Zlatan Beca and Fred Yu, two area natives and Walt Whitman High School grads, have started Repair Jungle, a referral website that solicits bids from D.C.-area mechanics for those in need of car repairs.
Upon observing the explosion of internet and mobile app services for everyday tasks such as making dinner reservations or calling a taxi service, Beca and Yu said they went to family and friends for inspiration.
“The one thing that was pretty consistent,” Beca said, “was that car repair can be pretty frustrating.”
The two 35-year-olds, who met and became friends on Whitman’s JV basketball team in the mid-1990′s, have opened an office in downtown Bethesda with a team of six employees and plan to expand the service for mobile apps and into other markets nationwide.
“We spent a lot of time with these local auto repair shop owners. What’s become pretty clear is there’s a lot of good shops out there. You talk to them, a lot of these guys because they’re smaller, because they’re very local kind of struggle to get word out about their businesses,” Yu said. “For some of them, maybe investing a lot of time and money in online and internet marketing may be a little bit of a challenge.”
Repair Jungle aims to bridge that gap and also “bridge the knowledge gap” Beca said exists with a younger generation that may never have been taught how to change oil in a car or fix a flat tire.
“We see people that really don’t know about cars,” Beca said. “Everyone’s connected these days, whether it’s the car owner or the shop owner. Why not create a platform where we can connect the two.”
Beca and Yu went out and signed up a roster of local mechanics, who will submit bids for jobs requested on the website. The service is free. Beca and Yu make revenue from referral fees from the auto shops.
They hope to debut their mobile app in a few months. The app would allow customers to snap a photo of damage on their car, submit it to mechanics through Repair Jungle and with little further description, get back repair bids.
“We figured this was a really good test market for it,” Beca said. “There are so many drivers and people in D.C. are really technology and internet savvy.”