About the Company
Ravdeep: Please give us a brief introduction about Garage Plug?
Shubhra: Garage Plug is the fastest-growing automotive technology company founded and operated by Automotive and Technology experts with more than 60 years of automotive domain experience in developing highly efficient and scalable software systems and platforms.
Ravdeep: From how many years the Garage Plug has been into business? And what’s the total headcount?
Shubhra: Garage plug was started in mid of 2017 and by the end of 2017 we launched our MVP (Minimum Viable Product). We are a small team of around 15 people with a good mix of tech, sales, support, and marketing. We are 3 co-founders in GaragePlug. Mr. Ashish Srivastava who comes with a vast after sales experience in Toyota. His experience in the auto service industry has helped us to build the best product. Mr. Rohit Bhatnagar, who has built the foundation of the GaragePlug product, he is from a strong technology and product development background. He is a Gold Medalist from the National University of Singapore. I come from a Software execution and management background and currently heading the sales function. The rest of the team members work in tech development, sales, and customer success functions.
Ravdeep: In Terms of Revenue, what’s the turnover of Garage Plug, and is it profitable yet or when do you guys plan to Break Even?
Shubhra: GaragePlug is a SaaS-based platform for auto repair workshops and detailing centers. We are currently at the break-even level. We have grown 3X in the last one year and our plan is to grow 5x this year.
Ravdeep: What is the mission and vision of Garage Plug and how far is it spread Globally?
Shubhra: Our vision is to bring a connected ecosystem for the after-sales auto market. We are able to penetrate into the Global market in a very short span of time. Currently, we have customers in 12+ countries and we are planning to increase the geographies. However, our current focus is in the middle-east market.
Ravdeep: How does Garage Plug work for Auto Restoration/Wrapping & Accessories, Auto Spa?
Shubhra: GaragePlug is a customizable system that is suitable for any kind of repair workshop and also for auto detailing workshops. We have various big detailing centers who are using GaragePlug to improve their operational efficiency, customer experience, and business growth also.
About the Industry
Ravdeep: How do you see the Indian Auto Industry, what’s your experience to date from the Garage Plug point of view?
Shubhra: In the last one year the auto industry has grown up in terms of multi-brand service centers. Even OEMs have considered opening multi-brand service centers. It is a huge investment to open a branded dealership because it takes a long time to achieve the break-even. India is a big market when it comes to multi-brand workshops. This sector is still highly unorganized, so we have a big scope to organize it by making them use the GaragePlug platform. We have seen that whoever tries GaragePlug system, they just love it for the simple reason, it’s extremely easy to use and can automate entire operations in no time.
Ravdeep: How do you see the Indian Auto repair Industry currently, according to your experience how do you think the market is going to revive from these unprecedented times?
Shubhra: If you are talking about current times, the auto industry is impacted badly. However, we can see that now the market is reviving. We have taken many initiatives to help garage owners to survive in such situations. One example is we have launched a new platform for garages called “Save Local” where garage owners can sell gift/advance coupons to their loyal customers to get immediate cash flow. Along with this now the customer behavior is changing and keeping that in mind, we have launched a new “Touch-less Auto Service Platform” which ensures that service is done in a complete touch-less manner. If multi-brand workshops are able to implement this kind of new platform, they can attract more customers at the same time and can differentiate themselves by becoming fully digital.
Ravdeep: How well has been the adaptation of the SaaS Application in India as compared to global Service Centers, are people ready to implement such software?
Shubhra: As we were mobile-first software so we saw a good adaptation in India. To our surprise, even small workshops were comfortable using GraagePlug due to ease of use and it’s vernacularity. We found more adaptation in Global markets like middle-east as there were not many providers of such applications and also existing software was missing proper customer interfacing. Sometimes there is a challenge with extremely small service centers but for bigger workshops, the system is very easy to adopt as they get the maximum value too.
Ravdeep: Social Distancing is the most important thing because of which people would avoid using Public Transports and hence will increase in sales of Used & new Vehicles & hence an increase in the business of Service Centers, what’s your take on this?
Shubhra: Yes, obviously there will be a lot of changes that will happen. Even the price of new cars may decrease and more people will use personal vehicles than public transport and this will result in more footfall in multi-brand workshops.
Ravdeep: How will Electric Vehicles impact a business like yours and these Private Service Centers?
Shubhra: The impact will be there but it will take time at least five or six years. We haven’t planned for that as of now. With the current pandemic issue, it may take even longer to execute the electric vehicle’s plan. So, I feel that it will not have a great impact in the near future.
About the Interviewee
Ravdeep: Please tell us about your Educational & Professional journey and what exactly made you start Garage Plug?
Shubhra: I worked as a software developer at the beginning of my career for various domains and companies. For almost 12 years of my career, I was a hardcore developer. I had worked with engineering companies like ABB as a program manager in the cyber-security domain. Later on I worked with instrumentation companies as a Global Program Manager to launch new platforms in global markets. In my last career experience, I got the opportunity to work more closely with business teams and that triggered a wish to build my own business. Ashish and Rohit started GaragePlug in India and later I joined them to expand the business in Global markets. Now our major revenue comes from global markets. I am really enjoying this journey and every day I feel success by talking to our highly satisfied customers. We have now planned to penetrate into more markets and we are continuously expanding our product portfolio towards enterprise accounts.
Ravdeep: Tell us about your key highs and key lows in life?
I am a positive person and self-motivated. I have the ability to change my lows and work positively. I am always open to try new things. I was never in a sales role and now I feel this is the best thing that I can do.
There was a time when I stepped out of my developer profile and got into more management/business and leadership roles. It was a bit tough in the initial 1-2 years. But later it was all fine.
Ravdeep: Name three people who inspired you in your life?
They were always supportive. In my career, I was a keen learner from the beginning. I used to do a lot of travel; they were supportive to take those opportunities.
During my first baby, after the maternity break, I was offered to go to Germany. At that point of time, they were of great support to me. So, they are my main inspiration always.
My Husband, Ashish who is one of the co-founders of the company is also my biggest support. Without a partner who has an inline thought process and value system, it is difficult to be successful.
Ravdeep: What is your one best suggestion to your fellow Dealers on managing and getting through this tough period of COVID-19?
Shubhra: First thing, they just have to think about what they can do differently in the current situation. Look for more different opportunities around you. Of Course, the first step is to plan to survive in such a situation and keep yourself alive, then think about what you can do differently to expand. Talk to your own team, your own customers and they will give you ways to move forward.
Your Vision/ Company’s Vision
Ravdeep: What’s the company’s vision for the near future for the coming 5 Years?
Shubhra: We would like to build a connected ecosystem for the aftermarket. We have a vision to build a single platform where parts suppliers, garage owners and end customers all can be connected. GaragePlug is one step forward to achieve this. There is a long way to go.
Ravdeep: What are the major challenges you foresee taking the company to this next level?
Shubhra: We are still bootstrapped. To grow and scale fast, we would need more funds and now we are working in that direction to bring some of the strategic partners on board who can help us grow faster.3