http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2012/10/26/yourmechanic-brings-car-repairs-to-you


Mountain View Voice

News - October 26, 2012

YourMechanic brings car repairs to you

by Angela Hey

This week I swapped cars with my husband and my car broke down. He managed to drive it, somewhat erratically, to a local service garage. The battery was dead on arrival. Had I been more diligent about observing my car's warning lights, I could have invited a mechanic to my home to replace the alternator using YourMechanic's new service.

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 amhey@techviser.com.

Comments

Posted by Alison Chaiken, a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Greetings Art and Dongyi and Angela. I am the organizer of the free and non-commercial Silicon Valley Automotive Open Source meetup.com group, which has nearly 500 members, and which meets monthly to hear talks by the likes of Stanford, Ford, GM, Tata Consultancy Services, Mentor Embedded, Tesla and the like. My purpose in starting the group was to foster local innovation in the automotive space and promote engineering best practices in automotive software. I would love to schedule a presentation by YourMechanic that describes the business model and implementation. The group would be a great way for you guys to inform local car OEM's and their contractors about your work. We are currently booking the March slot. You can see our calendar or signup for mailing list or send me a message here:

Web Link

Feel free to join the group and attend the meetings even if you're not ready to present. We previously had a 4-startup panel discussion with shorter talks and would consider doing so again.

I am also a Dojo member and MIT grad, so your success particularly pleases me.

Best wishes,
Alison Chaiken
Web Link


Posted by Mechanic, a resident of Castro City
on Nov 12, 2012 at 8:03 am

Amazing that a techie doesn't know enough about cars to do preventive maintenance. BTW neither an app or a computer program will not fix your car.


Posted by registered user, Angela Hey, a resident of Mountain View Voice Blogger
on Nov 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

Alison - thank you for writing about the Automotive Open Source Meetup group - the revolution in car technology is akin to when computer manufacturers moved from using proprietary components to using off-the-shelf parts. I hope to check out the Meetup.

@Mechanic - yes I should have heeded the warning lights! My preventative maintenance did involve looking under the hood and wrapping some insulating tape round wires. I actually had the car serviced and checked out in April and the garage said "unable to duplicate problem at this time". With an older car - sometimes one just hopes it will keep going!


Posted by registered user, Angela Hey, a resident of Mountain View Voice Blogger
on Nov 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

In case anyone is wondering whether Your Mechanic is registered with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (known as BAR - Web Link) - an issue brought to my attention by a prominent Mountain View auto repair and service facility owner - it is registered under the name RepairJoy Inc.and has been licensed by the state for 15 months. (See link Web Link )


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Automotive work is regarded as undesireable by the City of Mountain View, being mainly banished to the auto repair ghetto on Old Middlefield. What exactly is the city position on mobile auto repair, which will inevitably be occuring on city streets? How will it be regulated for environmental compliance? Or is it just repair SHOPS that need supervision?


Posted by registered user, Angela Hey, a resident of Mountain View Voice Blogger
on Nov 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm

@Steve - I can't answer for the town, but YourMechanic.com told me when I interviewed them that they do work in driveways and that they comply with environmental regulations for oil disposal, etc. by using tarps and putting fluids in approved containers.

For those who want a link to YourMechanic.com - it's Web Link


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

" Automotive work is regarded as undesireable by the City of Mountain View, being mainly banished to the auto repair ghetto on Old Middlefield. What exactly is the city position on mobile auto repair, which will inevitably be occuring on city streets? How will it be regulated for environmental compliance? Or is it just repair SHOPS that need supervision? "

I take offense to the words " AUTO REPAIR GHETTO on Old Middlefield.

It's odd that the MV VOICE would censor me at the drop of a hat and not others for the same type of words.

You might want to know that one of the shops on Old Middlefield actually has several race cars that compete all over the country. Their prices are reasonable and they have quite a few lifts available for work under cars. They ALSO have to comply with MANY OTHER government regulations as well. They stay in business because they are good in what they do and guarantee their work. They have done so for many years.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

'Ghetto' isn't a dirty word, merely a part of town for those 'socially out of favor'. And I'm not the one implying auto repair is undesirable, that is Mountain View City policy, essentially banishing it to Old Middlefield and parts of El Camino. I AM intimately acquainted with the businesses there, as well as the staggering amount of regulation involved, which was the direction of my original comment. Saying your business will meet all environmental requirements is quite different than suffering through the permit and inspection process that a real business must endure.
And I, too find my comments deleted frequently. It used to irritate me, but lately I take it as a victory.


Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

The term automotive work, is banned in many of the new and old Town house condo and apt complexes in mtn view.