When you bring your car into the repair shop, it takes an average of 20 minutes to order a standard part. If it’s a hard-to-find piece of equipment, there’s no telling how long it will take to track it down. Sometimes, you just never know when your car will be ready to hit the road again.
Pavana Jain wants to cut that process down to 30 seconds.
Jain is the co-founder of ShiftMobility, the first mobile platform connecting repair shops, distributors, and manufacturers through any device: a smart phone, tablet, or computer.
How does it work? Your mechanic places an order for a part directly with the local distributor. The distributor informs the mechanic when the part will arrive, so you know exactly when your car will be ready.
But that’s not all. The manufacturer of the part can monitor orders and know when to ship more to distributors. The breakthrough here, according to Jain, is “connecting all the dots” of the process.
“There is nothing like this existing today,” says Jain, who founded the company with her husband in 2013. “We’re the only one out there offering this kind of all-in-one platform.”
It’s such a brilliant idea that it’s hard to believe nobody has tried it before. The reason, says Jain, is that the platform is “too big and complex.”
“This is not a simple solution,” says Jain. “It’s not like a social media app that can be built in a week. We spent three years just building the program. We spent a ton of time researching and understanding the industry. That’s actually unheard of for a startup, especially here in Silicon Valley.”
The platform had to be flexible enough to include cars that are already on the market, as well as the hundreds that are released every year.
“A 2014 model is not the same as 2015 model, and it’s not the same as a 2016 model,” says Jain. “For every year, ever model, there’s about 30,000 mechanical parts in an average car.”
The platform has obvious bonuses for manufacturers and distributors, who will get parts to repair shops quicker, and for repair shops, who will be able to service more cars. But it will also be a boon for drivers. Now, mechanics will be able to monitor their cars and let them know when it’s time for an oil change or other routine maintenance.
It’s a big change for an industry where many repair shops still look up parts in printed catalogs and place orders by phone.
“This industry is ripe for change,” she says. “It’s ripe for innovation.”
Jain, who has a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from California State University Northridge, is still fairly new to the startup world. But she has 25 years of experience in tech. She spent 18 years at Oracle, overseeing several major initiatives.
“My years at Oracle were an amazing experience,” says Jain. “They prepared me extremely well for starting a business.”
Jain says that although she enjoyed the challenges of work at one of the world’s largest tech companies, it doesn’t compare to the excitement of launching a new company. She says she wasn’t at all nervous about leaving behind a steady paycheck.
“Sometimes,” she says, “I wonder why I did not strike out earlier.”
Jain says she can see the future of ShiftMobility, and things will be even more automated. When you have a rattle in your engine, your mechanic will be able to diagnose the problem even before you drive to the garage.
“By the time you reach a shop, the right part will be waiting for you, and a technician will be waiting for you,” she says. “Believe me, that is not too far away.”