After securing $100,000 in investment, Autogenie, a Lahore-based start-up that provides mechanical solutions, is targeting expansion in other cities of the country.
However, after being operational for a year, the expansion is not panning out the way the start-up had originally hoped.
A year after launching full-fledged operations in Lahore, which gave it time to study market dynamics and customer requirements, the start-up is now looking to take it down a notch, scaling down to service and maintenance jobs.
While giving up repair work would be a step back, Autogenie CEO Hamza Abbas Baksh admitted that utilising third-party assets in repair jobs was a tedious task at the moment.
“We have learnt that if we did not ensure the best quality of service by utilising third party’s physical assets (for example, workshops and labour force), we would face slow growth in customers due to recurring cost issues and other such liabilities.
“Not every customer was convinced by our business-model so we are now focusing on fewer services that would result in increasing customer-base,” he added.
Autogenie is an online portal that currently offers car-maintenance services at customers’ door steps. The portal started back in February 2015 by offering car repair and maintenance service in Lahore.
However, the team has recently stepped into Islamabad and Karachi is the next destination.
“We are looking to expand in about 20 cities of the country. We will then take a break and try to raise another pool of investment, which would be to develop our physical assets. This would get us back in the much needed repair-based services section.”
The portal is slowly gaining popularity among the working class group, especially among the females, as it finishes the need to access workshops.
“There is a dire need for capable auto-mechanic workshops and mechanics nearly all over Pakistan.”
LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship Executive Director Khurram Zafar said pivots are essential and there are many start-ups that change their plans five to six times before turning into a successful model.
“There is nothing wrong in molding the business strategy, business always gets better from customer feedback - if you are delivering what the market wants then you can grow more rapidly,” Zafar added.
However Baksh said that market has taught them some valuable lessons.
“For us, retaining customers is crucial and this cannot be done by starting everything in one-go. We will gradually build our technical skills, equipment and assets based on the experience we are gaining,” Baksh added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.
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