carro is one of Singapore’s newly minted unicorn that was mentioned in the speech by Prime Minister Lee during the National Day Rally 2021. The Redbrick Team had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Tan, CEO of Carro, as he shares more about his love for buying and trading cars, as well as his experience as a venture capitalist.
Q. Can you tell us more about yourself, and how you got to where you are today?
Aaron: Hi, I’m Aaron Tan, the founder and CEO of Carro. My passion lies in programming, and I started when I was really young – 13 to be exact. I went on to build development houses, hosting houses and eventually an advertisement network which made me my first pot of gold.
Subsequently, I took up a government scholarship from Infocommunications Development Authority and served my bond at Singtel’s venture fund. It was there that I started Block 71, which is a start-up incubator focused on technological companies. It is a three-way partnership with NUS Enterprise, SingTel Innov8 and the Media Development Authority of Singapore. I was also involved in investing in over 60 companies all over the world.
These entrepreneurial experiences led me to start my own company – Carro in 2016 with my housemates from Carnegie Mellon.
Q. What are some of the milestones you have reached on a personal level?
Aaron: Establishing and growing a corporate billion-dollar company, being able to do so on the back of some of the industry’s highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) scores are some milestones that I have achieved.
Q. What does success mean to you?
Aaron: To me, success means to never say no to failure. It doesn’t cost much to try again after a stumble. After all, failure is never an option.
Q. What do you do in your free time?
Aaron: Given my passion for technology, I do programming during my free time and I like to browse for new properties to add to my collection.
Q. What is one interesting fact about yourself that people don’t usually know?
Aaron: I am a value buyer for properties and have done it many times. I also love building houses – if I had not started Carro, I probably would have become a builder and developer.
Q. What is a regular workday like?
Aaron: Every day is a work day, honestly with non-stop emails, and calls. Frankly, I don’t think of it as work. Instead, I see it as a part of life. Since I enjoy life, my work is something I take pleasure in as well.
Q. How does your organization maintain its appeal to consumers?
Aaron: This is something that we ask ourselves all the time. I believe that the key is ensuring that our customers are happy. Customer satisfaction is paramount to us, and ensuring every client has a good experience is something we continuously improve on by gathering feedback. To do so, we place heavy emphasis on ensuring we have good Net Promoter Scores (NPS), which acts as an indicator of customer satisfaction.
Q. What are some of the important values does Carro prides itself with?
Aaron: Being customer centric is important. More eminently, we pride our willingness to go beyond the call of duty to deliver the best for our customers and stakeholders.
Q. Could you describe your current property of residence?
Aaron: I currently stay in a Detached House, a contemporary design with a concrete Béton brut style finish. I appreciate the expression of unfinished concrete architecture allows the raw concrete and its basic features to shine.
Q. What do you look out for when searching for a property?
Aaron: When choosing properties, I usually prioritize value. It is important that there is capital appreciation of the property, so I do consider its upside potential for capital gains when the time to sell it comes. Another important factor would be the amenities nearby and the accessibility of the location, so being near schools and MRT stations is a plus for me. Lastly, tranquillity and calmness in the estate.
Q. Do you believe in ‘leverage all I can’ or ‘pay down as soon as I can’ school of thought?
Aaron: I am in the “leverage all I can” team for sure. Given how low interest rates are, I am of the opinion that one should always leverage to maximize gains.
Q. What kind of advice would you give to new homeowners and aspiring property investors?
New homeowners should be unafraid to sell and upgrade their properties to realize the value of their property. If opportunity arises, double down to maximize leverage.
Q. Which is your favorite estate in Singapore and why?
Aaron: Adelphi Estate behind Thomson Plaza definitely takes the cake. It is perched at the top of the hill, near top schools, yet a few hundred meters away from the MRT and a shopping mall. It is a mere 12 mins to Newton Circus. Did I mention that I feel that it is quite undervalued?