Carhoot, an app aims to ease car care, importation
Njeri Maina @NjeriMaina
The car imports and car care business is riddled with problems such as unscrupulous dealers, disjointed services, fake spare parts, lack of warranties on services and parts, and gender bias, where women are likely to be charged more than a guy at the mechanic or sold unnecessary repairs among other problems.
Moses Kihumba founded Carhoot, an app, that solve these problems and offers more transparent and genuine services.
Having been a petrolhead for a long time, he was always the go-to guy if someone wanted a good mechanic or genuine spare parts. This made him want to revolutionise the car ownership experience.
“In June last year, I realised there was a big need to use innovation to solve the problems in the automotive and car care industry.
I decided to sound out the idea to my colleague, after which we did a market survey of more than 800 respondents.
We found that most people were unhappy with having to spend hours at the garage and sourcing for spare parts in a bid to get genuine ones.
Most people also pointed out the lack of transparency when it comes to pricing of services.
We developed the app between August and November, did a beta test early December and launched on December 10, last year,” Moses explains.
The app has slowly caught on mostly through word of mouth and social media referrals.
The app, available on Android and iOS helps people import and take care of their cars.
It allows users to schedule car services, and offers 24-hour roadside services and rescue such as towing services, jumpstarting your car, fuel delivery and even delivery of a new tyre and tyre change services.
There is an auto-shop section in the app where a user can purchase original spare parts complete with a warranty, thanks to a partnership between Carhoot and companies that offer this.
To access the services, all one has to do is download the app, go through the onboarding pages where they provide a valid mobile number that will be used to get back to the user to confirm and dispatch services ordered through the app, and then fill in car details.
Moses describes the user interface user friendly to the average car owner as well as to the car enthusiast.
Once registered, a user can then select the service they want, and the app will give them price estimates and service delivery time depending on where they are located.
Payment depends on the service, with car imports requiring a down payment, and other services working with payment on delivery.
They have incorporated in-app payment via Mpesa, and more options such as card payments being integrated in the second version of the app that is in development.
“The app will tell you the wait time for service. If you are in Nairobi for instance, the wait time is shorter as there are more Carhoot partner service providers as compared to further out.
We have roadside services in all major towns in the country from Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyahururu, Nyeri, Mombasa, Kisumu and of course Nairobi.
We are looking at scaling to cover all counties in time,” he adds. For those who do not have the app, they have the option of calling Carhoot directly on the 24hr service customer care line.
“We are also in the process of developing a full version web application which will allow you to access our services via a webpage without necessitating an app download,” Moses further elaborates.
Moses’s passion for tech was born about 11 years ago when he, despite his educational background in finance, joined his two computer scientists’ campus roommates in establishing a tech solutions company.
Together they would pitch to financiers and make numerous apps. His interest in tech saw him go back to school, study Information Technology and follow it up with a Masters in Information Systems.
He has a deep understanding of the tech ecosystem, from building applications to running the business side of it, something he considers important for holistic leadership.
He says his experience has helped him shape Carhoot into the app it is today. He, however, says that there is still a long way to go before the app can fully realise its vision.
“There is a big need for the services that Carhoot provides in the market. However, it is costly to scale and we are, therefore, looking for financial and business partners who can help us expand to more regions in Kenya and Africa.
The second problem is changing the old mentality of having to personally take my car to the garage for the services to be good.
We are grateful for customers who have trusted us with their cars to go and do services or repairs for them. We understand that people approach the online space with a lot of skepticism, but that is something we are working on,” he explains.
Moses believes that true innovation and tech needs to focus on human need, and should be used to make the human experience better.