AutoLeap: Empowering Underdogs in the Auto Aftermarket
by Chirag Chotalia, Partner, Threshold Ventures
I am excited to announce our investment in AutoLeap, a vertical SaaS platform empowering independent automotive shops to run their businesses more efficiently while delighting their customers. AutoLeap helps these shops with core workflow tasks, including invoicing, scheduling jobs and technicians, managing customer communications, and conducting digital inspections that customers can seamlessly approve.
I am incredibly bullish on platforms helping small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Growing up, I saw firsthand the joys and pains of being a small business owner. My father owned a local retail pharmacy and competed against large chains like Walgreens and CVS. These large chain giants benefited from purchasing and technology scale, whereas my father was limited by pen-and-paper ordering and labor-intensive management processes. He eventually adopted BestRX — a vertical SaaS solution that automated core workflow around filling and receiving prescriptions and billing third-party payers. This change enabled him to improve efficiency, replace his paper ledgers, and better compete with large chains, freeing him up to develop a slew of solutions to better manage customer marketing/retention, employee onboarding, payroll, and review management. Each of these solutions delivered ROI that could be measured both financially and in terms of time optimization. My father could finally make it home in time for dinner with our family instead of working late hours at the shop.
The SaaS solution workflow improvements my father experienced are now becoming available for other SMBs, allowing them to take back market share and regain control of their own time while improving customer service and driving customer loyalty. As we dug into AutoLeap, we realized automotive repair shops face similar challenges to independent pharmacists, doctors, gyms, and restaurants. However, unlike those verticals where there are dominant SaaS platforms (including BentoBox, a current Threshold portfolio company that provides digital tools to restaurants), there wasn’t a dominant player for auto repair.
Our research shows that a new generation of tech-savvy auto repair shop owners is replacing the prior generation of technology-challenged proprietors, opening up the market for a SaaS solution.
Additionally, API-driven integrations to OEMs and parts suppliers enable platforms to provide further value and be a true system of record. Business model innovations like easily embeddable finance solutions also allow these platforms to generate revenue by monetizing customer payments and offering innovative credit solutions, creating consumer lock-in.
AutoLeap is particularly exciting to us because of its stellar team. I have had the good fortune of knowing AutoLeap’s co-CEO Steve Lau for nearly a decade. Steve and his co-founder Rameez Ansari built FieldEdge into a top tier field management platform for the SMB HVAC, plumbing, and electric verticals before selling the business in 2019. AutoLeap is this dynamic duo’s latest effort to build a market-leading shop management system for the auto vertical. We are incredibly excited to work with Steve, Rameez, and the entire AutoLeap team on this next phase of their business!