Former Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan’s startup Tekion enters unicorn club

Jay Vijayan, Founder and CEO of Tekion. Photo: Mint

Chennai-born entrepreneur Jay Vijayan has come a long way from working as chief information officer (CIO) at American electric car company Tesla, Inc to chief executive of his own tech start-up Tekion.

Tekion, a cloud technology company focused on the automotive industry, has raised $150 million as part of its Series C financing led by private equity firm Advent International round at over $1 billion valuation, becoming a unicorn in less than four years.

Vijayan, who directly reported to Tesla chairman and CEO Elon Musk was responsible for building all digital and information technology systems ground-up during his four-year stint there.

Before Tesla, Vijayan built technology platforms and solutions to help businesses scale while working in tech companies like Oracle and VMware in US.

During his Tesla stint, California-based Vijayan observed that the automotive ecosystem was fragmented and decided to build a company that would connect all the stakeholders of the auto retail industry.

He went on to launch Tekion in 2016, with an all Indian core member team, to offer end-to-end dealer management system with its Automotive Retail Cloud (ARC) platform that provides seamless connectivity between vehicle manufacturers, dealers and car buyers.

“Today’s consumers receive outstanding personalized retail experiences from companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Disney. Why shouldn’t they expect the same in their vehicle acquisition and service needs? We believe Tekion will be the trailblazer for enabling the modernization of the entire consumer journey and providing the best experiences and operational efficiencies, period. It’s time to even the playing field for the automotive retail industry,” said Jay Vijayan, CEO of Tekion.

Tekion still doesn’t offer its services in India but has strong roots in the country.

Its APAC headquarters is in Bengaluru and it has a development center in Chennai, with much of its research and development work happens in the India offices.

Vijayan’s core member team has been together since the last 20 years, from Oracle to Tekion. It has over 450 engineers and innovators globally though Vijayan said it is the Indian engineers who are responsible for developing all the products, including a zero-contact digital sales and services module, which was launched during the pandemic as buyers were not keen on visiting dealerships because of covid-19.

“At present, the focus is on the North American market with global expansion plans to roll out in 2021 to explore Europe and Asia,” adds Vijayan.

Prior to Advent’s investment, Tekion had raised $65 million in equity financing from investors.

Tekion’s $150 million funding round, apart from Advent, saw participation from Index Ventures, Exor (holding company of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari), Airbus Ventures and FM Capital. Tekion’s other key investors from the Automotive industry include General Motors, BMW iVentures and Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance Ventures.

Advent’s funding will provide Tekion fresh capital to support additional investment in its platform and scale the company.

“The automotive retail and dealer technology ecosystem are ripe for disruption. It has operated for too long with outdated technology and patchwork systems that fail to meet the needs of modern dealers and their customers,” said Eric Wei, a Managing Director on Advent’s technology investment team in Palo Alto.

Tekion started on-boarding dealers on its Automotive Retail Cloud platform in Q3 2019 and has grown rapidly by partnering with manufacturers and dealers of all sizes. Tekion’s platform already integrates with 17 OEM brands and the company is targeting to complete the remaining OEM integrations in early 2021.

“Tekion is the true disrupter the industry has been waiting on for decades,” said Joe Serra, President, Serra Automotive Inc., also an investor in the funding round.

Tekion’s technology and vision will transform automotive retail for consumers, dealers and manufacturers, Serra added.

This article was first published on livemint.com

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.