Tekion is Jay’s solution to the non-exsistant (until now), seamless connection between the three primary stakeholders in the automotive industry: 1) OEM brands (such as GM, BMW, and Tesla), 2) Retailers and 3) Consumers.
He has seamlessness and streamlined opportunities on the mind, and from our passenger seat – the automotive industry is better for his innovation.
M.R. Rangaswami: You are a tech guy (VMware, Oracle) – how and why did you enter the auto business?
Jay Vijayan: Automotive is something that almost every one of us uses in our daily life as a consumer. I felt it was long overdue to bring the best consumer experiences to Automotive using the best technology. Once I joined Tesla, I had far more exposure to the industry and I saw all the gaps that existed in the retail experience. There didn’t seem to be a focus on the consumer as there was in other industries and the technology capabilities to bring the best experiences were seriously lacking.
I realized there was a tremendous opportunity to bring value to the auto retail ecosystem by connecting the key players (retailers and manufacturers) to the consumer through a technology platform. Now consumers can enjoy similar experiences buying or servicing a car as they do purchasing products from their favorite companies like Apple or Disney. If you provide a phenomenal experience, consumers will keep coming back to you.
M.R.: You sell to auto dealers – how do you think their business will evolve with electric cars and new online options?
Jay: This is an exciting time in the auto industry. I’ve been very impressed with all the new products coming out into the market, especially the line-up of EVs and all the developments in Autonomous vehicles. I believe auto dealers are being presented with a unique opportunity to transform to modern retailing (i.e., providing consumers the choice to do business their way- be it online, in-store or hybrid).
There is a reason why Apple has brick and mortar stores and continues to open new stores. So, the future will evolve into a combination of online (higher percentage than today) and in-store buying. There will still be big percentage of consumers who will still want to personally experience the product before buying, so retail centers will become experience centers. OEMs understand the need for online sales and they are making big strides in enabling retailers with the right tools to make it happen. There is definitely a transformation taking place in the industry and Tekion will be leading the enablement of the whole ecosystem into this transformation.
M.R.: What is the key lesson you learned from your time at Tesla? And…do you still drive a Tesla?
Jay: I learned a lifetime of lessons from my time at Tesla! But one that I brought into Tekion’s ethos is the commitment to deliver a significantly superior product, bringing the best consumer experiences and significant value to our customer ecosystem.
I drive a Tesla Model X and a Chevy C8. I switch between them based on the day. Model X: I was lucky enough to purchase the seventh one that came out of the factory (with a VIN ending 007 ) in fact. It’s an amazing product – best example of a seamless experience in every way. This is also my family car. The Chevy C8 is new, also the seventh car that came out in 2021 (VIN ending 007) It is a gorgeous looking car and the General Motors team has done an amazing job with this sports car on all aspects, providing great value in this category.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com