Stuck on a dusty road miles from the nearest town because the car’s got a flat-tire? Usually that means whipping out the AAA membership card and calling for a tow truck, but one company, Urgent.ly, is trying to make that easier by using GPS technology and mobile features similar to Uber and Lyft to give emergency road repair a 21st century make-over.
The winners of TechCrunch’s weekly radio pitch-off on Feb. 15, Urgent.ly was founded in 2013 by Surendra Goel, Luke Kathol, and Chris Spanos, the former general manager of car repair site Repair.com, as an Uber for when the car breaks down. The app pinpoints the distressed consumer’s location using GPS and calls a tow truck to come by on the app. Like Uber, it gives an estimate as to how far away the tow truck is, as well as a price quote for the cost of a 15-mile tow (about $99) or a jump (about $50). For parents or significant others concerned that their loved ones are stranded somewhere, there is a feature that allows them to send for help if the stranded driver can’t do it on their own.
Unlike AAA though, Urgent.ly doesn’t require a yearly membership fee, which according to the company, saves customers money on a service they might not need enough to justify the costs.
“We have no annual membership fees unlike AAA or other auto clubs that require their customers to pre-pay for something they may not use,” he said. “Before clicking for service, users are told in advance the total fee they will pay by credit card, such as $99 or less for a 15-mile tow. We save customers from wasting money on paying for services they don’t use,” said Spanos.
Urgent.ly has already raised $1.8 million in financing with a $525,000 seed last March from Blu Ventures and CIT GAP Funds.