Tuck students create mobile car-servicing company Zippity

by Alex Fredman | 4/19/17 3:00am


Zippity brings their mobile trailer to service cars on-site.

by Alex Fredman / The Dartmouth

Russ Walker Tu’17 and Ed Warren Tu’17 know a thing or two about cars, perhaps more than the average student at the Tuck School of Business.

When they first started driving as teenagers, both already knew how to change the oil and maintain their own cars. Now, as they prepare to graduate from Tuck in June, Walker and Warren have re-launched Zippity, a mobile car-servicing company, into a full-time company this March. The business provides a convenient way for Upper Valley residents to have their cars worked on while they are at work or school.

Zippity, which began as a part-time company started by Walker and Warren in September 2016, brings many of the services of an auto mechanic shop to the parking lots of major employers in the Upper Valley, including Dartmouth.

“We partner with large companies, and then they turn around and offer it as a benefit to their employees,” Walker said. He added that Zippity makes arrangements with these businesses to bring their car-servicing trailer directly on-site, and employees can sign up in 60 seconds online to have their car serviced while they work.

Walker said that the main advantage of Zippity over traditional mechanic shops is convenience, and its services are designed to be easy and straightforward for customers.

“[The process] is designed to be as non-intrusive and non-disruptive to someone’s schedule as possible,” Walker said.

On the day of their service, customers can park in their normal spots at work or school and leave their car keys in a Zippity kiosk, which is a small locker located inside their business. At the kiosk, customers sign in on a tablet and using a mapping application place a pin where their car is located.

After customers sign on, the Zippity staff receives an electronic notification, collects the car keys from the kiosk and picks up the car itself, which is taken to the service trailer. Zippity then provides whatever services the customer requested online out of a preset list, which includes oil changes and interior detailing.

When the work is complete, the Zippity staff drives the car back to its original parking spot and return the key to the kiosk. At this time, the customers receive a text message notifying them that the service is complete and that they can pick up their keys as they leave work or school.

“[Customers] just have to walk over to our kiosk, drop their keys off and their car gets done while they work,” Warren said. “It’s almost effortless for them to get their car serviced, and that’s just a game-changer.”

Warren added that the process of taking a car to a mechanic shop for service can often be time-consuming and inconvenient for customers.

“We found a way to take a mobile mindset and a technology-enabled system to reshape the entire car care experience around the customer,” Warren said.

Executive director of infrastructure and operations at Tuck Steve Lubrano Tu’87 said his personal experience as both a repeat customer and cooperating employer speaks to Zippity’s quality of service.

“I’ve used [Zippity] three times, and it’s been as good, if not better, than some of the more established locations that are off-site,” Lubrano said. “They care about their clientele.”

Lubrano added that from an employer’s viewpoint, offering this service to their employees is a benefit that allows workers to have one less personal item to stress over. As a result, they can be more focused on doing their best work, Lubrano said.

Walker said that he had first started thinking about the concept behind Zippity before he even arrived at Tuck. He said that before he and his wife began a car trip from Utah to New Hampshire, he had set an appointment to get his car serviced at a mechanic shop.

His wife, however, was reluctant to take the car in because she felt uncomfortable and “stereotyped” around mechanic shops. Walker said that this was a telling experience for him and got him thinking about how people without much knowledge of cars can be uncomfortable with the traditional way of getting their cars serviced.

“There’s lots of men and women who don’t know a lot about their car,” Walker said. “Whoever has a lack of knowledge feels they can be taken advantage of, and we wanted to make something that was very transparent, very straightforward [and] easy to use.”

Warren said that both he and Walker had independently been talking to fellow students, even before they knew each other, about creating a business focused on cars. After a mutual friend connected them, they sent out an email to Tuck students and faculty to gauge possible interest in their idea. Within 24 hours, Walker said, they had received 80 responses.

This enthusiasm prompted them to begin developing the concept that became Zippity, a process that occurred through much of 2015 and 2016, Warren said.

Walker said that in the future they plan to continue growing Zippity in the Upper Valley region and then begin expanding into the Boston area. He said this growth may include developing company-owned stores as well as franchises.

“It’s a start-up business, so they want to do a great job,” Lubrano said. “They know that the success of their business is going to largely depend on the quality of their service.”