How four friends are organising the fragmented automobile repair services market in AhmedabadAparajita Choudhury
Friends Bharat Ostwal, Sunil Gupta, Amisha Shah and Abhishek Gupta stumbled upon their idea for a startup when Amisha's car broke down in the outskirts of Ahmedabad one day.
Some research of the automobile repair services market pointed out that 60 percent fell under the unorganised segment. The tremendous gap between demand and supply and the quest to find a comprehensive solution for all the automobile glitches led the friends to launch Autoyaar.com in October 2015.
The Ahmedabad-based startup is an aggregator platform with more than 1,000 automobile service providers. It allows users to find service providers for two-wheelers, four-wheelers, and car spa in their vicinity. Service providers include names like Bosch Car Service, CarzSpa and Castrol Pitstop.
Users can pick, compare and choose from a host of service providers, based on locality and services desired. Detailed profiles of the service providers with pictures, list of services and facilities, reviews and ratings help the customer make an informed choice.”
During the initial days, the founders had to spend a considerable amount of time convincing and educatingservice providers. Bharat (31), a BTech in Mechatronics, MBA in Marketing brings six years of experience working with Azure Power. Abhishek (30) has done BTech from NIT Surat and comes with seven years of experience in Tata Motors and M&M.
Amisha (29) is a BCom and MBA in marketing. She has six years of experience working with Radio Mirchi and Vodafone. Sunil (31) is an MSc in Statistics and an MBA in Marketing and brings six years of experience working with Kalthia Group.
Most of the automobile veterans have been operating in a conventional way. Educating and convincing service providers to get listed in such platforms was a challenge as they were reluctant to adopt to digital platform. Standardisation, particularly in rates and services, was an issue too.
Developing an app
To further enhance the customers’ experience, Autoyaar will soon launch its app. The app will have features like 'Autoyaar Club,' which will help customers manage all their vehicles at one place, starting from service due dates, PUC (Pollution under Control) renewal to insurance renewal dates. The app will also allow customers to track the entire process of their vehicle service booking.
There are a host of other features that the website as well as app will have based on the key research and surveys done by our team in the market. We plan to launch our app for Android users first,” says Amisha.
The startup has catered to more than 305 customers so far. It has a pre-defined criteria and checklist for selecting the service providers, which include infrastructure, service capacity, technology, automobile experience to ensure that quality of services is maintained.
Through a simple and user-friendly interface we aim to improve customer experience through convenience and transparency.”
Currently, the 10-member team follows a commission-based model (from fees for online bookings) to generate revenues, which is around 10-15 per cent.
Currently bootstrapped, Autoyaar is in talks with a few angels investors to raise funds. In the next six months, Autoyaar will be expanding to Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, covering almost 80 per cent of the unauthorised service providers in each city. Apart from automobile services, the startup will soon add other services like roadside assistance, accessories, modifications and insurance.
"Precarious as it seems, the path is equally exciting and we believe that our small idea is all set to change the face of automobile servicing industry," says Sunil.
Market and competition
The automobile industry in India is considered the largest in the world, with an annual production of 23.37 million vehicles in FY 2014-15, and it contributes to 7.1 per cent of the country’s GDP, as revealed by India Brand Equity Foundation. The automotive aftermarket comprises manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service providers and garages which collectively spell the opportunity for automobile repair services market in India.
However, India is yet to witness any specific government body or association backing automotive maintenance and repair industry and is therefore still lacking in quality and has disparity in pricing. The authorised vehicle service centres are striving to organise this sector to an extent.
In the last couple of years, a handful of online car repair services startups like MeriCar.com, SparesHubs.com, 3M Car Care, Cross Roads, MyTVS, CarZcare, Cartisan, Bumper and helponwheels.in have emerged to crack the business model in this space. Bengaluru-based Bumper recently raised $500,000 seed funding from SAIF Partners. Cartisan has raised an undisclosed amount in its seed round from YouWeCanVentures, Global Founders Capital, TaxiForSure’s Aprameya R and others.
Autoyaar has entered into an almost untapped market that is Ahmedabad which will possibly act as a growth catalyst for this four-month-old startup. By offering services on two wheeler, four wheeler, tyre, battery and car spa, Autoyaar is trying to adjust itself in this overcrowded market. Exploring more Tier-II cities in India will help the startup gain an edge in the market.