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Taran Kumar, founder of DTAutomobile



Taran Kumar, founder of DTAutomobile

T​aran Kumar is the founder of DTAutomobile, a highly successful and independent luxury car importing business based in Indonesia. He founded his business when he was previously living in London and pursuing business school studies. Whilst residing in London, Taran saw a business opportunity. Being heavily involved and active in monitoring the car trading industry in London and Europe, Taran was able to build his own acumen and envisioned ways in which he could develop the domestic luxury car industry in Indonesia. His expereinces and ideas culminated in the birth of his business, which he has passionately developed for the past few years.

A well noted entrepreneur who has been featured by several publications, Taran is here with us today to offer us his insights on his current venture and share with us his ideas on how to tackle business development.

​​Taran, tell us abit about your background

Well, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My family owns numerous well established businesses in Indonesia. One of which is a renowned garments manufacturing business which I have been heavily involved in since a young age. Through my family businesses, I have been able to develop my own business experience and vision as I had the opportunity to deal with and create business relations with numerous big names internationally. Besides all this I am also an independent stocks trader, I believe in investments.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on developing DTAutomobile at the moment. I am personally striving to bring in more diesel engine cars into Indonesia. I want to try to change the minds of people who love cars. Especially in regards to diesel engines. I am trying to show, as against people’s expectations, that diesel engines have much better fuel consumption as well as being environmentally friendly. That is a major thing I am working on in my luxury car business.

​As my business network grew exponentially along these years, I’m also working on expanding the market for vehicular oil lubricants in Indonesia. I want to make it excessively viable and reachable to everyone in Indonesia. This relates to something that my family has been involved in as well. My father has a similar business specializing in vehicular oil lubricants based in Jakarta. Now, I am striving to reach each markets in Java and everywhere else.

Aside from cars, I have a love for properties. I believe investing in properties is the best option for business and personal growth. Especially, if you have got spare cash rather than buying luxury goods and materialistic things to boost personal egos. Having another property file in your drawer makes you grow day by day. So I started investing in property personally within Indonesia. With property as well it grows. All you just see is people offering you to buy at a higher price, never at a lower.

Where did your initial idea for DTAutomobile come from?

My idea was based on my own passion for cars since I was a little boy. Having a father who loves cars is a blessing too. So when I started my venture in importing cars, my father had fully supported me in realizing it even without thinking twice. Having my ideas ripe and perfect, we kicked off with personal orders from people around Jakarta. Initially the orders were received from mostly friends and family. There were even personal investment to try out demand.

​I think the uniqueness of a private luxury car importer is getting the best of best cars. It is all about being bespoke. Doing what you want with these cars. It’s all about options, from upholstery leather colours, everything can be bespoken. This has never been done before. So I wanted to get in on it but not only that, offering these things at a price way, way cheaper then market values.

So what is the revenue model for DTAutomobile?

At DTAutomobiles, we make money but not as much as local competitors and dealers. The only reason being my objective to get more people to trust our brand and creating a very high turnover for our brand. We make money from each car base on how much difference am we are willing to give to each client and whether there should be a high charge of fee for our importing services. Importantly, that fee is nothing compared to the discounts we give customers. They could even buy another car with the amount of discount we give them.
How do you realize your business ideas?

​I do take time to understand and get focused. I do meet a lot of people and I love networking. Having someone to talk about your ideas too is the most essential thing as you can understand different perspectives and their ideas. It is always best to reassure what you have with another workaholic. I have realised a lot of my ideas. And all I do is work, work and work. I sometimes take the time to think and research based on the smallest thing that may be able to help me accomplish my business ideas.

What does a typical week in your work life look like?

My typical day is to wake up in the morning , spare some time for coffee and breakfast, as those are the two most essential things when you wake up. Giving sometime to God is my essential guide to a perfect day. Then I head to my office and clear out my morning work and have a meeting with my accountant on the company’s books and accounts , making sure everything gives out a tally.

On a busy day, I don’t even have the time to go to the office. I will be out for meetings the whole day and giving time to satisfy customers by attending to each one of them and their needs. These meetings are normally far away from my office so I take on the traffic jam of Jakarta and move around replying emails from all over with UK and The States as I work with them.

After work hours, I give myself time to go to the gym and spa. During tiring days, I just swim at home. I think it is essential to exercise and rejuvenate ourselves everday and take an hour from work , so for me exercising is part of my schedule.

After that I head home and spend time with my family and have dinner together if not I go and tend to meet my friends for an hour. I have to be back home before 11pm as during that time as American markets and offices open so I work until about 2-3am everyday. Often I attend to my conference calls and emails with abroad , and there goes my daily life.

During the weekends, I tend to go dinners and sometimes clubbing as well as to new fantastic places in Jakarta. I like to treat myself with a nice glass of wine or liquor, while socialising and catching up with my friends.

On Sunday, I go to church with my family as Sundays are very much likely to be dedicated and spending time with God as well as family.
Would you have approached certain things differently in regards to DTAutomobile?

“In life there are no regrets , just lessons.” I truly believe in this statement. In all honesty, I may have done certain things differently in regards to spending my time in London and making sure I had more time concentrating on my luxury car business and meeting more and more suppliers and also from all other parts of Europe. However, there was also a difficulty. I was juggling between business school and my meetings, I think it was a pretty good outcome that I was able to kick off DTAutomobile at the end of it all. So really I have no regrets.

