Backed by some big name investors, YourMechanic turns auto repair on its head by bringing mechanics to consumers
A Q&A with YourMechanic co-founder and CEO Art Agrawal. The Mountain View–based company was founded in 2011 and raised $1.8 million in Seed funding in mid-September. Its high-profile investors include Y Combinator, SV Angel, Yuri Milner, Andreessen Horowitz, Launch Capital, SoftTech VC, CrunchFund and Ashton Kutcher.
SUB: Please describe YourMechanic, and the value proposition you offer to car owners.
Agrawal: YourMechanic saves car owners time and money on their auto repair and maintenance needs. We fix their cars, conveniently, at their home or office. Using our YourMechanic.com, car owners can read trusted client reviews to find friendly, certified, independent mechanics in their communities. They can get instant pricing on their repairs and book appointments with experienced, local mechanics.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Agrawal: Out of warranty car owners who need basic car repair and maintenance.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Agrawal: Mostly local repair shops and dealerships.
SUB: What differentiates YourMechanic from the competition?
Agrawal: With YourMechanic, car owners can stay productive while a certified, insured mechanic repairs their car at their home or workplace. We enable car owners to avoid the logistical hassle of going to a repair facility. Since they are working directly with independent mechanics instead of shops and dealers, car owners can also save money. They are able to select their mechanic based on the ratings and reviews written by real customers. YourMechanic offers fixed, fair pricing, which means car owners can know exactly what their repair cost is, even before the work has started.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for YourMechanic? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Agrawal: We created YourMechanic in response to our own nightmarish experiences with traditional auto repair. It started one day with Dongyi’s car breaking down [CTO Dongyi Liao]. After asking me for help, we ended up in a repair shop, faced with a questionable $600 bill. After spending half a work week dealing with the repair issue, we wondered, “Wouldn’t it be great if the mechanic came to you?” We soon found out that mechanics have been fixing cars on-location for years.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Agrawal: A friend suggested the name YourMech to us because YourMech.com was available for $9. Later we changed it to YourMechanic.com which we bought for $940.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Agrawal: In the early days, most people thought this would not work. For the first 10 months, convincing investors was extremely hard. Every single investor we spoke to initially rejected the idea. I was living on borrowed money and only had a few weeks left till I ran out of that. Fortunately, we applied to YCombinator. Paul Graham came along and things turned around for us from there.
SUB: You just raised $1.8 million in funding. Was this your first round of outside funding? What are your plans for the funds?
Agrawal: We will use the funding to expand service across the Bay Area market.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Agrawal: Early Seed stage investors are looking for solid business ideas. If you have a product that is showing decent traction and a good team, it will feel like the money is flowing pretty freely. In general, the market seems to be doing much better than 2008.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Agrawal: We receive a transaction fee from the sale of auto parts.
SUB: What are your goals for YourMechanic over the next year or so?
Agrawal: We are focused on scaling one market at a time and mastering the logistical challenges.
YourMechanic – www.yourmechanic.com