How a disrupter transformed Thailand’s used car industry almost overnight

Within six months of starting his first job after graduating from Northeastern, Manit Ghogar was tapped to run a multimillion dollar business in Thailand. His company, Carro, is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of used cars in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Photo courtesy Manit Ghogar

Imagine that within six months of starting your first job out of college, you’re the big guy. The head honcho. The one in charge of running the show. And not just any show, but a multimillion-dollar business.   

That’s what happened to Manit Ghogar. In the same year, he went from lugging a backpack around Northeastern’s Boston campus and cramming for final exams to calling the shots as the head of the Thai division of Carro, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of used cars.

Manit Ghogar graduated in 2017 with a degree in finance and economics from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern. Photo courtesy Manit Ghogar

Viewed from any angle, it’s an unexpected story, and Ghogar knows it.

“I went from zero to 100 almost overnight,” says Ghogar, who graduated with a degree in finance and economics in 2017. “The learning curve has been extremely steep.”

Be that as it may, get Ghogar talking about Carro, and he’ll wax eloquent about how the company is unlike any other that exists in Asia right now, and how it has taken on the challenge of addressing the problems within a market that had long been fragmented over a lack of transparency and trust. And how, by doing so, Carro has tried to shake up an industry that Ghogar says has been stagnant for decades. 

He’ll tell you how he takes a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs approach to helping dealers of used cars address the challenges of supply and demand. And how Carro enables private dealers to sell their cars at a profit. And that, once those needs have been met, Carro provides dealers with capital to expand their business. 

“Our company has tried to emerge as that one trusted party that all stakeholders can trust, whether it is the seller, the agent or the dealership,” says Ghogar. “That’s how we’ve branded ourselves, and how we cater to all our stakeholders.” 

The most rewarding aspect of the job for Ghogar is hearing first-hand from clients, especially those operating outside Bangkok, that they’ve seen a growth in their revenue after using Carro’s services. The second best part? The people he works with, many of whom, like him, are also in the early stages of their careers.

“Seeing the people who haven’t come from this industry, but really are thriving, and being able to build something which hasn’t been built before in the country, disrupting an industry which has been plagued with all sorts of issues for the past decade,” he says of his staff of around 120 employees.

One of those people is Chainarin Pongpornprot, a fellow Thai native and recent Northeastern graduate who studied business administration and finance. He and Ghogar met as members of a Thai club on the Boston campus and stayed in touch.

When Pongpornprot joined Carro early this year as part of the business development team, he found that there was no time to waste.

“It’s very fast-paced,” he says. “It’s like all hands on board all the time. Everything needs to be done in a matter of hours, which a big company usually takes weeks to plan and execute. We’re like, today it needs to go out, and everyone is rushing all the time to get things done.”

A third-generation Thai Indian, Ghogar developed an interest early on in finance and technology, and in how their overlapping effect can help improve people’s lives. As a student at NIST International School  in Bangkok, he worked for a micro-development bank that loaned employees money to grow their businesses on the side. 

He continued exploring those interests as a finance and management information systems student at Northeastern, where he completed co-ops in Boston, New York City, and India. 

By that third co-op, Ghogar, who had recently caught the startup bug, was ready to take a break from the corporate landscape and try something new. He signed on to work for a software company in Bangalore, where, he says, he crossed paths with entrepreneurs who claimed they were building sustainable businesses, only their companies didn’t actually solve problems or offer real value. In a way, it was his most transformational co-op experience, Ghogar says, because it helped him decide what he didn’t want to be.

“I quickly realized that I didn’t want to be this type of entrepreneur, someone who started a business just for the sake of it; a makes-it-to-the-top-quick sort of entrepreneur,” he says.

Wanting to make a bigger difference, he set his eyes on consulting or joining a small company after graduation. Then Carro fell into his lap.

“This opportunity really came as a blessing,” he says. “It’s definitely not what I expected coming out of college, but it was in line with the experiences that I was looking for—something that would throw me into the deep end, and allow me to learn to one day go off and become a better leader, become a better businessman.”

At Carro, he has an opportunity to work toward those goals every day.

“I’m able to really get my hands dirty,” he says. No pun intended.

In addition to running Carro, Ghogar is a member of Northeastern’s Young Global Leaders program, which comprises more than 100 recent graduates who advise university leadership and help to strengthen Northeastern’s network of international alumni. 

As a member of the program, Ghogar is one of a number of alumni around the world who is helping to mobilize events to share their stories in order to help inspire and shape the Northeastern entrepreneurship ecosystem. He’s holding a round table on Nov. 13 in Bangkok that will take place in advance of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation taking place Nov. 18-24.

Ghogar is also on the planning committee of the next installment of Northeastern’s annual Global Leadership Summit.The two-day event, which kicks off Feb. 29, will bring together Northeastern leaders, including President Joseph E. Aoun, with the university’s global community, business executives, and others  to discuss the future of higher education and corporate social responsibility in India, among other topics.

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