Despite this I have I’ve learnt many lessons in the past few years from my business, my travels and studies. I grew and understood that I should be completely focused on one business rather then juggling around several because I have been involved in several.

What is one advice you would give to other entrepreneurs out there?

The advice I would give to entrepreneurs out there is to learn and understand the concept and characteristics of managing a business.

I would also like to advise them that Faith and determination is the key to achieving wonders. As I believe Faith moves mountains. This gives the upper hand of focus and positive thinking. That will definitely enable a successful outcome to entrepreneurs out there.

Something overlooked often is the power of note keeping. I think carrying a notebook is also essential for entrepreneurs as ideas come anytime, anywhere. Having it jotted down is a key to not forgetting as what they have just written might be their big one tomorrow.

What is the greatest challenged you’ve faced so far with your business?

The greatest challenge we faced so far in DTAutomobile is finding new suppliers in London. London is an interesting place, as initially I was completely new to the place and didn’t know how the tax system worked so that was the greatest challenge I had to overcome initially. This is because for my company cutting cost is our main priority and the tax in the UK is about 17%. This gives us a huge challenge as we had to take back the tax and make sure that is brought down to making the overall cost for the car cheaper.

What is a business idea you are willing to share with our readers?

I personally don’t have few businesses in mind that I don’t mind sharing. I do have an idea about making an annual conference for understanding how each entrepreneurs thinks. I think this idea will be the most effective idea to pursue for the purposes of now.

What are some of the online resources you utilize daily?

Probably these websites:
Bloomberg (
WallStreet Journal (
Autotrader ( (
What is one important book you would recommend to our readers?

The Holy Bible, possibly the most important book you can read. Furthermore, Topgear and GQ.​



Email: [email protected]


What Kills A Startup



1 – Being inflexible and not actively seeking or using customer feedback

Ignoring your users is a tried and true way to fail. Yes that sounds obvious but this was the #1 reason given for failure amongst the 32 startup failure post-mortems we analyzed. Tunnel vision and not gathering user feedback are fatal flaws for most startups. For instance, ecrowds, a web content management system company, said that “ We spent way too much time building it for ourselves and not getting feedback from prospects — it’s easy to get tunnel vision. I’d recommend not going more than two or three months from the initial start to getting in the hands of prospects that are truly objective.”

2 – Building a solution looking for a problem, i.e., not targeting a “market need”

Choosing to tackle problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need was often cited as a reason for failure. Sure, you can build an app and see if it will stick, but knowing there is a market need upfront is a good thing. “Companies should tackle market problems not technical problems” according to the BricaBox founder. One of the main reasons BricaBox failed was because it was solving a technical problem. The founder states that, “While it’s good to scratch itches, it’s best to scratch those you share with the greater market. If you want to solve a technical problem, get a group together and do it as open source.”

3 – Not the right team

A diverse team with different skill sets was often cited as being critical to the success of a starti[ company. Failure post-mortems often lamented that “I wish we had a CTO from the start, or wished that the startup had “a founder that loved the business aspect of things”. In some cases, the founding team wished they had more checks and balances. As Nouncers founder stated, “This brings me back to the underlying problem I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made.” Wesabe founder also stated that he was the sole and quite stubborn decision maker for much of the enterprises life, and therefore he can blame no one but himself for the failures of Wesabe. Team deficiencies were given as a reason for startup failure almost 1/3 of the time.

4 – Poor Marketing

Knowing your target audience and knowing how to get their attention and convert them to leads and ultimately customers is one of the most important skills of a successful business. Yet, in almost 30% of failures, ineffective marketing was a primary cause of failure. Oftentimes, the inability to market was a function of founders who liked to code or build product but who didn’t relish the idea of promoting the product. The folks at Devver highlighted the need to find someone who enjoys creating and finding distribution channels and developing business relationship for the company as a key need that startups should ensure they fill.

5 – Ran out of cash

Money and time are finite and need to be allocated judiciously. The question of how should you spend your money was a frequent conundrum and reason for failure cited by failed startups. The decision on whether to spend significantly upfront to get the product off the group or develop gradually over time is a tough act to balance. The team at YouCastr cited money problems as the reason for failure but went on to highlight other reasons for shutting down vs. trying to raise more money writing:

The single biggest reason we are closing down (a common one) is running out of cash. Despite putting the company in an EXTREMELY lean position, generating revenue, and holding out as long as we could, we didn’t have the cash to keep going. The next few reasons shed more light as to why we chose to shut down instead of finding more cash.

The old saw was that more companies were killed by poor cashflow than anything else, but factors 1, 2 and 4 probably are the main contributing factors to that problem. No cash, no flow. The issue No 3 – the team – is interesting, as if I take that comment ” I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made” and think about some of the founders and startup CEOs I know, I can safely say that the main way that any decision was made was by agreeing with them – it was “my way or the highway”. I don’t therefore “buy” the team argument, I more buy the willingness of the key decision makers to change when things are not working (aka “pivoting” – point 9).


About the Author

This article was produced by Broadsight. Broadsight is an attempt to build a business not just to consult to the emerging Broadband Media / Quadruple Play / Web 2.0 world, but to be structured according to its open principles. see more.

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Callum Connects

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor



Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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