After finishing a master’s in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010, Tan moved back to Singapore to work for Innov8, the investment arm of Singapore’s telecom giant Singtel. The next five years helped him to make connections within the VC community and understand investors’ priorities, he says. He headed the fund’s investments in Southeast Asia before moving to San Francisco with the firm, returning to Singapore in 2015.
The genesis of Carro can be traced back to Tan helping a former colleague find a used car online and finding little transparency in quality or pricing. In the U.S., on the other hand, used car dealer Carvana, launched in 2012 by billionaire Ernest Garcia III, had found success operating almost entirely online, offering its customers photo-heavy profiles of pre-inspected cars with history reports a click away. Seeing an opportunity, Tan founded Carro in 2015 with Carnegie Mellon classmates Aditya Lesmana and Kelvin Chng.