Partsium is a digital marketplace, focused on Latin America, that sells auto-parts. The company was developed by LAB Ventures here at LAB Miami and just launched in Colombia this past month. The platform allows vendors to sell their products to a wide range of companies and individuals in the automotive industry while conserving their desired privacy. It also allows consumers to choose from a variety of products, giving them the option to compare prices and brands. Furthermore, Partsium aims to solve the ongoing issue of the remote automotive industry in Andean countries. On this Member Spotlight, Francisco Guevara, the CEO of Partsium, will further our knowledge on this new start-up.
Why did you choose to become the CEO of Partsium?
I’m Venezuelan and the thought of leaving the nation never crossed my mind. Just before moving, I met Tigre and we started talking about marketplaces and transactions between companies. Our conversation was mainly focused on the thought of solving the problems that surround the automotive industry.
To seek for more information regarding the automotive industry, I decided to go to several mechanical workshops and auto-part stores in Venezuela. I discovered that these are family businesses where the owner is in charge of buying the supplies and their children become their successors. They basically shop auto-parts from the same twenty to fifty providers (depending on the size of the shop) that have supplied them since they first opened their businesses. They operate their stores in exactly the same way as when they started and, now that their children are stepping up, they seem obligated to change some things. The market has grown and there is more competition among the products and prices offered; therefore, the owners have to seek for better purchase options. I knew that all of the Andean countries faced similar problems, and that’s where Partsium plays its role.
There is very little visibility in the automotive industry and the market is highly fragmented. How do you assure that every time you shop you have the best product at a preeminent price? A digital market ensures that customers can compare products and prices in one platform.
What did you do before coming to the LAB?
I worked in the automotive industry, specifically in the hardware industry, with companies such as General Motors. Like many entrepreneurs, I got that desire to create something and embark on a new project. The first thing I did was to create a hardware store, and later I started to import products to Venezuela. When I met Tigre and got a sense of the idea developed by LAB Ventures, everything just clicked. I wanted to create a marketplace in Venezuela focused on the hardware industry, so this new project allowed me to originate a platform in which auto-parts would be distributed in various Latin American countries. This, and the appealing idea to work in a growing economy and in a space that offers networking, such as, The LAB, convinced me that I wanted to work on Partsium.
How do you plan on expanding Partisium?
We just launched the platform on the first week of june. The answer is being quite positive; it is being a bit slower in terms of records than we initially expected but we are receiving very good feedback from the sellers and buyers. We are in a very early stage; we still need to understand the functionality. We have to solve the needs of those who buy and sell auto parts and make it comfortable for them.
What target do you have in mind?
We first launched in Colombia and our second market will be Mexico. The idea is to expand to the rest of Latin American and then in emerging markets.
What differentiates Partsium from other automotive digital markets?
Most of the other vendors in the region are directed to the final consumer, while we focus on transactions between companies. This makes our concept distinct, since the problem we are addressing is completely different. We have functionalities that adapt to this type of transactions: the possibility to create several price lists, create many client groups, set a minimum order amount depending on the needs of the seller, etc. We provide functionalities that replicate the conditions that they handle in the physical world to the digital form.
What are the main benefits of Partsium?
One of the benefits of this platform is that we gain more sales for the vendors. We are an alternative channel where they can market their products and we are in charge of bringing traffic to this site. In this platform we can see many buyers and products in one place. It helps us that here, at the LAB, people know about inbound marketing and how to attract customers. Another benefit is that we are focusing on the privacy of the catalog. In this business, the sellers try to hide information so that their competition is not aware of their providers. So, to address this issue, we incorporate two levels of privacy where the vendors can select who can see their products, who can know the price, etc. The benefit for the buyers in turn, is that they can see and compare several prices.
What has been the most challenging aspect in this initial stage?
The biggest difficulty we face is the level of digitization of information in LATAM. The sellers in Latin American countries do not have standardized information. As it is not standardized, gathering information becomes a tough task. This is a very important challenge, and generates pressures for the companies that are in their initial stage.
What is your favorite thing about working on Partsium?
The most interesting thing about this job is understanding how our clients think. As we understand how they register and interact with the platform, we learn what we need to address to make their transactions flow easily.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
It’s a rollercoaster, there is a lot of pressure. Prepare yourself psychologically. This is not something someone does for money; people that do it for money don’t last in this business. This is something that has to have a conviction and the conviction usually happens by falling in love with the problem. You have to fall in love with the problem in order to question multiple solutions and that will help you question the possible solutions. If you fall in love with the solution, you will not succeed.
By Alesia Lopez