An Interview With MeriCAR.com Founder & CEO Rakesh Sidana

Posted on Jul 12 2013 - 12:16pm by Editorial Staff

MeriCAR-Homepage

General Questions

1. Company Name: MeriCAR.com

2. Your Name: Rakesh Sidana

3. Position Title: Founder & CEO

4. City/State and Country: Gurgaon, Haryana, INDIA

5. Email Address: rakesh@mericar.com

6. Website: http://www.mericar.com

7. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mericarservice

8. Twitter: https://twitter.com/mericar

9. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/mericar.com

Interview Questions

Rakesh

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

MeriCAR.com, India’s first, is a web portal on car servicing and repair. A network of car service and repair shops. The team is helping car owners to find the right car workshop based on Customers Reviews and Industry Standards.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Launched in Aug. 2008, MeriCAR.com has booked over 12000 cars and 40 exclusive car workshops in New Delhi and NCR. The company has recently opened office in Mumbai and scaling through automotive corporate like Mahindra First Choice Services multi brand workshops and Bosch Car Service Centres in other cities.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

The business model is to help car garages to build their business and earning from charges per lead. The model has evolved to monthly billing for “Exclusive Car Workshops”.

MeriCAR.com sells memberships online which includes free and discount services. Memberships are customer acquisition program for repeat customers and helping them to provide Comfort, Choice and Huge SAVING on car servicing bills. The company runs “Employee Benefit Program” for Corporate Professionals.

Car Owners book car servicing online and a dedicated call center team confirms and arrange their bookings at nearest car workshop. Customer can pay online for car servicing. Pick and Drop facility is provided for professionals who pay online and are busy in the office.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

Late 2008, i thought of an idea building dot-com company for automotive aftermarket and understand the core problems for after-sales-market. That time when people have access to google to explore new vehicles online, but nobody used to explore car servicing and internet traffic for cars were growing. I had a team of programmer and designers working for my other outsourcing international business. We build a small website. I started exploring this market by visiting OEM Dealers and found they are occupied and could not see building any value for them. In 2009, few small car garages had shown interest and wanted to see how we can generate leads from the web. I used Google adwords program to generate some leads and made car garages impressed from the result. Then the journey of exploring more opportunities had begun.

Initially we received only few customers online and bulk sms and email newsletter worked for us. I started with a small team of 2 guys, a sales executive and customer care lady. We had 55 registered car workshops members from New Delhi/NCR at the end of 2010.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

MeriCAR.com is the only web portal for car servicing and repair. MeriCAR has 30,000 registered customers in New Delhi/NCR and provides search for 3000 workshops in India. Loyalty Benefit Program is a unique service. After one year running of this program, we have renewals from satisfied end users. Online videos of car owner members are available to know their good experiences. We take care of everybody’s car.

6. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

MeriCAR.com is unique and new concept in India. There are companies in other countries with similar business model. Starting here was tough because small car garages are not tech savvy and after-sales-market is unorganized in India. We build relationships with car garages and make them believe that we can help them to build their business.

Starting point was just to give them “leads” like any other voice based directory service, but we believe that is not only going to work for them to organize them. Consumer needs quality and helping them to find the right car workshop is very important. So, MeriCAR.com also supports car workshops to organize them by allowing automotive expert advisors to audit them and mentor garage owners to increase customer satisfaction.

7. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

Being a mediator always is not easy until there is a great value. Car Workshop business is offline model in India and car owners go directly to car workshop for car servicing and repairs. Car owners still find difficult to understand our values. MeriCAR.com is building value proposition to build value at both ends (car owners and car workshops). We provide comfort, choice and saving at consumer side and supporting car workshops with leads and other advisory support. Customers save huge amount on car servicing bills using our loyalty program.

8. Why are you going to succeed?

Huge aftermarket, focused approach to help users.

9. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

Customer who tried us once, appreciated us for prompt follow ups and genuine help. We save their repair cost by proving them discount coupons. The comfort and saving are our great values while we are giving them choice to the right car workshops nearby.

10. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where potential can partners / investors contact you at?

MeriCAR.com has raised seed fund. MeriCAR.com is self sustainable now. Our Employee Benefit Program for corporate is hot selling. We are planning to raise VC Funds soon.

11. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Don’t Give up. Things will work, but slowly 😉

You can reach me at: rakesh@mericar.com and follow me at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rakesh.sidana and Linkedinhttp://in.linkedin.com/in/rakeshsidana

 

We wish Rakesh and his team a very good luck for all his future future endeavors. 🙂

About the Author
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at I2Mag is a team of subject experts led by Karan Chopra.