YourMechanic (yourmechanic.com) is a Mountain View startup based in the Old Mill, with $1.8 million in seed funding from Andreesen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Ashton Kutcher and other angel investors. The company recently won $50,000 from TechCrunch.
Art Agrawal (CEO) co-founded the company with Dongyi Liao (CTO), whose background includes MIT and Nvidia. Art wants to make automobile repair simple with clearly understood pricing. In India, Art didn't grow up with a car, His uncle had a car, but he relied on a driver to look after it. When it came to buying his own car, Art, like many U.S. immigrants, had questions. Should he go to the dealer for service or visit a local garage mechanic? How much will repairs cost? How often should you change the oil? What grade of oil do you need? Which services are essential?
If you've listened on NPR to Click and Clack (who, sadly, are retiring after 25 years of answering drivers' queries), you'll know that diagnosing car problems can be tricky. YourMechanic's software matches customers with mechanics. The goal is to find a BMW owner a mechanic with BMW certifications and experience. Of mechanics who apply to work with YourMechanic, roughly a quarter qualify and they typically have at least 10 years of experience.
I spoke with Michael. He works full time for YourMechanic and was about to dash off to a client, as he's in high demand. I asked him how he could inspect underneath a car without a pit or lift. He said he can jack up the car and put a tarp underneath it. He captures oil and other fluids in EPA approved hazardous waste containers, so there is no driveway mess. He also reminded me that many tasks, like battery and spark plug replacements, can be performed by lifting the hood.
They don't run afoul of city ordinances by doing repairs in driveways, not on the street, and only taking jobs that can be completed the same day, in six hours or less, said Art.
The customer can order service from the web. Customer apps will soon be available. The customer can specify car problems, car type and required services on YourMechanic.com. The website clearly shows the services available and the steps a mechanic will take in identifying a problem, and provides a price. YourMechanic's services include repair, maintenance and inspections.
Mechanics use an Android app from YourMechanic that highlights appointments. YourMechanic procures parts from wholesalers, like O'Reilly (ORLY), who drop-ship them to mechanics, sometimes within a day. Mechanics receive ratings and reviews. Many auto mechanics employed by garages like to earn extra income by fixing cars in their spare time. YourMechanic is ideal for experienced mechanics who want a second income. This reflects a trend in second jobs for professionals who use websites like Elance.com, liveops.com or odesk.com to augment their pay. YourMechanic makes money by taking 10 percent of a mechanic's hourly fee and between 0 and 15 percent of parts costs.
YourMechanic's challenges are to scale its services to reach other regions, develop sustainable pricing and ensure parts are delivered efficiently. The company is also seeking ideas on how to attract new customers — so if you have any ideas, add them to comments following the online version of this article at mv-voice.com.
Angela Hey advises technology companies on marketing and business development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.