When two bike enthusiasts and cousins started working in a 9-5 corporate job, they were faced with a dilemma — when and how to get their bikes serviced. There were no solutions enabling doorstep pickup or servicing, limited and overpriced authorised centres, and fake, substandard spare parts in local garages. Also, time was of the essence to these youngsters. Unable to get the bike serviced during weekdays and not wanting to waste the weekends, the duo decided to work on a solution.
This is what led Shashank Dubey and Vedic Choubey and Choubey’s former college roommate Abhinav Shrivastava to work on their own startup in 2016, Hoopy.
While the USA leads the automotive repair and maintenance sector, followed closely by China, India is among the most noteworthy markets along with Australia and South Korea. In 2019, the global market size for these services stood at more than $697 Bn and estimated to reach over $902 Bn by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 3.7% during 2021-2026.
Aiming to disrupt the sector in India with its solutions, Hoopy currently focuses on the two-wheeler segment and is helping its clients maintain complete ownership of their vehicle’s maintenance lifecycle.
“Our focus is not just on bringing quality and trustworthy services to customers at their doorstep but also empowering the skilled labourers in the unorganised sector with better technology, hygiene and culture,” said Dubey.
Hoopy offers services such as annual and periodic maintenance plans and minor repairs. It also allows the customer to both pre-book slots or avail on-demand services whenever required. “To date, we have worked with more than 15 institutional clients and completed more than 1 Lakh jobs,” added Dubey.
To ensure consistent quality, the startup keeps a strict watch on spare parts received from the vendors and undertakes regular checks to ensure they are genuine, a feature often overlooked by the local garages, added Dubey. Also, Hoopy interviews mechanics, segments them on the basis of their skill sets and provides constant training. Along with that, it leverages the help of online portals of skill development centres, to train them on the latest techniques and hacks.
Additionally, the startup claims to provide the most competitive price point in the market without the convenience fee of providing doorstep service. According to the company, before Covid Hoopy was clocking INR 3 Cr ARR with a mix of B2B and B2C revenue. After Unlock, with a strong focus on B2C Hoopy has reached its pre covid numbers in the direct consumer segment.
How Hoopy Tweaked Its Model For Growth And Survival During Covid
“Indian automotive market has been one of the most neglected and tech deprived segments. Our major competition is with the inertia of the fragmented, unorganised part of this industry which holds 70% of the market share,” Hoopy cofounder, Shashank Dubey told Inc42.
ETAuto’s research states that in 2019 automotive startups globally attracted $354 Bn, led by US startups with $16.5 Bn and followed by China with $10 Bn investments. Singapore and India, were the next two biggest destinations attracting investments of $2.5 Bn and $1.7 respectively.
There is definitely an interest in the Indian market toward online automobile repair and maintenance service. Hoopy raised an undisclosed amount of funding by Venture Farmer and Lead Angels Network in November 2019.
While the pandemic was an extremely hard phase for the startup, it was able to survive and grow through its partnerships and contributions made by its customers and clients. “During the lockdown when servicing jobs dropped to a zero, our loyal customers came forward and generously donated for the mechanics who were stranded, away from home without work. This donation helped in sustaining the families of our mechanics,” Dubey recalled.
To ensure survival, Hoopy had to lay off and pay cuts. However, this has also helped the startup grow immensely in this phase, said Dubey.
During this time, Hoopy launched its ‘Roadside Assistance Service’ programme in Bengaluru. The programme ensured its mechanics reached to the aid of stranded customers within 30 mins of the complaint being raised. Initiatives such as these have been very well received by its customers and clients alike, Dubey said.
While the automobile industry suffered massive losses and hit during the pandemic, Hoopy was able to survive due to the quick pivot and expansion of its services. While earlier it would only cater to direct customers, amid the pandemic, the startup tied up with many B2C brands like FreshWorld and Royal Fresh to help them counter the needs of delivery executives.
“With our partnerships with other brands, we have today worked with over 15 fleet owners till date. The average ticket size for us from our B2C customers has been over INR 1K.” said Dubey.
Additionally, it is providing maintenance services to more than 35K two-wheelers with its full-time mechanic partners. The biggest challenge for the startup in this journey, Dubey says, has been the lack of awareness among customers about online automobile services and repair. But there is a silver lining with the pandemic as people are opening up to online services increasingly now.
Optimistic About The Future: Hoopy’s Expansion Plans
While currently, the startup is only providing services for bikes, Hoopy has its eyes on the premium sports bike segment and building capabilities and solutions for the same. Additionally, it is planning to include more tech advancements to its solutions.
“We have been collecting a lot of multibrand data with our inception, which is nothing short of a gold mine. Predictive maintenance is the next big thing in our domain and BS6 norms are propelling the Indian automotive market towards this goal. We are aiming to capitalise on this soon,” said Dubey.
Amongst the partnerships during the pandemic, the most prominent one for Hoopy was the one with Shell Lubricants. With the aim of creating a steady source of income for the mechanics, both Shell and Hoopy are focussing on training as well as equipping over 5K mechanics to be prepared and ready for the adversities and changes in the market due to the pandemic.
“With our partnership with Shell, we are aiming to create a community of empowered, self-sustained mechanics equipped with the latest knowledge and workings of tech solutions from experts in the automotive industry. The goal is to help the mechanics earn at least 30-40% more than what they would in garages,” elaborated Dubey.
Boasting that the lockdown has only helped the startup build on the technology at play in its operations, Dubey believes that the startup is ready and well equipped to scale up and expand its services. And with Shell as their partner, the startup has an aggressive plan of expanding its services to 20 cities in the next 18 months and is also aiming to raise Series A round of funding by the end of the current financial year.