Monday, October 28, 2013
Openbay Brings Online Marketplace Competition to Auto Repair...
Here we have a really cool idea. Simple and similar to other online competitive marketplaces Openbay brings the power of scale and reach to the consumer in a simple, quick, online format.
If you were a person in need of a car repair you previously would either have to call around to different places and ask what their prices were for various services, too which you likely would receive a "we can't tell unless we look at it" response, be ignored outright or spend lots of time on hold or talking with Joe-Bob who is unauthorized to speak in regards to pricing.
Openbay, currently operating in the Boston area and expanding rapidly, eliminates numerous consumer pain points and may even drive the cost of auto repair down while driving service levels up. Chances are if you physically brought your car to any garage/repair shop and had someone look at your vehicle, you didn't take the vehicle away to have it serviced somewhere else after they told yo what might be needed. These physical transactions are "sticky". This puts a large degree of pricing power in the hands of the facility rather than the consumer.
With Openbay, the consumer's power returns. The consumer enters their info and what they need to have done/looked at by a facility and facilities compete for the right to perform the service. The consumer views the "bids" placed by the facilities and decides based on cost, location, etc. as to which one to use, schedules the service and makes their payment all via this platform. Heck, you can even find someone offering onsite repairs if you wish.
So what do the facilities get? They get to view a much larger selection of work available in their area than just waiting for a random phone call or physical visit--and, if they perform their work well, can drive sales over a larger geographic area. Have a small shop that does good work? You don't need a giant advertising budget or big franchise fees to compete with the corporate conglomerates of the auto repair world. You have technicians who are great at one thing but not at another?? You can specialize in various repairs by picking and choosing what jobs you want coming in the door. Of course Openbay takes a cut (10% in this case) but....if the idea takes off...consumers could be the real winners here.
The company is backed by Google Ventures alumni and a host of other private equity/VC firms.