If you’re a car owner and haven’t found a dependable mechanic to take care of service issues on your car, you’re not alone. A new startup called Openbay is looking to help car owners save money on repairs. It’s doing that through a marketplace of garages and mechanics which car owners can receive multiple bids from.
Openbay is kind of like an Airbnb for auto repair. Users enter the kind of work they need to have done, either through its website or mobile app, specify their make and model, and tell the system how soon they’d like to schedule the service for and if they’d like to drop their vehicle off, wait for it to be repaired, or perhaps even have a mechanic come to them.
The company then reaches out on the user’s behalf to local service providers in the area, who can review the request and bid on the job. Users can review competitive bids and decide which service provider they’d like to go with based on price, distance, ratings, and amenities. Once they’ve chosen someone, they can schedule an appointment and after the work is done make payments through the platform.
Consumers get more openness and transparency in pricing and service than if they just took their car to the local auto shop. And local service providers get new leads on cars that need to be serviced. And, well, Openbay takes a 10 percent fee per transaction.
Openbay, which is about 18 months old, launched a limited pilot of its marketplace in the Boston area earlier this year. Now, after that test, the company is ready to make its platform available to users all over the country.
CEO and founder Rob Infantino says the company will leverage a massive database of service providers from across the country, seeking to get them on-board and begin making bids on local jobs throughout the U.S.
Google Ventures Partner Rich Miner, who’s an investor in the company, said he was impressed by Infantino and liked what he was working on. By email, he wrote: “I like models that take existing and proven approaches that have worked in one vertical and then apply them to another. Automotive repair had many of the same attributes of other spaces – restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc.. where internet & mobile models have been disruptive and created significant value
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company currently has about 10 employees but is hiring both in engineering and sales. Investors in Openbay include Google Ventures, a16z seed, Boston Seed Capital, and Stage 1 Ventures, among others.