Bengaluru-based Automovill takes the wheel, provides car owners access to hassle-free car serviceSameer Ranjan
Automovill is an aggregator of car service providers with asset-light operations. It also works as a custodian of customers’ cars, supervising the service and repair work.
At a glance
Founder: Mridu Mahendra Das and Chinmay Baruah
Year it was founded: 2015
Where is it based: Bengaluru
The problem it solves: Providing hassle-free car service
Funding raised: Secured investment commitment of Rs 1.8 crore from NVCL
Many of us have spent several hours poring over car and bike catalogues, carefully choosing from the myriad options available in the market today. But after buying the vehicle and using it, the sheen wears off when we have to find a good service centre, a stressful time, admittedly, for any automobile owner in India.
As car sales zoom in the country, so does the need for hassle-free, quality car service. Riding on this growing demand of trustworthy and smooth car services, Mridu Das and Chinmay Baruah set out on their entrepreneurial journey by launching a car service provider aggregator.
Apart from enabling owners to have their cars serviced without leaving their homes, Automovill is also trying to bring more transparency to the service and repair process by helping customers track the car service process in real time.
Mridu, co-founder and COO, Automovill, explains, “Maintenance of two- and four-wheeler vehicles is a daunting but unavoidable task. A major portion of one’s time goes into getting the work done, negotiating on the prices or ascertaining whether the right thing is done or not. The hassles involved are infinite. But what if someone takes over the task and gets it done for you? What if you do not need to go to the service station but someone takes the automobile for you and gets it through the entire process? This is the very concept on which Automovill works.”
Founded in October, 2015 by Mridu and Chinmay, who were friends from school, Automovill is giving its customers the convenience of getting their car serviced from the comfort of their homes.
The idea cropped up when Mridu bought his first car. Being a first-time car owner, Mridu realised the recurrent problem of car servicing. He experienced the apprehension that many car owners face: being cheated every time they have to get their cars serviced. This led Mridu to realise the potential solution for a recurring problem for owners. A small stint of pre-incubation in NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore also boosted the knowledge and exposure for the core team.
Mridu and Chinmay hail from Jorhat, Assam. While Mridu (COO of Automovill) completed his engineering from Jorhat Engineering College and settled in Bengaluru, Chinmay, who is Automovill’s CEO, pursued Petroleum Engineering at IIT Dhanbad, and a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering at Texas Tech University, and then settled in the US. In 2015, they came together and founded Automovill.
At the beginning, Mridu spent many hours at garages to understand how things worked, while Chinmay did the research. The firm’s current team size is now more than 20 across India.
What it does
Automovill is primarily an aggregator of car service providers with asset-light operations. It connects the customer with the service partner and works as a custodian of customers’ cars, supervising the service and repair work.
Customers receive invoices from Automovill and make the payment online. The firm claims to be charging 30 percent lesser than authorised service centres. The revenue sharing is based on the work done on the vehicle and discounts Automovill manages to get through its vendors.
Automovill provides an online platform to customers where they can order an automobile service or they can order it through the Android app. Customers can even register a service through their phones by calling the registered numbers in every city.
After a service has been registered, an Automovill representative comes over and picks up the automobile and takes it over to the private service station that is tied up with Automovill. The firm currently has a list of reliable and registered private service stations in every part of the city it is present in.
Following that, the Automovill representative stays with the vehicle and takes photographs at every stage and sends them to the customer to keep him updated about the process.
Currently, Automovill has more than 10,000 car owners who active clients.
As the startup was founded by engineers from North East, it secured an investment commitment of Rs 1.8 crore as seed funding from NVCL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited. Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over the cheque at a felicitation ceremony in Aizawl in December 2017. Automovill had been a bootstrapped company until it secured a grant-in-aid of Rs 47.6 lakh from Numaligarh Refinery Limited, a BPCL company, also in December 2017.
The journey so far
Automovill is currently operating in five cities - Bengaluru, Guwahati, Noida, Mumbai (Navi Mumbai) and Pune, and is generating a revenue of around Rs 15 lakh per month. The plan is to establish a strong foothold in these cities and explore new territories in 2018-19. It has grown by 600 percent in 2017-18, with a revenue of around Rs 2 crore. Customers are from both B2C and B2B segments.
Mridu says, “Our main USP is the quality of service. Though quality is subjective, we can vouch for it as we have 60 percent repeat customers so far with very good testimonials. At present, we focus more on quality than numbers, as this is the key pillar of our company values.”
Automovill is aiming to build a pan-India network of car services that can serve off-warranty cars with guaranteed service quality at an affordable price, which is otherwise not possible with limited authorised service networks for established car brands. It is also building a robust technical platform with minimal human training or touchpoints that will bolster its scaling plans.