Do you remember when your next car service is? Or when the last time you changed your batteries? How about when you got your tires changed? Who’s the first person you call when your car unexpectedly breaks down? Your dad? Your best friend? Well, CarBengkel, a new, intelligent mobile app on the block plans to change all that, and to serve all your motoring needs. And yes, help you save money and time in the process.
CarBengkel is a recipient of Cradle Fund’s CIP Catalyst pre-seed grant, one of two grants under the Cradle Investment Programme (CIP). The pre-seed conditional grant was worth RM150,000 and awarded to CarBengkel to develop the concept into prototypes or proof-of-concepts. If you didn’t know already, Cradle is an agency under the Ministry of Finance, and it has been allocated funds totaling RM275 million from 2003-2015.
Since its inception, Cradle has benefited over 700 Malaysian tech start-ups and the number is growing. Some homegrown successes include MyTeksi (GrabTaxi), iMoney and CatchThatBus that have grown to raise further funding independently. The agency holds the highest commercialisation rate among government grants in the country — a commendable 58%.
CarBengkel received a letter of offer from Cradle on 1 December 2014, and subsequently signed on 12 December. With a team of 20 currently including Armin Baniaz, founder and managing director of CarBengkel, the CarBengkel platform was built in two months, way ahead of schedule. It officially made its debut on 23 May 2015. The mobile app is available for Android and iOS, and BlackBerry compatibility is in the works.
With the holy month of Ramadan ongoing, it may be the perfect time to send your vehicles for inspection or servicing. This is where CarBengkel can help.
Peace of mind
The CarBengkel platform is connected to over 1,000 workshops and service centres nationwide made up of a selection of OEM workshops like Proton and Perodua. CarBengkel has also teamed up with Continental Tyres Malaysia to enable car owners to locate the nearest Continental, Dunlop or Viking workshops nationwide. An additional 1,800 workshops and service centres are currently being evaluated to be added to the network.
With CarBengkel, you can do several things. Firstly, you can search and locate the nearest workshop based on car type, via GPS. You can request for your car to be serviced or repaired from the comfort of your home or office via the car pick-up feature, or request for an appointment at the workshop without queuing. Once you’ve secured an appointment, CarBengkel will guide you to the workshop via Google Maps or Waze.
Most importantly, you can request for a quotation for services, or get an upfront cost estimate before a repair. An itemised cost breakdown will be displayed on your phone.
In the event of a car break down, you can send an SOS to the nearest workshop for rescue. Nope, don’t need to call your dad.
What’s useful is the reminder feature in the app that notifies you when you car hits a certain mileage or it is due for a service.
CarBengkel currently only accepts payment via PayPal.
How does CarBengkel make money?
The big question I forwarded to Armin was regards to its business model. The platform on the offset looks to benefit both consumers and automotive related services. For consumers, it’s peace of mind, cost-savings and convenience. For service operators, it’s better visibility and increased business leads and revenue. But what about CarBengkel?
The strategy is two-prong. Firstly, for every successful request for a service, workshops are charged RM5. In addition, CarBengkel offers dealer promos from RM20, for workshop to push promotions to consumers. Armin reiterated that they’ve done their due diligence, and assured that the CarBengkel business model is sustainable. But of course, it also means the company needs to run lean and mean, and be strategic and creative in promoting the brand.
So what’s next?
One of the key challenges that CarBengkel faces is the lack of smartphone usage and basic internet adoption amongst some workshops. As one of the steps to solve this issue, CarBengkel recently inked a partnership with the Malaysia Automobile Institute (MAI) to educate service operators on adopting technology, especially those based in rural areas. With the help of MAI, CarBengkel is looking to help mechanics with training and certification, as well as upgrading of workshop operations. In addition, MAI will be collating labour costs and recommended retail prices of car parts which will be made available via the CarBengkel app.
Through its partnership with Continental, CarBengkel plans to spread its wings to Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore in the next five years.
It’s great to see a polished, well-excecuted homegrown mobile app and service in the market. What’s important is that it solves a real problem, and not just another ‘app.’ And it’s important to note that CarBengkel is run by a team who have experience in the automotive industry. I spoke to Nazrin Hassan, group chief executive officer of Cradle, post press conference and he lamented that Cradle would not have funded CarBengkel if the team did not have automotive industry experience.
Sure, CarBengkel isn’t the first of its kind in Malaysia, with the likes of Castrol’s Carama earlier in the game. Having said that, both have similar goes — to bring positive change to the industry, much like how MyTeksi has disrupted the car transportation segment. How CarBengkel fares in the long run will highly depend on the execution of its services, expansion of its network and the overall customer experience.
I personally like what I see and look forward to giving the service a test soon.