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Engie wants to open up the auto-repair industry with diagnostics tech and mechanic marketplace

ICE Graveyard 26/07/2016 Steve O'Hear

Israeli startup Engie wants to crack open the auto-repair industry with a combination of hardware and software to enable you to better understand the health of your car, tied to a more transparent marketplace for local mechanics.

Specifically, the company has begun offering a diagnostics “card” — sold for just $10 a pop in Israel — that plugs into your car and via the accompanying Engie app tells you what might be wrong with your vehicle, or what repairs might be required in the near future.

It then takes that information — thus making sense of the various data points that a car’s diagnostic ‘black box’ already monitors — and connects you to the Engie after-market mechanic marketplace, which includes TripAdvisor-styled reviews and price comparisons for any work and parts required.

To help the company expand beyond Israel, where it’s already rolled out country-wide and has amassed just shy of 100,000 customers and attracted 200 mechanic shops to its platform, Engie has closed $3.5 million in seed funding.

Leading the round is equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, along with 8partners, Ton Ventures, Motus VC, Elevator Fund, Uri Levine (co-founder of Waze), and Israel’s Chief Scientist office. Noteworthy is that Levine serves as Engie’s Chairperson. Opening up in the U.K. and U.S. is planned next.

In a call, Yarden Gross, co-founder and CEO of Engie, told me the inspiration for the startup came from his own feeling of being at the mercy of mechanics and auto industry anytime something went wrong with his car.

He had no idea if he was being taken for a ride (pun intended) in terms of what he was being told needed repair or the cost of parts. Better technology and a more transparent marketplace was the answer.

Since each manufacturer or car model has different diagnostics interfaces and data points, producing a universal diagnostics card and app is non-trivial, involving a certain amount of reverse-engineering and gleaning of auto industry data. Presenting the resulting information in a consumer-friendly way is also a challenge. Engine’s tech is patent pending and Gross says the startup’s diagnostics card is even proving popular with mechanics themselves.

He also concedes there are other companies in the connected car market, such as Automatic, and Zubie, and car mechanic marketplaces including Openbay, and YourMechanic, but reckons Engie is different.

“Engie is unique in that it offers a streamlined solution for drivers, from diagnosing malfunctions, to providing information on the vehicle’s health, to aggregating real time quotes from nearby mechanics,” he says.

Elan Zivotofsky, General Partner & Head of Investments at OurCrowd, perhaps sums it up best: “Engie has found the solution to a problem that has frustrated and angered car-owners for years and is levelling the playing field between mechanics and customers. If there was ever an industry ripe for disruption it is the auto industry, and we are delighted to have lead such a successful seed investment round.”

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