(From left) Oren Handelman, Yarden Gross and Gal Aharon created Engie as a school project. (From left) Oren Handelman, Yarden Gross and Gal Aharon created Engie as a school project. (From left) Oren Handelman, Yarden Gross and Gal Aharon created Engie as a school project. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Students' idea is changing the way we get our cars fixed

Engie app diagnoses what's wrong and crowdsources quotes from local mechanics.

It's known as the dreaded "clickety-clack." Your car is making a weird noise and you're not sure what's causing it. More to the point, you don't know how much the repair is going to cost. We've all been there.

Enter Engie. The new app, created by Israeli entrepreneurs, gives you a mechanic in the palm of your hand. Using the onboard computer system in your car, the app can diagnose the problem. Then it sends out a request to local mechanics and – voila! – you receive quotes from each of them. With these real-time bids, you already know what you're going to pay even before you drop off the car.

Here's a video that shows how it works:

Co-founder Gal Aharon got the idea for the app one day in college when she saw the "Check Engine" light come on in her car. She went to the nearest mechanic, who ended up charging her $800 for the repair. "I was so angry because I had no clue what was going on," Aharon recalled. "But then I realized it's a problem that everyone faces."

So she, along with two co-founders, hatched the idea for the app. They worked on it during the Zell Entrepreneurship Program, a startup incubator for students at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel where they were attending school. Uri Levine, the Israeli founder of the popular Waze navigation app, was their mentor. "He understood that it's a huge problem, with a huge market," Aharon said about Levine. "We just had to build something."

It's not just the drivers who have flocked to the app. The mechanics, too, are enjoying its benefits as it helps bring new customers into their shops. Moreover, each mechanic is reviewed by users the same way drivers are reviewed on Uber and restaurants are reviewed on Yelp. This added layer of crowdsourcing enables drivers to feel comfortable when they choose a mechanic.

The company launched in Tel Aviv, an Israeli metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, famous for incubating startups. They expanded to other major cities throughout Israel and are now being used by nearly 100,000 drivers. A new investment round was just announced, and it's expected to help the company with their goal of entering the U.S. market.

The company says it is preparing for a global launch in the coming months, and interested users in the United States can now sign up to be a beta tester on Engie’s website so they can be one of the first adopters.

Adds Aharon: "We're definitely looking to expand to more markets and to help more drivers."

Elan Zivotofsky is the head of investments at OurCrowd, one of Engie's backers. “Engie has found the solution to a problem that has frustrated and angered car owners for years and is leveling the playing field between mechanics and customers," he told TechCrunch. "If there was ever an industry ripe for disruption, it is the auto industry."

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