Former Tesla Executive’s Automotive SaaS Retail Platform, Tekion Gains Unicorn Status

Tekion was built on a simple idea: to make buying a car simple. Before Jay Vijayan founded Tekion, he was a Tesla executive and spent four years at the Elon Musk-headed company where he created its software platform to deliver a frictionless experience to customers. He left and founded Tekion in 2016.

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Today, Tekion's cloud-based product helps car dealerships deliver a seamless experience that includes everything from processing loans to recording ownership. The company brings consumers, dealers, and original equipment manufacturers together on its cloud-native platform and connects the entire automotive retail journey through its comprehensive Automotive Retail Cloud. The company uses technologies like IoT and machine learning to give customers a modern experience.

Now, the four-year-old startup has announced it has raised $150 million in a Series C funding round led by private equity investor Advent International. There was also participation from Index Ventures, Airbus Ventures, FM Capital, and Exor, the holding company of Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari. This funding round brings the total raised by the company to $215 million and the firm now has a valuation of over $1 billion. The funding will help Tekion accelerate the rollout of its automotive cloud system in the U.S. The company also plans to use some of the funds to expand internationally, with both Europe and Asia in its sights for 2021.

“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?” said CEO Vijayan in a press statement. “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.”

While Tekion hasn’t revealed how many customers have bought its cloud software, Vijayan says it’s already being used across 28 states. Though car dealership owners have shared stories of their experiences with Tekion.

TechCrunch spoke to Joe Castelino, whose Volkswagen dealership in San Jose has benefited from the startup’s offerings. According to Castelino, Tekion can make recommendations based on a car’s history. It might, for instance, suggest a brake fluid flush to a customer without an advisor having to look through that customer’s history, Castelino explained.

“As soon as a [repair order] is live, it’s in a dispatcher’s hand and a technician can grab the car.” It’s like that with every step, he insists. “You’re saving 15 minutes again and again, and suddenly, you have three hours where your intake can be higher.”