When Spiffy launched its first app in 2014, it took 35 finger taps to order a car wash from your mobile device.
Today, it takes eight.
As the mobile on-demand car wash operator announces a major expansion into Dallas this month, those numbers are significant. They represent the painstaking time and engineering required to build a technology-enabled service that can scale around the nation and eventually, the world.
The goal of Spiffy, and really any service linked to technology, is to make some aspect of life as simple as possible. And according to the startup’s serial entrepreneur CEO Scot Wingo, “If we’re trying to make your life simpler, then we should be working on that all the time.”
The constant improvements in customer and user experience, combined with expansion into new cities, is happening since Spiffy landed its first institutional capital earlier this year. Armed with $5 million from investors like Bull City Venture Partners, Idea Fund Partners and Industry Ventures, the company has streamlined the technology that powers its car washing service, while focusing on three key expansion opportunities.
RTP-based Get Spiffy, Inc. is expanding its on-demand car care service to Dallas.
Scot Wingo, CEO of Spiffy and chairman of Morrisville-based ChannelAdvisor, says for the company’s fifth location, they decided to take a different approach: presell to Class A office park property managers.
As the business has grown, Wingo and his team have learned that their on-site car wash service does best while people are busy at work. The company chooses metros for expansion that have warm climates and populations greater than 1 million. And Dallas not only meets that criteria – it also has a lot of Class A office space.
Your errands list this weekend may include a visit to the car wash to wash off the week’s dirt and leftover crumbs from an on-the-go lunch — the $10 billion car wash and auto detailing industry sees the majority of their clientele on Saturday and Sunday. But with those high-trafficked times comes the hassle of standing in lines and rushed service.
Serial entrepreneur Scot Wingo believes that most services should and will go digital, to put the customer back in control of their time versus relaying on the service provider. He’s onto something — the on-demand economy is attracting more than 22.4 million consumers and $57.6 billion in spending annually.
As CEO and co-founder of on-demand car wash Spiffy, Wingo is putting you back in control of your time (and your now-squeaky clean car) by letting you schedule a car wash on your time, at a location of your choosing. The startup recently raised a $5M Series A to expand to Los Angeles after opening flagships in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC as well as Atlanta. They also closed the acquisition of LA-based car wash app Squeegy to scale residential and commercial clientele in the area.
Spiffy, the Research Triangle Park-based brainchild of Carolina Auto Spa owner Karl Murphy and ChannelAdvisor co-founder Scot Wingo, has inked $7.5 million in financing.
A securities filing disclosed late Friday shows 13 investors participated in the equity raise.
The funder includes the $5 million the company disclosed in February, led by Bull City Venture Partners, a Durham investment company managed by Jason Caplain and David Jones, who previously backed ChannelAdvisor. Wingo says that, while the initial plan was to stop at the $5 million, interest from investors surpassed expectations, leading to the over-subscribed round.
Buzzwords come and go quickly in business, but so do the trends they describe. Big data has been replaced by smart data, which is quickly being overshadowed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Businesses have “pivoted”, created Chief Revenue Officers, and tried a variety of modern business models.
But most trends eventually fizzle out, replaced by something newer and better. What survives are the pieces that worked; the ideas and structures that have lasting value. The on-demand economy, spearheaded by companies like Uber and Airbnb, is hitting a rough patch as well, and that is good for everyone.
“Rough patch” might be a charitable way to describe the graveyard of on-demand companies that closed their doors in 2016 and the 50% cut in funding given to on-demand startups. From food service to lawn service, the “Uber of something” ideas are falling like dominos.
Taking the time out of a busy schedule to go get a car wash is usually a low item on people’s priority list.
With so many activities on a daily basis, making sure vehicles are clean can seem like a hassle. From working a full eight-hour workday to going to the gym and cleaning where you live, there’s not much time for extra things like making a trip out to the car wash. As a result, many people’s cars can sit for months and months at a time without a wash or vacuum, which can end up in a less than lovely smelling situation.
One company that’s looking to help move the ball for people in terms of getting vehicles clean is Spiffy. The startup company is looking to revolutionize the car washing industry with its on-demand service. Through the use of the company’s app, its technicians are sent out to wherever the user is to wash the car. We sat down with Spiffy’s CEO Scot Wingo to learn more about how the business was founded and where it plans to go within the next few years.
PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how Spiffy started?
SW: We have had two physical ‘old school’ car washes since 2003. I have an eCommerce background and had my first Uber experience in 2011. That was a big ‘aha’ moment for me because in eCommerce we saw ‘goods’ go digital — and to me, Uber was a watershed moment that all ‘services’ could go digital. So in 2014, we did a test by putting out a MVP (minimum viable product) and it really exceeded our expectations. From there, we have taken what we discovered and continued to learn and tweak and iterate to where we are today. We are 100 percent focused on taking all friction out of the car wash experience for our customers, and while we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go.
A 2015 study reported that the on-demand economy was attracting over 22.4 million consumers annually, generating over $57.6 billion in revenue. The largest category of on-demand spending was online marketplaces, with 16.3 million consumers spending upward of $36 billion each year. Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft followed with an estimated 7.3 million consumers spending $5.6 billion yearly.
In 2016, amidst an even higher number of consumers and revenue generated, funding for on-demand companies surprisingly dropped 35%. Despite power players like Postmates raising a staggering $141 million within the third quarter alone, there was still an increasing lack of interest amongst investors noticing the massive influx of startups flooding the growing marketplace. While the insurgence of startups can make it difficult to decipher which on-demand ideas may become unicorns, the payoff is amplified for promising companies that can prove to be both disruptive and lucrative.
Serial entrepreneur Scot Wingo has signed on as CEO of his latest startup, on-demand mobile car wash Spiffy, a move that coincides with the business raising $5 million in outside capital and expanding via an acquisition.
Wingo’s move to a full-time role at Durham-based Spiffy doesn’t mean he is leaving his previous startup, publicly traded ChannelAdvisor. Wingo remains executive chairman at ChannelAdvisor, a Morrisville company that last year generated $113 million in revenue.
Wingo, who was ChannelAdvisor’s first CEO and took the company public, said he was eager to return to “being operationally involved and solving hard problems. Spiffy has no shortage of fun, interesting problems to go solve.”
Fresh off a new $5 million funder, Research Triangle Park’s Spiffy has acquired a competitor, giving it an instant presence on the West Coast.
The fund was led by Bull City Venture Partners, a Durham, North Carolina investment company managed by Jason Caplain and David Jones. Both are longtime backers of another firm that Spiffy CEO Scot Wingo co-founded: ChannelAdvisor.
Spiffy uses an app for customers to request on-demand car wash and care services. Part of the proceeds from its latest funder went toward purchasing Squeegy, a mobile car wash company that’s based in Los Angeles.