In just three years, Seattle-based Wrench has expanded into all 50 states, swallowed two similar startups, and raised more than $ 30 million.
The company’s app allows vehicle owners to book home visits for issues like battery and radiator replacement, oil changes, and braking work. Wrench announced this week that it had raised $ 20 million in its latest funding round, led by Vulcan Capital. Longtime investor Madrona Venture Group, as well as Tenaya Capital and Marubeni Corp., also participated.
“There are a ton of really exciting technological advancements underway in the auto industry, particularly in the way people buy cars,” said Ed Peterson, CEO and co-founder of Wrench. And yet, he added, “the way people take care of their cars really hasn’t changed.”
The funding will stimulate the growth of a business that has grown at a rapid pace. Since its founding in Seattle in 2015, Wrench has infiltrated major cities from Phoenix to Miami, and plans to expand into Canada after acquiring Fiix and its 80,000 customers last month.
“Wrench’s technology-based mobile mechanic service saves customers time and money, resulting in high customer satisfaction and lifetime value,” said Stuart Nagae, Chief Capital Officer -risk at Vulcan Capital, in a press release.
A 2017 study by Cox Automotive Group found that 60% of car purchases are made online and 56% of car purchases online via a smartphone. Businesses take note. Joydrive, another Seattle-based startup that allows customers to buy, lease and sell used cars online, has expanded to 14 cities. Bellevue-based 321 Ignition helps dealers get in on the action by creating comprehensive, mobile-friendly websites for customers to browse models and financing options before reaching out to dealers for a quote. road test. Carvana, Shift and Vroom operate in similar markets.
But Wrench is one of the few auto repair services to take advantage of online models.
Nick Gorton, vice president of product innovation at Edmunds, an online automotive retailer and industry resource, said digital retailing in the automotive industry “got off to a serious start over the past 24 months. Customers, he says, “want to make a deal online. They don’t want the old trading experience. “
That’s why startups that deal with cars, including Wrench, offer quotes online instead of forcing customers to pick up the phone or go to a dealership or body shop. And most deliver their products or services right to the door.
“You see a growing culture of convenience,” Peterson said. “Uber at the push of a button. Movies on demand.
Wrench says its service saves customers up to 30% on maintenance compared to dealer services, and an average of three hours of travel and waiting time by making the diagnostic process easier. Instead of asking customers to use their car’s on-board diagnostic system to troubleshoot the car’s myriad of subsystems, or going to a dealership or repair shop, Wrench uses conversational artificial intelligence to ask users questions about their cars long before a mechanic arrives. , using a master list of information from the on-board diagnostic system.
“On of our goals was to diagnose a car without ever seeing it, ”said Peterson. “How do you use technology to be able to refine these answers to the questions to be answered?” “
Of Wrench’s 270 employees, around 100 are National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certified mechanics scattered across the country who have collectively worked on around 10,000 vehicles. About 60 employees and 15 mechanics operate in Seattle. Peterson said the company chose not to contract with mechanics, believing that full-time employees would improve its service.
“I can walk your dog or drive a car. I can’t fix your car, ”Peterson said. “Mechanics are skilled technicians… you have to support them properly. “