STARTUPPERMAG spoke with Spotawheel’s CEO and Co-Founder, Charis Arvanitis, who referred to the course of the Startup and those points that make it stand out in a traditional market, where the concept of digital transformation is adopted at an extremely slow pace. Of course he refers to his people but also to his goals for the next years, as well as to the difficulties he found along the way, reminding all of us that the road of “business” is not an easy one.
S.M.: Undoubtedly Spotawheel has managed to make an impressive Disrupt in a traditional market, becoming a reference point today. In this impressive journey, what were the most important difficulties you have faced?
Charis Arvanitis: Achieving product-market fit was relatively easy. The market presents significant problems that make it difficult to acquire a used car, their solution has been our guiding strategy.
But, you are right, there were significant difficulties that had to do with the company model itself, which is quite complex and ‘heavy’, especially in a Pan-European size.
Issues such as those of Sourcing technology, technical infrastructure, Real Estate and fleet financing had to be solved so that we could create a real e-Commerce product in the field of the sale of used cars.
S.M.: Today Spotawheel has nothing to do with the company we met in 2016. Six years later you are a Startup that has all those characteristics that make a company international. How this development was achieved?
Charis Arvanitis: From the beginning we had a clear vision as to what we want to create and what its value will be. Thanks to the very strong team and the specific corporate culture that we have, we managed and achieved the growth we wanted.
Of course, it took flexibility to adapt our model to the needs of our customers depending on the country in which we operate.
S.M.: Regarding the geographical development of Spotawheel, on what criteria was the choice of countries made and how do you plan to further expand into new markets?
Charis Arvanitis: We want to create real added value for our customers and that’s why we choose large markets that face equally significant problems, as far as the used car industry is concerned.
In central-eastern Europe, for example, there is a great need for increasingly better quality second-hand cars, but the domestic market cannot meet this demand.
S.M.: Have you set the strategic goals for Spotawheel for the next 5-10 years? In your case, does the expression “The sky is the limit” apply?
Charis Arvanitis: We are following an aggressive 5-year expansion plan to new markets across Europe. Our goal for 2022 is that we will launch 2+2 new markets that we are very excited about.
Strategically, the focus for the next few years is on technology and our people. We really do have incredible technological solutions that our excellent team is constantly working on and will be available to our customers in the coming months.
S.M.: Spotawheel has managed to “raise” almost 20 million euros in funding. Have you set specific targets in this field? And how do they relate to the philosophy and development of the company?
Charis Arvanitis: Our plan for the coming years is for Spotawheel to have full profitability, while continuing its aggressive expansion strategy. First of all, the fact that we manage to “raise” as you say large investment funds honors us and then it creates a great responsibility for us to achieve our plans to the full.
S.M.: One of the most important points that have proven that Spotawheel differs from any other company, traditional or Startup, is the ability to buy a car without even being seen by the interested party. But how familiar are your customers with this digital “revolution”?
Charis Arvanitis: It varies depending on the degree of maturity of the market we address, for example in Greece the percentage of online purchases is 30-35%, while in Poland it is already at 60-65%. Our strategic goal is for this percentage to exceed 85% in all our markets, giving our customers all the technological tools they need to proceed to a “digital” transformation.
S.M.: And since we are talking about “revolutions”, in your opinion, which one do you consider to be the largest and especially the one that characterizes Spotawheel?
Charis Arvanitis: The sophisticated operating model that we are developing around technology and transparency are two of the things that were and are until now unheard of in the used car market. This is exactly what our customers appreciate and makes them trust us.
S.M.: The key part of your activity is professionally linked to sectors that are characterized as “traditional”. After all, is Spotawheel a “curse” or a “blessing” for the used car industry?
Charis Arvanitis: I think we are a forerunner of the change that has already arrived. The industry is changing and entering the digital age, which signals drastic changes in the way merchants operate and in customer expectations.
The fact that we are the first to do so in every market where we operate, inevitably brings together all the relative and expected likes or dislikes.
S.M.: Could Spotawheel also enter the field of finance? That is, to give direct loans for the purchase of a car?
Charis Arvanitis: In general, the car as an object touches a very large ecosystem of services, financial and non-financial, which we are interested in developing. We have currently established very important partnerships with industry leaders in all countries in order to maximize value for the benefit of our customers.
S.M.: Spotawheel and you personally are genuine “children” of the Greek Startup scene that has recently attracted the spotlight. What is your assessment and how do you see this dynamic evolving?
Charis Arvanitis: It could not be more optimistic – the Greek scene has already passed to the second stage of its maturity, with the first successes and failures setting a shining example for the future.Little by little we will reach the point where the future workforce of our country – the children who are studying now – will first choose a Startup environment as opposed to a classic organization. Mainly for the experience and atmosphere that such an environment is able to offer. Then we will really experience a rapid evolution throughout the ecosystem.
S.M.: Focusing, on a personal level, what were those points that you would like to share with us that made you “break”?
Charis Arvanitis: A lot of things went wrong in the beginning, but so many more were the solutions that were found.Now we are happy to have the right team and experience to manage everything calmly and properly. If I had to choose a very difficult time it would be February and March 2021, during the pandemic, when the uncertainty about what the world will look like tomorrow had peaked. But we also had the support of our investors there, they helped us a lot to do the right handling in this situation.