I’m super thrilled to start 2018 with the candid story of Automovill, a multi-brand car repair and servicing startup in Bangalore, India. I happened to meet the founder over a coffee meetup and figured out that his startup is doing a tremendously good job and that too very silently so far.
Since I have worked previously for an automobile startup, I could quickly connect with the product offering and its smart solution. After about 10 minutes of conversation, I realized that I had to tell his story to the world and so I prepared few strategic questions that could picture the startup’s inception, the product, the solution, and the difference.
This story is to connect with the fellow entrepreneurs who are and have been in the same shoes before, potential investors who would like to back up Automovill’s smart move and car owners who would like to spend wisely on their next car service.
Founded in 2015 by Mridu Das and Chinmay Baruah, Automovill’s connecting dots solve a very genuine and a need-based problem of authentic multi-brand car repair and servicing.
Mridu and Chinmay (the childhood friends) bring with them 21 years of work experience collectively. Coming from Guwahati and spending 12 years in IT industry in Bangalore, Mridu identified a missing chord while he was trying to get his car serviced at one of the authorized service centres. He realized that even with such advancement in the automobile sector, the car servicing process needs to be more streamlined.
Seeing this as a pain point, and being an automobile enthusiast, Mridu went around to dig deeper and spent about 6 months at different garages to understand how different vendors service multi-branded cars.
His 6 months market research brought Automovill existence once Chinmay moved from the US to join Mridu in this vision. While many of the other car servicing startups were cropping at the same time, Mridu was still spending his time in local garages and authorized service centres building an entire checklist of the existing gaps.
According to the founders, few of the remarkable gaps that needed immediate attention for the car owners:
- Quality service. Most of the local garages have skilled labours but they don’t have a proper monitoring process that makes these garages compromise on the quality.
- Pricing transparency. Most people are not aware of the exact price of repairing or replacing a part or denting & painting.
- Knowledge transmission. People are generally not aware about what happens once their car goes for service. Sometimes, they are told to replace the parts instead of repairing and this knowledge gap amounts a heavy bill to them.
- Car Insurance. Most of the times people ignore and end up paying a lot while they could save on insurance.
- Time spent on the entire service. Once a car gets stuck, the owner has to figure out his free time. While other workshops promise a free pickup and delivery, quite often the appointment process is not well executed.
- Cars to Service centre ratio. With time, the number of cars is increasing but the number of authorized centres is still the same.
Post identifying these problems, Mridu and Chinmay started with a bootstrap budget of INR 25 lakhs and aggregated different vendors. Since they had made a checklist to connect the missing chords, they started spending a complete 60 minutes at all the garages to build the customer relationship, to educate customers about the exact car problem (whether the car needed a part replacement or if the issue could be solved by repairing), to monitor car services and to train the vendors to match up to customers’ expectations.
This definitely took a considerable time at their end but this ensured the quality at Automovill by raising the vendors’ standard and also ensured the correct knowledge transmission to the customers.
How Automovill works?
- You can book the service online or call their helpline number.
- Automovill’s representatives will call you and pick up your vehicle from your place at your convenient time.
- You’ll receive constant updates on your car’s progress.
- You can pay online after you’re satisfied with their service.
The differentiating factors for Automovill include educating customers about their own car, the issues, and the exact solutions, maintaining utmost transparency and providing a streamlined quality car servicing.
Unlike other startups, even during its bootstrapping phase, with a minimal digital presence and offline word-of-mouth, Automovill has expanded across 5 cities including Bangalore, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Noida, and Guwahati. They started by proving a valid customer traction, building a customer network and a viable business model before taking any external funds. Recently, they have received a grant of INR 50 Lakhs from NRL — Numaligarh Refinery Limited (A BPCL company) and a VC funding of INR 1.8 Cr from NVCL ( Nedfi ventures company limited). The funding call was inbound for them, and although the entire funding process took a considerable time on the due diligence side, they are finally good to go for next 18 months.
With the funding on their plate, they are looking to:
- expand their operations team by setting up training centres in Guwahati (training the youths and making them skilled labors and thus creating employment)
- include more developers for the product.
- increase Automovill’s digital presence.
- include more vendors in different cities.
Product Road Map
Automovill’s product road-map includes interesting multi-fold solutions:
- Customers will be able to track their vehicles on the go.
- IoT based video streaming of garage work.
- Virtual inventory to map customer’s requirement with vendor’s availability. This will enable customers to pre-book the services.
- Templatized bills for different cars which will bring down the billing time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes.
- High definition tablets to the vendors to make the entire system more robust.
Their initial customers have been so happy that they have turned to be their brand ambassadors and with word of mouth they have built the Automovill’s customer database. At present they are picking up 4–5 cars per day including B2B & B2C, and with the proposed expansion they are looking to increase their bandwidth of 15 cars per day.
By the 2018 year end, although Automovill’s dynamics will be staying lean, they are looking to have a widespread digital presence, offer discounts for the customers (as a result of strong vendors’ relationship), and build a quality personalized experience.
“Since you can not take a mechanic out of the car service, the technology intersection will help in organizing and streamlining the entire servicing process”, Mridu says.
If you wish to avail a personalized hassle-free car service experience, Automovill is the platform to opt-in. Go smarter about your own car!