May the Best Bid Win
Auto repair shops have long had a bad reputation for overcharging customers. Determined to find a solution after witnessing such practice, Jake Koelln launched CheckNGN in February. The app’s bidding system creates price transparency and connects drivers with trusted shops.
Still in its early stages, the app allows users to input a repair request by choosing from a list of basic repairs, uploading photos or describing their issue. Repair shops in CheckNGN’s network then submit bids for the request. Based on prices offered, available appointment times, location and reviews from other users, the consumer chooses which shop to go with. Users can also chat with shops through the app or by phone before making their selection and they can pay for the repair using Apple Pay or PayPal.
“We have a third-party merchant that processes the payment and instantly distributes it to the shop and CheckNGN,” says Koelln, CEO.
CheckNGN receives 10 percent of every repair completed, but eventually Koelln wants the percentage to be based on what each shop is willing to offer. He also plans to add a subscription fee for shops that want to join the network. CheckNGN is currently piloting its app in the Twin Cities with more than 200 users and 20 repair shops.
Going forward, Koelln and his team of five want to add basic services, such as oil changes and tire rotations, glass and body repairs, and potentially a roadside assistance feature. “We want to create an entire car care ecosystem,” says Koelln.
Before adding new services and features, CheckNGN is looking to raise $500,000 to continue developing its software, ramp up marketing efforts and create an Android- and web-compatible app; right now the app is only available for iPhones.
The company is raising money through MNvest to accelerate product development. It’s the first mobile tech and automotive company to raise money through MNvest, a relatively new law that allows Minnesota companies to raise capital through equity crowdfunding. “We feel we can enhance our product with every $50,000 raised,” says Koelln. “We have a lot of cool things in the pipeline.”
One such gadget is a hardware device that plugs into the car and transmits repair needs to the app. “It will help us help consumers make a better decision about what repairs are needed,” says Koelln. “Ultimately, our goal is to build and deliver a quality service app for the auto industry and expand it nationwide.”