Chicago tech has always had a soft spot for cars (looking at you, Cars.com). This week in particular, startups were racing to compete in the increasingly popular intersection of tech-enabled services and the auto industry. Without further ado, here are four hot new startups every Chicago autophile needs to know about.
This week, Chicago tech A-listers Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky unveiled Drivin, the duo’s newest startup adventure in the city. Drivin has already raised $10 million in venture capital and is captained by former Cars.com CTO Kayne Grau. The idea behind Drivin is to help used car dealers find and buy cars more profitably.
Keywell and Lefkofsky previously launched names like Echo Global Logistics, InnerWorkings, Mediaocean, and Groupon, all of which primarily utilize the internet, data, and sheer human capital to rehabilitate verticals that—up until that point—were fairly technophobic.
ParqEx, the Airbnb for privately-owned parking spaces, rolled into Chicago’s nascent sharing economy scene as a new way for Chicagoans to monetize their unused parking spots. The mobile app and website allow you to list and rent your parking spot by the hour, day, week, or month. Consequently, drivers will have new parking opportunities, even in high-traffic parking areas across the city.
While other Chicago-based companies like SportHero focus on commercial parking spaces in lots or garages, ParqEx is more interested in exploring and unlocking residential parking opportunities.
Starting July 6, Chicagoans can now request low-cost maintenance and repair services for their car, with mechanics coming right to their home or office. Introducing Otobots, a virtual marketplace that helps provide customers with all of their car repair needs. It works like this: download the Otobots app or login to their website, which will help you arrange for a certified mechanic to come to your door. You’ll set the appointment time and see the fixed cost upfront, and all of the work is covered by a one-year, 12,000-mile warranty.
Otobots might find itself facing some stiff competition from Silicon Valley’s YourMechanic, a similar service who announced earlier this week that it has expanded to 25 new markets—including Chicago. With YourMechanic, customers can browse repair quotes, mechanic profiles and reviews, and schedule appointments. The company says it can save its customers up to 30%.