Chicago-based vehicle-maintenance platform CarAdvise started in 2016 and today serves nearly 475,000 car owners. After bootstrapping for the last five years with the support of its advisory board, the company recently raised an additional round of funding that included $200,000 from the IU Angel Network.
"As the company grew, we felt it was the right time to bring in outside investors in order to expand our network," said Ben Londergan, chief operating officer. "Bringing in investors with new and different backgrounds helps us move the company to the next level through more robust connections. In addition, it was valuable for us to receive external validation of the company's mission."
CarAdvise users can price maintenance and repairs, book appointments, and receive real-time updates on their vehicle's status, all at an average savings of 30 percent or more. Mechanics also have pain points relieved by the software, boosting margins by avoiding the back-and-forth phone tag that can delay repairs and detract from the consumer experience.
"Automobile maintenance is different from other transactions in that it tends to be a dynamic transaction," said Londergan, who has served in executive roles since 1998 and joined the CarAdvise team in 2019. "A customer might go in for an oil change but also need a wheel alignment or tire rotation. Our digital approval of added services and upfront pricing for those services really set us apart. And partner shops agree they will not request unnecessary work through the platform."
Through partnerships with companies like Uber, Shell, DoorDash, Instacart and others, CarAdvise is also currently helping commercial driving fleets support their owner-operators and achieve better safety.
"Each partner ends up interacting with the product differently, and we have different user interfaces for each case," Londergan said. "We believe this approach will scale up moving forward."
Holding a bachelor's degree in mathematics from IU Bloomington, Londergan was excited to connect with his peers in the IU community. Kelley School of Business graduate Jason Nierman has been with the company from an early stage and serves as an advisor on strategy and business development.
Jason Whitney, executive director of the IU Angel Network and associate vice president of IU Ventures, said Londergan and Nierman have shared their time and knowledge while working through the process leading to investment.
"They have offered to participate in on-campus programming and meet with student-led startup teams," Whitney said. "They clearly understand the holistic value of the IU entrepreneurial ecosystem and are active participants."
Londergan said interacting with the IU Angel Network was valuable.
"We were able to deal directly with a large group of potential investors, all of whom have previously invested in startups, and were coordinated exclusively by the IU Angel Network," Londergan said. "The process was streamlined and efficient."
Capital from this round of funding will primarily be used to expand the CarAdvise product development team, marketing and business development.
"We are planning on using the funds to build our team while continuing to improve our product and user experience," Londergan said. "We continue to improve our unique 21st-century experience for managing vehicle maintenance. To that end, we are adding functionality and new programs as well as many new benefits to the platform."
Whitney said CarAdvise is an excellent example of the type of startup being presented to IU Angel Network members throughout the year.
"We will continue to curate high-impact companies being run by the best and brightest IU alumni, regardless of location, and connect them to our extraordinary network of angels," he said.