Yoshi raises $2.1 million to fill up your car, or wash it, anywhere

A startup that refuels your car wherever it’s parked, Yoshi Inc. has raised $2.1 million in a new round of venture funding to expand its gas delivery service into new towns, and to add different auto-related services to its menu. According to CEO and co-founder Nick Alexander, “Anything you usually need to get done at a gas station or auto shop, we want to bring to you at a price that’s competitive with what you’d get there.”

Zhen Fund led the investment in Yoshi and was joined by Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures, as well as individual investors, including Y Combinator partner Ali Rowghani. Yoshi was part of the summer 2016 batch at Y Combinator.

These days, Yoshi charges drivers $20 per month for a subscription, plus the cost of regular or premium gas, extra services like car washes or oil changes and supplies like new windshield wiper blades that they can order through its app. In partnership with Firestone, Yoshi allows customers to have their tires’ air pressure checked and refilled for free, or to buy new tires and book a tire change through the app.

The Palo Alto-based startup is operating its refueling services in Atlanta, Nashville and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It faces competition from a range of fellow funded startups and other small businesses, such as: Mobile Fuel, Filld, WeFuel and Purple. But Alexander says other apps that promise to bring the gas station to your car are not delivering the same array of services to customers.

Yoshi investor Joe Montana lauded Yoshi’s founding team, and said, “We would like to see Yoshi stay the course; they have done a fantastic job leading the space and will continue to make progress nailing down their current markets and developing a deployable playbook for future markets.”

 The startup plans to use its funding for hiring, geographic expansion and to ensure its trucks for fuel delivery are always operating to the highest level of safety, Alexander says. So far, the CEO attributes Yoshi’s growth to its referral program. Users who convince their colleagues or loved ones to join the service rack up points that they can redeem for free fuel or other supplies.

The company does not send its fuel-bearing trucks and personnel to fill up a single car in a driveway. There must be at least three Yoshi-member vehicles within the same lot to initiate its service. While it started as a direct-to-consumer app, Yoshi has also been working with large companies that want to offer refueling, car washes and other services on site as a benefit to their employees, or that operate vehicle fleets that need refueling.

Some employers subsidize memberships and defray part of the fuel costs for their people. Others simply let employees know about Yoshi’s availability, and encourage them to sign up for it. The idea is that workers are late to the office on days they need to refuel. And they’re worried and distracted about running other car-related errands, as well. Encouraging them to sign up for Yoshi’s “set it and forget it” refueling service will recoup productivity for employers.