An aggregator model for garages, the start-up sends mechanics to the customer’s doorstep to repair cars.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Kanpur and a penchant for tinkering with automobiles, Pitstop is Mihir Mohan’s third entrepreneurial venture. Pitstop, a doorstep car servicing platform backed by tech, was started after Mohan realised that car owners had very few options apart from OEM-run service stations and their subsidiaries. He then found a solution to break this closed ecosystem and open it for local players as well. The result was an aggregator model for garages to deal with major repairs and a mobile servicing system consisting of in-house mechanic teams to sort out general maintenance at the customer’s doorstep.
“After the launch of Pitstop, we found that we were able to get more business for the community of mechanics in local garages and to improve the capacity utilisation of their infrastructure. This has helped us gain their support to keep our business going. Showing genuine interest in them has gained us their trust whereas previously they were not included in the organised sector,” says Mohan, talking about the value his platform has added to the garage partners.
The Pitstop app has four interfaces – one for the customer, a second for the mechanics on ground, a third for the garage partners and the last one for the techies to provide remote support to both customers and the mechanics. All a customer has to do is to log on to the app, get an estimate by selecting an issue and then choose a time for servicing. The mobile servicing team will then arrive at the fixed time and location in a branded van and service the vehicle. Currently, the doorstep servcing fleet has 12 vehicles and Mohan plans to expand it to 250 vehicles by March 2020.
Upon inspection, if a major problem is found, the customer can fix up an appointment with the nearest Pitstop garage partner. The car will be taken there and the repair work will be carried out. Mohan says that his team has brought down servicing time to 75 minutes at the doorstep compared to an average of eight hours at an OEM service station for any given vehicle. By utilising the existing infrastructure provided by the garages, Pitstop has been able to provide the same services at one-fifth the fees charged by OEM service stations. Since its inception in 2015, the company has undertaken over 40,000 service orders. Based on the data collected from these orders, it has been able to offer better in-app experience for customers, with a refined list of frequently occuring problems and service estimates—all of which are enabled by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
At the moment, Pitstop makes a revenue of `2 crore every month. The company is funded by Blume Ventures, Goldbell Group, Anurag Srivastava, Anuj Srivastava, Ramakant Sharma, (founder, Livspace), Rahul Garg, (founder, Moglix) and Shailesh Rao. Through this combination of VC and Angel investors, Pitstop has raised $1 million in funding so far. Talking about the future of the company, Mohan says, “Currently, we schedule appointments a day ahead for servicing, but our vision is to make the servicing real time, within half an hour of scheduling at the maximum.” In order to get there, the company has to go through three main challenges—procuring spares on time for doorstep services, building tech which will carry out operations in real time without scheduling and finally, hiring workforce and training them to handle various kinds of cars and issues.
By- Srinath Srinivasan