Automobiles have become an integral part of our lives. Whether it be for transportation, as a means to earn an income, or simply for luxury and convenience, it has become almost impossible to imagine our lives without them. As our need for convenience evolves, so also have we seen advancements in automobile technology. Even as we spare no expense in purchasing these mechanical beauties, it is important we also give them the best care possible.
These vehicles could develop faults over time either as a result of bad roads or poor maintenance. This is the reason manufacturers urge car owners to care for these four-wheeled engines as best as possible to ensure they serve us for a long time. Unfortunately, there are very few competent automobile service companies that are capable of caring for our vehicles the way they should be cared for. One of the few outlets best suited for Indian car owners is Automovill, founded by Mridu Mahendra Das, Chinmay Baruah, and Ramana Sambu.
While Automovill has big plans for cars on Indian roads, they are currently laying the foundation to take over and be the leading car service and maintenance company in India. But how exactly do they plan to achieve this? “With transparency, quality and at an impressive rate that will provide the best service possible,” Mridu tells us. He also reveals that they plan to be responsible for the servicing of one in every ten cars on Indian roads by 2025.
It is one thing for upcoming entrepreneurs to conceive an idea that they consider marketable, and yet another to craft out a plan to turn those ideas into reality. For Mridu, the process of actualizing his ideas was not at all smooth sailing. “Automovill originated from thinking about the hassles car owners go through when they require car service. The funniest part of Automovill’s beginning is that it originated from frequent punctures in the roads when there was construction and road development in the IT heartlands of Bangalore.
“In most cases, servicing the vehicles with authorised dealers are costly, time-consuming and, sometimes, very non-transparent. In other cases, a proper service network is non-existent as well. It took us 1+ years just to conceptualise and develop the platform to make the network of workshops in Bangalore and Guwahati. During that phase, we also learnt how unorganised the sector of servicing is,” he says.
As with many other budding companies, Automovill’s main aim is to solve every cause of pain faced by car owners in taking ownership of their vehicles. Right from insurance to service, they aim to provide complete solutions for their customers. Automovill works in a hub and spoke model where the hub provides critical and major works in the vehicles. Spokes, on the other hand, are the workshops located strategically in different geographies based on competency and ease of delivery and pick up.
Sharing how exactly the business model works, Mridu says, “We are in B2B and B2C, the B2B business model works pretty much straight forward like handling any business key accounts, solutions are tailored according to the client requirement. Whereas when it comes to B2C, we give full stack experience, providing convenience to customers to book through a mobile app, website and site. All packages like car service, denting and painting etc are tailored according to market standards. Post-service, customer can pay us through cash or our app and website according to the bill generated.”
“Point of service is generally the hubs in every city, as well as the spokes which are geographically located in every corner of a city. The vehicle is picked up by Automovill driver-partners or drivers provided by the vendors. Delivery is done likewise through Automovill drivers or vendors. Vendors bill to Automovill and Automovill bills to customers. For B2B or B2B2C customers the vehicles are moved to the hubs where hub owners charge 20% of the total amount to Automovill,” he adds.
What sets Automovill apart is the quality and customer focus. The company’s USP as we can see is its Hub and Spoke model, quick turnaround time, and ability to scale to new geographies with considerably less time.
Automovill is also set to reduce the overall maintenance and claim cost for every vehicle maintained or sold. They cater for the insurance services that these vehicles might incur. Automovill has a separate column for warranty as well which allows the resellers to give a warranty for every car they sell. Its technology backend provides the analytics on vehicle service cost, usage and maintenance history for every vehicle in their care.
While several businesses are going through a rough phase because of Covid-19, however in Automovill’s case, the company has seen a massive growth of 250%! To which Mridu says, “Covid was one of the most important tests of a company’s resilience, adaptability, and ability to cope with the pressure. Automovill is perhaps one of the very few startups which have come out of this catastrophe. We have overcome this by quickly adapting to new revenue models such as sanitisation, refurbishment of used vehicles, going for new customer segments and introducing new products such as warranties. Also, we changed our model to a vendor-driven model from the earlier people-driven business model. Focused on profitability than scale and used remarketing strategies. Sanitisation is one of the activities we have started by employing labour workforce from workshops and it gave us a great brand mileage.”
As a reward for their stellar service and dedication towards ensuring owning a car in the streets of India isn’t pocket draining, the experts at Automovill have recorded some level of success that shows promise for the future. The company has recently raised $500,000 (Rs 3,71,44465 approx.) from Mumbai Angels Network and NEDFi Capital. “We will use the funds mostly for technology adoption, geographical expansion and mid-level hiring, and ramping up the infrastructure of existing partner and hub networks,” informs Mridu. They had earlier raised almost 1.2 million dollars (Rs 8,91,78530 approx.) which includes NVCL, some UK based angel investors, and one of the Fortune 500 CTO from the US.
Mrindu reveals the first notable achievements his startup has achieved that became the building blocks for the current exponential growth they currently enjoy. “Our first major achievement at Automovill would be starting Ola Work in Bangalore and then expanding to Delhi in just 5 months of starting the operation.
Still, with that wry smile and passionate eyes, he added, “I have never stayed or travelled in Delhi. However, with Automovill I started my work in Delhi which was a very strange city to us”.
For Mridu, success is not just measured by the increase in annual revenue, but how much of their main objectives they can achieve. “Automovill’s impact can also be seen in the increase of our revenue and the growth of our vendors. Also, our ability to expand to new cities and employ as many people as we can is a major plus for us. We also want to greatly inspire young entrepreneurs in Northeast India,” he says.
In the coming years, the goal for Mrindu is to establish Automovill in every city in the country and be the frontrunner in the Indian automobile service.
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