YourMechanic: More Than the Sum of its Parts
YourMechanic, the auto repair startup sometimes called “the Uber of Car Maintenance,” is an aggressive startup whose CEO is trying to upend the auto repair business. The customer benefits are compelling: His mechanics come to you, and the price for the work is set before they visit. It’s one of those, “I must try this” businesses that I hear about from time to time.
It made me wonder: If this business is such a good idea, why aren’t there dozens of YourMechanics already (sole proprietor guys-with-vans notwithstanding)? Why does YourMechanic work today if it didn’t yesterday? I asked CEO Art Agrawal this question.
Two things, he said. First, it’s a data-intensive business, and a lot of that data has to be shared in real-time with the itinerant mechanics. It requires a communications infrastructure that couldn’t be built before everyone had a smartphone. “When we started last year, it was all manual,” Agrawal told me. “It was totally not going to work. It requires a smartphone, which makes a world of difference.”
Second, there’s the logistics of distributing parts. There are more than 27,000 car models on the road in the U.S. Nobody can stock all the needed parts; even fixed shops (except dealers) don’t try. YourMechanic is actually, at its core, a parts delivery business. Agrawal has set up relationships with parts suppliers, and the company makes its profits solely on parts sales. Mechanics keep all of the labor fees they earn (minus small payment processing and insurance expenses). Running this component of the business is an ongoing ground war; it’s a lot of work and it’s a large barrier to entry.
YourMechanic is a good idea but hardly a new one. It happens to be a very difficult business to operate at scale. Technology is required to make it work, but it’s one of those ideas that requires much more.
Another longer-than-specced column. Again, hope you don’t mind.
A $2M Deal for Mechanics on Wheels (Wired)
YourMechanic boosts $1.8 million to blow the doors off car repair (The Next Web)
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