How a Car's Breakdown Led to an App Breakthrough

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We’ve all been there. We’re in a foreign place and something goes wrong with our car, and we’re stuck searching for a way to fix it before any further issue can arise—without being half extorted for our money for an emergency repair.

Well, now there’s an app for that.

GreaseMonkey Mobile, LLC is the brainchild of Stephan Walters, who got the idea about two years ago after having his taillight go out when he moved up to Washington, D.C., from Florida. He called his mom to ask where he should go to get it fixed. She recommended Midas. Walters, however, wasn’t buying it.

“I said if I go to Midas, the first thing they’ll do is look at me and see I know nothing about cars because I don’t even know what to ask for, and they may jack up the price on me. I told her again I wish there was some way I could find other auto shops in my area so I could easily compare prices, so I can get the best bang for my buck, without having to worry about getting ripped off. A light bulb went off, and that’s when I kind of got the idea for GreaseMonkey,” Walters explains to The Root.

Walters describes GreaseMonkey as “an automotive app that connects drivers with small businesses within the auto-maintenance-and-repair industry.”

“The app allows users to save time and money when it boils down to it. Users on the app can see all the shops of different service types in the area. They can see all the services that they provide and all their pricing information, [as well as] any good deals and promotions that they may have going on,” the 26-year-old CEO and founder says, ticking off a variety of usages.

“Users can actually send messages and attach images or their current location for estimates and inquiries, as well as schedule appointments and actually track their appointments from the time they drop their car off till the time it’s ready for pickup,” he says.

Originally from Miami, Walters says he didn’t think that he would ever be doing what he’s doing now. He started out as a biology major at Florida State University in 2007 but somehow fell into computer science, and he has not looked back since.

“I’ve only been a software developer for three years. I’m an iOS developer full time, and I remember coming out of school, it was hard to find jobs three years ago,” Walters says.

With GreaseMonkey, Walters made a conscious effort to stick to small and medium-sized businesses, targeting those that would not necessarily have tech departments or the overhead necessary for such an undertaking, and therefore would be more likely to benefit from services like his.

“Not only can users and drivers log into the app, but also businesses can log into the app to update their information as well as communicate with potential and current customers. We kind of wanted to allow them to access a set of features that not even some of the big names have,” he says.  

Currently, the app, which is available on iOS only, is up and functioning for just about 100 locations in D.C. and Atlanta. Still in its growing phase, the last system check a few weeks ago showed it had a little over 500 users, with a little over 300 of those being active users.

On Tuesday the guys from GreaseMonkey, Walters, Chief Technology Officer Bradly Joseph and Chief Business Officer Robert Davis attended DC TechDay, basically a huge science fair for startups to show off their products. Walters says he was encouraged by the positive response GreaseMonkey received during the exhibition, with several people coming up and saying that they wished they had known about the app months, even weeks, prior when they had had issues with their cars.

“Everyone in developed countries drives cars, and unfortunately everyone has to deal with car problems. And I’m not sure about you, but from what I know and everyone else I talk to, no one likes to deal with the hassle of car repairs. Everyone loves to save time and everyone loves to save money,” he points out.

Walters has his eye on providing that solution for everyone, with his hopes set on making GreaseMonkey a national phenomenon, perhaps even a global one, anticipating a release to the Android platform by next year.

“I’d definitely like to see [GreaseMonkey] national within like three years,” Walters says. “I do want to see GreaseMonkey evolve from a platform where you just have drivers looking for services to a platform where drivers can go whenever they have any questions or need knowledge on any car-related issues ... to make it the one-stop shop for anything auto-maintenance-and-repair related.”

This article originally appeared on The Root

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