- October 12, 2020
If you have ever had car troubles (which, for some reason, tend to happen at the most inconvenient of times and in the most inconvenient of places), then you will understand why Mechanic On Call is a godsend.
Developed by 42-year-old single mother of two, Agnes Mutua, Mechanic on Call is an app that enables motor vehicle owners to reach a reliable mechanic, tow service or crane service anytime, anywhere, at the touch of a button on your phone. Agnes shares, with Damaris Agweyu, her motivation to create her business and the vision she has for the future.
What problem is Mechanic on Call trying to solve?
Mechanic on Call is solving two problems. The first is empowering our hard-working mechanics by giving them exposure to a new customer base and offering them flexible work schedules.
The second is giving an immediate solution to drivers who experience mechanical problems on the road. If, for instance, children have gone on a school trip from Mombasa to Meru and the school bus has a mechanical issue, there would be some level of panic. The children can’t be expected to sit and wait patiently for their driver to get in touch with the school’s regular mechanic to travel the distance. In a case like this, Mechanic on Call comes in very handy.
Why do you believe you are the person to solve these problems?
I have been in the transport industry for over 18 years, where I managed long transit trucks and trailers for companies in Mombasa with haulage services to Malawi, Congo, and Zambia. I learnt to appreciate the problems that both the driver (vehicle user) and mechanics experience on the road.
Drivers would, for instance, be stuck in Malaba and call to report a breakdown. It took a long time trying to understand the severity of their problem and dispatch a mechanic to their location. I realised there was a need to offer a solution in the often neglected transport industry.
How exactly does the app work for a user?
Once you log in as a driver, the app finds your location and gives you options to select the services you need- it caters for all type of vehicles, including large commercial vehicles and personal cars. The extension search tells you how far the services are and how long you have to wait before they arrive; you can extend the search range to a distance of up to 100km.
The intention is to be different because people on the road don’t trust mechanics, and they suspect they could be criminals; our goal is to build trust amongst all players.
How do you vet the service providers on your platform?
Once a mechanic or tow service provider makes the application to get onto the platform, I get a notification on the system. We then meet them for an interview and inspect their physical work station for accreditation before including them on our database. We also have a security testing tool to eliminate unknown users and reduce risks. To date, we have 83 qualified service providers on the platform.
What factors would you say have led to your success thus far?
Putting God first, perseverance, and lots of consultations with people that I have worked with over the years.
What has been the biggest challenge in growing your company?
The first is cash flow. When you are starting a project, you may not have a clear idea of what the resources you will need to pull it off successfully, but once you do, you realise the journey was worth your while.
Also, being a lady in a male-dominated industry has its challenges. Many people do not trust your abilities and are not sure how to react to your invention- until they see it working.
What big lessons have you’ve learnt this year?
Patience. This year brought so many things to a standstill; it’s like the world just stopped. But it has taught me to always prepare for the unknown. It has also taught me that the best time to do something is now.
What is your vision for the future?
The app is a game-changer in the transport industry, and the future is bright. We started in December 2019; the growth is impressive. Both drivers and mechanics appreciate the benefits this technology offers and we now have plans of crossing our borders.
We are also in the process of incorporating crane services for 40-foot and 20-foot trailers, insurance services, and traffic police in case of an accident and ambulances. The idea is to have all solutions for roadside problems in the application.
What have you learnt about life from running your business?
We need to believe in ourselves more. If you can dream it, you can make it a reality. People will always try and talk you out of whatever it is you are trying to do, but your dream does matter and you have to focus on it.
What is your advice for anyone looking to start a business?
There is no better time than now. Make the first step, no matter how small it is. And don’t be afraid to be different, even if you find yourself alone.