Prasad G Palla is a technology executive bringing new business strategies to life through the application of people and technology. With over two decades of experience in technology at leading global enterprises and early-stage companies, Prasad now serves as the Chief Technical Officer at Mahindra First Choice Wheels Ltd, which is India’s largest used auto platform business organizing the market by demand and supply. Presently Mahindra First Choice has the largest pan-India used car retailing network and several fast-growing partnerships to procure used vehicles efficiently.
Since the start of his career, Prasad has led several digital transformation initiatives across multiple companies to leverage technology for new solutions and enable data-driven decision-making. He has also managed technology teams across 8 different countries and set up a 200+ engineering team in India, which consistently ranked among the most motivated teams in multiple internal surveys, with a lesser attrition rate than the industry standard.
Prasad started his career with i2 Technologies and went on to serve several other companies like Microsoft corporation, Talisma, Ocwen Financial Solutions, Informatica, Avagmah, and QS Quacquarelli Symonds. He played a key role in the core company leadership at Informatica, Avagmah, and QS. In 2013, he moved back from the U.S. to India to establish Quark Science and Technologies, a science education company to provide world-class science education at affordable prices for lower-middle-class Indian students. However, after spending two years on his venture, Prasad moved back to the technology sector and joined Avagmah as its CTO.
Currently, at Mahindra First Choice, Prasad is a part of the management committee and the group-level Technology Leadership team for the 19 billion Mahindra Group of Companies.
“Mahindra is one of the most respected brands in India and has the highest levels of trust and integrity as part of the work ethic. I relish working in such an environment,”- he said. “This company is at an inflection point and has started a journey to leverage technology to become the dominant player in the market. This is an exciting opportunity for me as the CTO of the organization.”
Over the years, Prasad and the products he managed have received several awards, including, SIIA CODiE Award, Startup 50 best technology award, Informatica R&D Innovation Prize, Informatica Cloud- Excellence Award, Informatica Cloud- Extreme customer focus award, Informatica R&D labs award, Truss Award etc.
Serving the Growing Automotive Sector of India
Mahindra First Choice Wheels is one of the key companies of the Mahindra Group, which is a $19 billion conglomerate. It operates in after-market services of the automotive sector and is mainly focused on the used car industry, which is a largely unorganized sector in India, with a market size of around $23 billion.
Mahindra First Choice is working on organizing the used car market by aggregating demand and supply by leveraging technology.
Currently, it has the largest pan- India used car retailing network, large and fast-growing partnerships to procure used vehicles efficiently, and the major share of the enterprise solutions market for banks, NBFCs, OEMs, and insurance companies.
Mahindra First Choice now offers various services, including used car sales and procurement, E-commerce for new and used vehicles, support for launching electric vehicles, yard management solutions, auto inspections, an auction portal for sales and procurement of vehicles, India Blue Book, and Carandbike, a major Autoportal in India.
Creating a Sustainable Model
Currently valued at $23 billion, the used car market in India is projected to grow at double the rate at a CAGR of 19.5% till FY 2026-2027. Key factors contributing to this massive growth in the next few years are the rising middle class and the growing youth population. This massive growth in the used car market has prompted multiple organizations to enter the sector. However, the primary issue with the used car market in the country is the lack of organized players. The unorganized and Semi Organized participants take up nearly 45% of the total market share, and Consumer to Consumer sales take up 35%, leaving only 15% market share for the organized sector, which often leads to a highly supply-constrained market. This also means there are no set standards for vehicle inspection, and the price of a car gets determined in an ad-hoc manner with little or no clarity. In most cases, buyers are robbed of the satisfaction and excitement of getting a fully certified car with a detailed inspection.
So, Mahindra First Choice strives to transform the used car landscape in India by making transactions simple, efficient, transparent, and equitable.
“Most of our competitors do not have a good revenue model and rely on investor money to scale operations and become profitable. This might not be a sustainable model in the current macroeconomic environment,”- explained Prasad. “Mahindra first choice has multiple businesses that are generating revenues and can create an organic growth engine for the company to grow in a reliable and organic way. It is also backed by Mahindra, which inherently adds trust to the customers.”
Looking at the Future
Mahindra First Choice aspires to become the most customer-centric auto tech company. As the CTO of the organization, Prasad is working on creating a series of digital transformation steps to integrate the islands of technologies and operations and create an efficient suite of applications, built technology platforms that allow for agility for operations and automate a lot of repetitive tasks, standardize the data definitions and build a data platform for data-driven decision making at every stage, and develop the teams into agile and self-managed squads to speed up development.