India is the largest two-wheeler market globally, and hence, at any given point of time, there will be vehicles that will require repairs and service.
The vehicle service or repair segment, whether for two-wheelers or four wheelers, is also highly unorganised in our country.
Addressing this challenge is Bengaluru-headquartered on-demand vehicle repair and service startup ReadyAssist, which launched its service in 2019. The startup provides 24/7 on the spot repairs and service for both bikes and cars for all kind of problems.
In its first year of operation, the startup claims to have registered a revenue of Rs 4 crore.
Vimal Singh, co-founder and CEO, ReadyAssist, is a BITS Pilani graduate. An entrepreneur at heart, he says he was always determined towards building solutions for people’s problems.
ReadyAssist decided that it would not completely go for an aggregator model, and adopted a hybrid system to get the skilled vehicle repair personnel onto its platform. It realised that a complete aggregator model would not ensure uniformity in service while having its own mechanics is not going to be a scalable model.
“There is huge supply available, and to provide that 24/7 repair and service, we needed to ensure that there is uniformity in customer experience,” says Vimal.
To achieve this, ReadyAssist has adopted the hybrid model where the mechanics would partner with them as independent contractors to ensure they are fully engaged.
Vimal says they took many factors into consideration like competency, discipline, and infrastructure before they adopted the hybrid model. Here, the mechanics were paid fixed daily wages besides other incentives and allowances.
“This system allowed the mechanics to get a steady income, and in the process, it also ensured that they are more loyal and reliable towards ReadyAssist,” says Vimal.
The company was registered in December 2018, and launched its service in January 2019. In the first month, ReadyAssist onboarded around 20 mechanics onto its platform, and in the next 12 months, it had 650 people doing about 2,000 jobs a day.
Currently, ReadyAssist is present in eight cities, with Bengaluru having its largest customer base, followed by Hyderabad. It has also expanded to other non-metros in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh like Shivamogga, Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad, Manipal, and Vijayawada.
The startup currently provides its service to both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) segments. However, B2B accounts for 85 percent of its business, with bike sharing platforms like Bounce and Vogo being its prominent clients.
Creating job opportunities
The key aspect in the vehicle service or repair business is to have the competent resources at your disposal. “We need to train, groom, and teach them about how to use technology,” says Vimal.
ReadyAssist initially onboarded around 50-60 mechanics, but later started taking in certified mechanics from the OEMs. It also created its own academy – Mecademy - where it went to smaller districts where there were engineering graduates and diploma holders without jobs and trained them.
“The initial number of mechanics were not enough so we went to smaller districts. We told these graduates that we would provide them training and later deploy them on the job,” says Vimal.
The proposition to these individuals was very simple: they could be engaged with ReadyAssist till they find a new job. The startup is now holding discussions with Tata Institute of Social Science and Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC) to certify its course from Mecademy.
“We can empower these people towards employment,” says Vimal.
Providing quality service
In its endeavour of providing an on-demand service, ReadyAssist has built systems in the backend, which ensures the entire process - from the time a request is placed and the job completed - is run smoothly.
“There are many things which needs to be taken into consideration before we can send our mechanic. Firstly, we need to understand the problem, figure out the cost, and then assign the right person for the job,” says Vimal.
ReadyAssist has both on demand and subscription service-based business model. Its partnership with bike sharing companies provides it with a steady source of revenue.
ReadyAssist has raised two rounds of small fund raise, which also included investment from an angel investor.
Vimal says, ReadyAssist has broken even in every city, though it is not profitable from an overall perspective.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the future looks promising for ReadyAssist.
“There are the emergence of delivery or logistics companies and millennials who are not really owning vehicles. This will shift ownership from individual to corporate, which is good for us as we are B2B focussed,” says Vimal.
The lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic did impact ReadyAssist to a certain extent, but due to its annual maintenance contract (AMC) business model, it has managed to survive.
In this time of social distancing, ReadyAssist seems to be in an advantageous position as there is a likelihood of customers preferring vehicle service at their homes or on the spot.
The startup also plans to expand to 18-19 cities in the next 8-10 months. “The good thing is when things start moving, even our business moves,” says Vimal, and adds, “From the time we started, we have never closed.”
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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