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Pakwheels: A premium portal and fast emerging online business in Pakistan

Published on 7th Sep, Edition 36, 2015

 

If life was a long drive, it would be best driven by those who value each step taken on the journey. The same goes for those car enthusiasts who always look for a perfect automobile that suits their needs and lifestyle. Your car empowers you to reach a destination in a way, you want to go by, but also leads you to achieve self-actualization and, in simpler words, makes you the master of your journey. Once held as a status symbol, owning a car is now a fundamental necessity for everyone and to make your car decisions and matters easier, that’s where PakWheels.com comes to play. www.Pakwheels.com is all about automobiles. It is the largest automotive online marketplace, a thriving community of automotive enthusiasts and Pakistan’s first and foremost automotive blog (news source). From new to thousands of used cars, that allow you to see your next car on a click of a button, saving you time and effort while also providing you all sorts of information on the car as well. Since its inception in 2003, the premier car portal has gone miles in introducing a new technology-driven car-selling trend in the market, which was earlier ruled by the time-consuming methods of searching the newspaper classifieds or visiting car dealers and car bazaars.

“Pakwheels.com is a first of its kind web portal with an exclusive resource library on various automobiles, as well as an interactive forum that helps car enthusiasts to engage in real-time conversations and exchange ideas, with the blog, which serves as an automotive news sources,” says Suneel Sarfraz Munj, Chairman Pakwheels.com

Hanif Bhatti, the founder of Pakwheels.com, on his return to Pakistan after living abroad for over two decades, decided to start a valued-added online community dedicated to automobiles in partnership with his friend Jagdesh Pahuja. At that time, Pakwheels.com was started in a small office in the basement with zero investment and with no such objective to generate money from the venture. As the community started growing, it had also started generating some revenue, mainly through online advertisements, which were then invested back to the forum to make it more informative and interactive.

Having emerged as the biggest online platform of its kind in a short period, two young entrepreneurs, Raza Saeed and Suneel Sarfraz seized the opportunity and decided to invest in the forum as an exclusive business entity in December 2008. As part of the move towards making Pakwheels.com a market leader, its office was also shifted from Karachi to Lahore.

Having evolved as the leading online marketplace to buy and sell cars, bikes and other vehicles, Pakwheels.com has also emerged as an exclusive knowledge centre, offering market updates, automotive reviews, comparative analyses, new offerings and a dedicated blogging forum where one can share one’s experience and insights with others.

Thanks to Pakwheels.com, people in Pakistan became ‘smart buyers and sellers’, as they now live in a pretty new world with everything at their fingertips and that too 24/7.

From loads of smart mobile applications to a range of desktop and web-based functions, this online-classified automobile market lists more than 160,000 cars and over 24,000 motorcycles, which are ready to be picked up via a single click. With 100,000 unique visitors per day and an ever-growing inventory of around 45,000 listings added per month, over 600,000 people get direct access to car sellers. If you can’t really buy a Ferrari at the moment, then you can, at least, find your budget-dream-car at Pakwheels.com, a perfect window-shopping spot for occasional wanderers and regular visitors, serving both the haves and have-nots equally around the clock.

“There are more than 3 million cars in Pakistan, wherein around 0.8 million cars are traded every year and some 40 to 50 per cent of those cars have already been placed online. This trend suggests the entire car trading activity will be shifted online within the next 5 years, which is very encouraging. This is chiefly because with an ever-increasing number of users online, there is an increase in the demand for an easy access to information related to cars and processes that facilitate buying and selling,” says Suneel Sarfraz Munj.

Due to its exceptional business growth and bright future prospects, many foreign investors are now looking to invest in Pakwheels.com, which is aiming to become a billion-dollar company in the next five years. The company received $3.5 million funding in 2014 from the Malaysia-based Frontier Digital Ventures, making it the first Pakistani startup to interest a Malaysian venture capital fund.

Pakwheels.com has gone ever further and its phenomenal growth is not merely confined to such encouraging statistics. The Pakistan Auto Show, for instance, has become the biggest car exhibition in the country. It is held in six cities every year to help the local industry come together and to showcase their products, technologies and capabilities. The annual car festival provides potential buyers with first-hand information on all kinds of cars, bikes and vehicles and also helps in attracting international buyers of vehicles and automotive components that ultimately increase the domestic industry’s exposure in the export market.

 

Manufacturing and exporting hub in Asia

“Pakistan has the potential to become an auto manufacturing and exporting hub in Asia and our auto shows serve as thoroughfares of true engineering and manufacturing diversity of Pakistani auto companies and provide them with an opportunity to forge new alliances and business ventures with international firms,” says Raza Saeed, CEO Pakwheels.com. “We started as an online community where automobile enthusiasts could buy and sell their vehicles, both old and new,” he explains.

Soon enough, people began visiting the portal for information about available brands, do-it-yourself projects related to cars and the problems associated with the available vehicles.

“That’s when we thought – why not turn this into something bigger? Why not give our users an opportunity to meet one another in person and provide a space where car enthusiasts can interact and discuss the happenings of the industry in Pakistan?” says Saeed.

“So it was on March 23, 2011 that the first show was organized in Lahore where vehicle owners got together and showcased their rides. Since then, we haven’t looked back and have been organizing our grand automobile shows in six cities including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,” said Saeed. “We are evolving and so is the auto market in Pakistan, which is not as mature as that of India. We always welcome new entrants and car portals, and firmly believe in promoting a competitive business environment. Our ultimate goal is to build an ecosystem for all kinds of auto-related services and functions, including buying, selling, researching, as well as the auxiliary services like maintenance, insurance or financing, etc,” he further said.

Having won prestigious awards such as Arabia 500 Fast Growth Award, Brand of the Year, TeraData 2013 and TeraData 2014, Pakwheels.com has been offering equal space to both buyers and sellers being an equal opportunity online trading portal.

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