With a market share of around 70% of a 650 million-strong population, you would think that dedicated eCommerce companies would be a dime-a-dozen in Southeast Asia. Well, guess again, as we hadn’t even heard of one before an email about iMotorbike was sent to our inbox.

Started in Malaysia by former Lazada and Shopback executive Gil Carmo, iMotorbike is a direct result of him seeing a huge gap in the market. Gil has been an entrepreneur most of his life starting from his time selling mobile phones online via mIRC chatrooms as a 12 year-old.

Founded in 2016, iMotorbike is a unique solution to a problem we did not know existed. We have dedicated platforms for clothes, cars, books and almost everything you can think of, but motorbikes are often relegated to a single tab on car websites and hidden in the depths of the classifieds.

people riding motorcycles during daytime
Motorbikes in Southeast Asia

We spoke to Gil to find out more about his venture and the impact it is having in the region. Find out what he had to share with us.

Why motorbikes? What was the impetus in choosing this particular segment of the automotive industry to focus on?

Motorcycles have long been the most popular and most used vehicle across Southeast Asia. Roughly 70% of the Southeast Asian population owns a motorbike. It is the vehicle used on a daily basis by hundreds of millions of people to go to work, to drop their kids off at school, to do their weekly grocery shopping, etc. In spite of this, this specific vertical of the automotive industry was under-served by the digital world. Before iMotorbike, there was basically no company providing a dedicated and focused support to all the transactions happening between the buyers and sellers, professional motorcycle dealers, manufacturers, service providers, etc. 

We are strong believers that whatever one does in life must be relevant and have a true impact on enhancing human life. iMotorbike’s mission is to power the largest ecosystem for the motorcycle vertical, enabling better, faster and more efficient business relationships across the industry.

What challenges did you face when trying to create or at least, collate such a fragmented market?

Building a new concept from scratch always requires a lot of patience, trial-and-error, and a flexible mindset that can adapt to changes even while working towards a set end-goal. To translate ideas to a truly practical, user-friendly and all-rounded platform that all players in the industry can use seamlessly even without being digitally-savvy, you have to be on the ground, listening. This is exactly what we did when building iMotorbike. 

It is extremely hard to navigate spaces that have never been touched or approached by the digital world; to explain to them the advantages for their businesses of becoming more acquainted with and gaining expertise in using digital tools. Yet, this is also where we find an untapped ocean of opportunity. 

Do you face challenges from more generalist eCommerce platforms like the classifieds site Mudah? 

Everyone has their place in the market and the market is massive enough to carry more players and serve different audiences. A great majority of people prefer to be served by specialists in a specific product. When you offer specialized support, you offer deeper knowledge and understanding about the product or message you are trying to exchange.

iMotorbike platform

People by nature build a higher level of trust and engagement with whatever product they acquire or intend to acquire if they are interacting with a specialized person or platform, which is exactly what all vertical-driven businesses provide. This is what we do at iMotorbike, serving the motorcycles vertical as a specialised eCommerce platform, like no other business does. 

Is the increasing gig-economy related jobs such as delivery and ride-sharing boosting the growth of your service or is it not having an impact?

Any company that drives higher engagement with the digital world on a large scale will help our business. Our potential market is the 70% of the population of Southeast Asia that owns a motorbike. Anyone that raises the digital literacy of the population is giving us a head-start for when they want to sell their motorcycles and purchase new ones at iMotorbike.

One interesting aspect of the platform is the consumer reselling aspect of the platform. Is this a major part of your business and how do you plan to scale it?

While the C2C aspect is crucial to the business due to its community impact, we do not see this specific channel as any more or less important than any other channel we hold, care for and have built at iMotorbike. When you are building a community platform with several touch points, all of them are relevant for the platform’s growth.

Looking at the total motorcycle ownership numbers across Southeast Asia, we can estimate conservatively that 10% of motorcycles change hands year-on-year. Reaching the great majority of these transaction holders and bringing them to our platform for safer and faster sales is our target for this aspect of our business. 

We saw that you also have iMotorbike in Indonesia. How is that going and what are your plans to expand there?

Indonesia is the largest market for motorcycles in terms of numbers, with the country accounting for almost half the motorcycle sales in ASEAN.  iMotorbike has been growing steadily there, though we understand that this is only the beginning. We have a clear and ambitious vision for market expansion, and we work everyday on compounding our efforts to reach our goals faster. Indonesia is, without a doubt, one of the most important markets for us. 

What are your expansion plans for the brand both in terms of services and geographically?

iMotorbike is currently addressing the Malaysian and Indonesian markets, serving private users (individual buyers and sellers of motorcycles); professional motorcycle dealers; brands, and manufacturers related to the industry; and service providers such as insurance and financing companies. We understand that we are literally at the very beginning of a much larger approach in terms of the services and markets we can support; nonetheless, we believe iMotorbike already addresses the core players and problems in the industry.