ClickMechanic is a startup that merges the virtual world of mobile apps with the physical world of car repairs and maintenance.
Founded by Andrew Jervis (pictured) and Felix Kenton in October 2012, ClickMechanic provides an online marketplace for car repairs, allowing drivers to get quick quotes and book work from a vetted mechanic.
ClickMechanic is based in the Ugli Campus in West London, a hotbed of technology and media startups, and has used £410,000 in funding to grow from the two founders into a team of 10.
V3 put Jervis under the Startup Spotlight to hear more about the company.
Why did you choose to set up ClickMechanic?
It's well documented that the automotive repair industry is fraught with problems. A lack of transparency, poor quality labour and wasted time taking cars to garages have all led to a large amount of mistrust in the industry.
The UK repair industry has an abundance of repair data and thousands of great mobile mechanics. We saw ClickMechanic as the best way of bringing the mechanics together in one trusted network while using data to further establish trust for users on the prices they pay.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground
I moved into the tech startup space in 2010 by building up and selling an online car parts aggregator in 2012.
This gave me a strong insight into other problems in the automotive space, leading me to undertake a research Enterprise Masters at the University of Manchester, where I focused on the market dynamics of the automotive repair industry.
Following completion of my thesis, I won a place on Entrepreneur First which led me to London to co-found ClickMechanic with Felix who I met on the programme.
What technology do you use?
In order to connect the end user with our service we use a combination of mobile and desktop platforms which deliver details of local jobs directly to our registered mechanics' smartphones.
The company has also licensed millions of industry-standard manufacturer and labour times to build an instant, real-time online quoting engine - the first of its kind in Europe - empowering people to know how much they should be paying and to not get ripped off.
No other automotive repair marketplaces have this feature, as most instead offer a bid-for-jobs model.
What challenges have you encountered to date?
There have been so many challenges it's difficult to know where to begin! The biggest so far have ranged from getting a product market fit, to recruiting mechanics, to getting customers and raising investment.
The business is accelerating at an increasingly fast rate, and we're certain there are plenty more challenges around the corner.
What's been the biggest highlight of ClickMechanic?
There are lots of highlight moments every month so it's impossible to name one. Getting to the point where we are today has been a marathon of epic proportions which in essence started in 2010. Every day has its breakthroughs and with time these have accumulated into one big breakthrough!
What does your company do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
To be honest most days we're working hard on the business and pulling long hours which means after a long day it's a case of going to the gym, getting some food, and having a little bit of down time.
However, as a company we believe it's important to share experiences and successes which is why we regularly go for meals or grab some beers when we hit new landmarks, such as growth, moving to new offices or new product releases.
What did you do before starting ClickMechanic?
I was a banker and then founded a car parts aggregator website which I sold. The automotive sector is also in my family. I have a brother who is a mechanic and my father owns a car dealership.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
It's seriously exciting to be working with awesome people while building something that can affect so many lives in a very positive way.
Due to the high degree of commitment required by tackling such a big task it can mean that long hours becomes the norm. This isn't a problem, but can sometimes result in months passing by without seeing some friends and loved ones.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
Uber. It's such a beautiful and simple product that makes people's lives easier. The growth and success of the company to date speaks for itself.
Do you work remotely, in a shared environment or have your own office space?
We currently have two offices. One is our dedicated space for sales, customer experience and marketing. This often gets pretty noisy and busy with there being a lot of customer and mechanic calls.
Our engineers are next door in a quieter shared office space which gives them some peace and quiet to get their heads down and write some code.
Steve Jobs. It's a cliché but nothing else really needs to be said.
Coffee shop of choice?
Any, as long as they have green tea and a good WiFi connection
Beverage of choice?
Water and green tea in the week. Perhaps a beer at the weekend.
The local around the corner. Chilled out and serves a great pint.
Citymapper. It just makes getting around London that bit easier.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
London has a huge pool of talent, tons of great investors, a huge community of people to share best practice with, and tons of great startup events.
People in London are ambitious and many have already enjoyed a lot of success. To be around and work with these types of people is only going to encourage you to be better at what you do.
Could the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
To be quite honest the current government has done a great job in supporting tech startups with tax breaks such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Enterprise Investment Scheme.
The tech industry has also played a very proactive role in terms of helping startups with schemes such as BizSpark. However, there is always room for improvement. So, while the government is already doing a lot, it could certainly do more.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
Previous startups under the spotlight have ranged from cloud computing services firm Fedr8, to public sector website developer DXW, software sequencing specialist Sparkl, and social media monitoring firm Felicitas Media.
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