Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wheels of success

CarZ began when Venu Denepudi and Vijay Gummadi, both cousins and good friends, decided to return to India in 2008 after having lived in the US for more than 12 years.

Behind every established business set up, lies a success story – one that involves incredible hard work, efforts, innovation and most of all trust between the partners. This is probably what worked most for Venu Donepudi and Vijay Gummadi, the founders of CarZ, a company that offers end-to-end reconditioning and servicing of cars. Launched in 2010, the company is already raking in profits.

It all began when Venu and Vijay, both cousins and good friends, decided to return to India in 2008 after having lived in the US for more than 12 years.

“We always used to track the news and observed the economic boom that was taking place in In­­dia. After 2000, we noticed that a lot of people had been opting to buy cars and small car owners be­gan buying bigger ones. Car ma­jors (OEMs) began concentr­a­ting on the Indian market and ev­en started customising cars as per the Indian customers’ needs. Against this background, we wanted to start this business,” says Venu Donepudi, co-founder and managing director, CarZ.

One may wonder why a client will choose their service over the one provided by an authorised service centre. But Venu, who has a rich experience with world leaders like GM and Ford, explains, “The service we provide is a value added one. We set up a service centre that is at a close proximity and charge 20 to 40 per cent less compared to other centres. We’ve also brought in transparency in our services by letting the customer watch and interact with the mechanic while he is working on their car.”

True to his word, the venture is proving to be a profitable one. The initial investment was Rs 2.5 crore (this was majorly self-funded and with some help from family and friends). Once the company proved its mettle, it has raised $5 million from Indo-US Venture Partners. They are now looking for another round of funding of $20 million this year.

However, it’s not all about work always. On the personal front, Venu likes travelling and his favourite holiday destination is Hawaii. He is also passionate about films and is particularly fond of movies by K Raghave­ndra Rao and Dasari Narayana Rao. His passion for films doe­sn’t end at just watching them. “I may script a film eventually, which should live up to my grandfather’s name (Ramabra­hmam Gudavalli). But my current focus is on CarZ and by 2017, I hope to open 300 outlets,” he says.

Despite his busy schedule, Venu, who usually works 18 hours straight, tries to make time for his children as well. “Whenever I can, I try and spend time with my daughters. On any given day by the time I leave for work, they are asleep and by the time I get back, they would’ve fallen asleep. My friends often joke that my daughters may soon end up calling me uncle,” he laughs.

After a long day at work, Venu loves to unwind to the tunes of KV Mahadevan and Ilaiyaraja. This car aficionado also has a love for watches and owns a Maurice Lacroix and Omega. Although he now drives a Mercedes Benz C class, his mo­st prized possession is a Premi­ere 118 NE. “My father gifted me that car when I graduated from college and there is no way I will ever sell it. Whenever I go to my hometown, Vijayawada, I drive that,” says Venu.

Venu is also a voracious re­ader of Telugu literature. “Ev­e­ry time I go to Vijayawada I pi­ck up Telugu books that have be­en published in the 1950s. I love to read books authored by Cha­lam and Adavi Bapiraju,” he says.

But for the most part, this successful entrepreneur is happy doing what he loves most – work. In his own words, he finds happiness in being part of a 300-employee group.

The Company want to expand its services and want to have 300 service outlets Pan India with 10,000 employees that includes 70 per cent franchise outlets

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