In 2019, Tekion was a technology company toddler — a 3-year-old startup betting it could upend auto retailing with a dealership management system driven by artificial intelligence. When it was time to aggressively test and refine the technology, Tekion CEO Jay Vijayan pitched an unconventional idea to his executive team.
A dealership involved in an early Tekion pilot program was for sale, and Vijayan proposed that Tekion buy it. The move would be unusual for a DMS provider, but the founder envisioned a powerful upside: using the business as a real-world laboratory for Tekion's developers.
"Why can't we own a dealership so that they truly understand the business?" Vijayan recalls thinking.
By February 2020, Tekion had snatched up Gilroy Buick-GMC in California, just more than an hour's drive from its Silicon Valley headquarters, for more than $1 million. The gambit proved so successful that Tekion bought a second dealership — Hyundai of Gilroy — several months later.