The On Call with Insignia Ventures podcast introduces: A Leader A Minute! A Leader A Minute is a new mini-series featuring startup leaders at companies we’ve covered or featured on our show. We go beyond the perspectives of the founders or CEOs and get to know the other key executives who are driving the growth […]

A Leader A Minute Episode 6: The Nuclear Scientist Powering Carro’s AI Engine

The On Call with Insignia Ventures podcast introduces: A Leader A Minute! A Leader A Minute is a new mini-series featuring startup leaders at companies we’ve covered or featured on our show. We go beyond the perspectives of the founders or CEOs and get to know the other key executives who are driving the growth of these companies and creating an impact for the customers and communities they serve. They share first-day experiences, the growth they’ve experienced on the job, leadership styles, and what excites them about the future.

For each episode we do a Q&A interview for our blog and also produce a one-minute highlight for our TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We also highlight open roles in the functions led by these executives in case you would like to join their team and work with them as well!

In this sixth episode of A Leader A Minute, we talk to Bryan Tan, Chief Data Scientist at Carro, about his previous work as a nuclear scientist, how that has influenced his approach to developing Carro’s AI and tech innovation engine and vice versa, as well as his favorite car and thoughts on the future of auto retail and cars.  

@vcinsider Get to know the leader behind the AI engine powering Southeast Asia’s fastest growing auto retail platform Carro #podcast #ai #scientist #datascience #car ♬ original sound – The VC Insider

About the Featured Leader #6

Bryan Tan is an AI tech innovations strategist, tech thought leader, lecturer, Nuclear Scientist, and ESG activist. In his role as Chief Data Scientist at Carro, he leads all aspects of technological innovations for Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing auto retail platform. Prior to Carro, he was a research fellow at the Singapore Nuclear Research and Safety Initiative. During his time there, he had also completed his PhD in Earth Science (Machine Learning and Computational Physics) where he worked on new ways to encapsulate and contain radioactivity from spent nuclear fuel. He was also previously an educator in physics and entrepreneurship at Singapore’s Anglo-Chinese Junior College and a policy analyst at Singapore’s Ministry of Defense. 

Bryan has taught and spoken at top academic institutions like NUS, Singapore Science Centre, Goldschmidt- Paris, Cambridge University, Oxford University and Australian- ANSTO on a wide variety of topics ranging from nuclear physics to computer engineering. He is also an associate at many organisations such as Fellow of Geological Society, London, The Oxford and Cambridge Society of Singapore, Society of Medical Physicists (Singapore).

Join Bryan in developing the AI and tech innovation engine of Carro (Full Time roles in Singapore): 

  1. Senior Machine Learning Engineer 
  2. Machine Learning Engineer
  3. Business Intelligence Manager
  4. Business Intelligence Analyst
  5. Data Analyst
  6. Data Scientist
  7. Product Analyst
  8. More Roles Across Southeast Asia

On Call with Insignia: What were you doing before Carro? And how did you find out about the company? Why did you decide to join Carro?

Bryan: Prior to joining Carro, I was a nuclear scientist. I worked with supercomputers to devise ways to encapsulate and contain radioactivity from spent nuclear fuel, which remained radioactive for thousands of years after it had been used. My research in Cambridge University spanned many collaborators in Europe and driving across the English Channel was a monthly endeavor. Luckily, I love driving and of course, cars.

Aaron, my buddy from the army days, founded Carro and we have always been chatting about cars, from pricing, and taxation to intercontinental exports. 

Coincidentally, more than a year ago, Aaron asked whether I was interested in heading up a data science team to anchor the digitalisation of the car trade, a team that would be grounded in deep math, science and technology. It took me probably two whole seconds to say yes.

Aaron has been a great friend since my army days. He is smart and decisive and working with him is natural. We do not communicate much with words. A simple phrase or sentence conveys much between us. It is easy to make twenty friends, but hard to keep a friend for twenty years… So taking up his offer is a no-brainer. 

On Call with Insignia: What does it mean to be Chief Scientist, especially at Southeast Asia’s first unicorn car marketplace?

Bryan: It has been a truly amazing experience thus far. I oversee all the Machine Learning and AI programs at Carro. The core mandate for my team is innovation. We run initiatives to improve people’s car ownership and usage experience with a focus on South East Asia. Here at Carro, we are involved in almost every vertical relating to cars, from buying, selling, leasing, insurance and finance. You name it, we do it. And we do it differently, empowered by AIML. 

