Vehicle ownership in Nigeria is expected to reach 49 million by the end of the decade, up a third since 2018. The auto-tech industry is primed to be a large beneficiary of this growth, and one brand looking to take advantage of the boom is Mecho Autotech. Founded by friends Olusegun Owoade and Ayoola Akinkunmi in April 2021, this app provides automated car-maintenance services to businesses and individuals, a completely new concept locally.
Used vehicles make up 90% of the cars on Nigerian roads, so it makes sense for there to be a better way to monitor their maintenance. The idea for Mecho Autotech came to Olusegun when he was working as chief risk officer at Kobo360, a supply-chain technology company that offers integrated logistics solutions and truck brokerage services. Olusegun noticed that almost all the incidents reported were due to mechanical breakdowns.
‘For instance, a truck that has been contracted to move from point A to point B breaks down after a few kilometers. When this happens, you'd expect the truck to be fixed within a few days, but it takes weeks,’ Olusegun says. ‘This means bringing in a new truck, even though you've already prepaid the other guy.’
From problem to solution
Olusegun started looking into the causes of delayed repairs and found a few main issues. One was the vehicle maintenance culture in Nigeria – trucks and cars were often not serviced regularly, if at all, which contributed to regular breakdowns. He also found that mechanics rarely had a comprehensive history or understanding of the vehicles and their issues, and would spend an unnecessarily long time figuring out how to fix them.
His solution was a tech-enabled platform with a robust network of vetted technicians. ‘As repairs are carried out, they're logged on the platform,’ he explains, ‘so the vehicle has a history that can be seen by another technician using the app.’ Olusegun also figured that having a database of technicians classified according to their specialist areas would make it easier to find the right person for every repair. And, by adding a geolocation feature to the mix, it would become even easier to connect technicians with vetted spare-parts vendors.
Speak to the specialists
To get Mecho Autotech off the ground, Olusegun partnered with Ayoola, a mechanic friend, whose expertise he knew would be invaluable to the business. Today, Mecho Autotech operates on a subscription model, automating maintenance for Nigerian car owners with reminders and notifications about servicing and repairs. Car owners no longer have to deal with unexpected or high costs; they can bank on a prepaid payment structure that covers costs.
Since its launch, the brand has worked with top local players, from Uber's vehicle partner Moove to shared transport company Shuttlers and Olusegun's former company Kobo360. In February 2022, Mecho Autotech, which is backed by US-based tech incubator Y Combinator, raised more than $2 million in funding. Now the brand intends to consolidate its place as a platform changing the way cars are cared for across Africa.