Some examples include price automation in car transactions. Distance-based and behavioural-based insurance premiums and maintenance costs. AI monitoring of engine health to automated inspections and listing of cars… These and much more form the foundations of AI/ ML in Carro. 

Besides automating processes, I made sure to spent a few minutes each day on divergent thinking, basically inventing ways to further enhance the car ownership experience with data and AI. 

On Call with Insignia: In your time here so far, what’s the biggest impact you’ve been able to make in your role? 

Bryan: Pricing of cars. The spread between buy and sell price used to be huge with data opacity but now with Carro, we are able to give consumers the best price for their cars, be it purchase or sale transactions and we have experienced a rapidly growing customer base because of our excellent pricing and great service.

We are one of the fastest-growing companies in Singapore for the past two years running with a Compound annual growth rate at 422% in 2021. Of course, this will not be possible without the strong support of Yinglan and his team in Insignia. 

On Call with Insignia: How has your experience in nuclear research shaped the way you approach your role in Carro?

Bryan: I have always seen myself as a problem solver. This mentality has not changed. From orbital calculations in uranium chemistry to optimization of the car usage experience… these are problems with different time horizons, yet solving these problems will be equally impactful in shaping people’s living experiences.  

On Call with Insignia: How would you describe Carro’s company culture in one word?

Bryan: Opportunities. In Carro, regardless of whether you are C-suite or fresh graduate, young or old, man or woman, as long as you have a good idea, we will support you and give you the opportunities to make an impact. And have fun while doing all these – we are a really fun-loving team, even outside of work, we meet up for happy hour, board games, etc. I love board games. 

On Call with Insignia: How has your role in Carro evolved your understanding of and appreciation for your expertise in data science? 

Bryan: My expertise has been put to the test many times. But just like AI models, we human beings also become sharper and faster and more accurate each time we tackle a new challenge as we never stop learning. 

Besides our consumer offerings, we are also doing our part for the data science community. An exciting initiative is our up-and-coming Carro x Amazon Scholarship for data science. This scholarship supports young people to read data science in the universities, builds a steady pipeline of talents for Carro. Last but not least, we also want to play a part in strengthening and expanding the data science fraternity in Singapore.  

On Call with Insignia: What are you most excited about for Carro’s future with respect to your own function and what can people looking to work with you in Carro look forward to?

Bryan: Being an explorer, I am constantly excited by new frontiers. In Carro, we are expanding business and collaborations. We work closely with banks, OEMs, dealers and consumers. We devise new ways of car ownership experience from leasing to buying and selling. In fact, people come to us not for a test-drive experience but a test-own experience. Test-own means that you take the car for a few days and see if it suits your lifestyle. Conversion is high and Carro is dedicated to empowering the user experience with our technology and our people too! We are lucky to have a team of committed, capable and caring staff to realize our ambitions. 

Carro is a company that truly believes in using data and technology to solve problems and empower our customers. In some companies, data plays a passive role, but here at Carro, it plays an active role. The environment here is fast and people joining us will have an exciting ride combining innovation, opportunities, and fun! 

On Call with Insignia: What is your favorite/ ideal car?

Bryan: Well my favorite car, incidentally is probably the Tesla Model 3. The reason is it’s a really high-tech car, still theoretically affordable. Where it comes from is allow us to be able to do our part for the environment for sustainability, it produces less exhaust because all the exhaust is produced in the power station. It’s a more efficient process. Besides that, I think that the Tesla Model 3 is like the Ford of the past, where you build a mass-produced model that is efficient, that people like and people using it: the staple car. 

I think the staple cars are where the volume is. That’s where the good is done for most majority of people. Of course luxury cars are amazing too. We aspire to own them, but the cost of running a luxury car is very expensive. Running an Aston Martin you probably need to change the break pad, it will probably cost you an arm and leg. So I think Tesla Model 3 is my ideal car. 

On Call with Insignia: What is the car feature of the future that cars don’t have today? 

Bryan: I think the auto summon function will be useful. Say you’re in a multi-story car park and then you’re going to come out to the fourth floor to retrieve the car. You can actually summon the car to drive down safely and you can just board it. I envision autonomous driving as the key feature that would distinguish cars of the future.

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