Car woes – we’ve all been there, without trying or wanting to end up in need of roadside assistance. Whatever your roadside assistance horror story, I’m sure it involves the same must-haves as everyone else’s. I’m talking impending doom, end-of-the-world type bad weather, wonky cell-phone reception, already running late to now hopeless plans, and a long wait despite some preconceived notion that having Triple AAA would be a lifesaver. Mine are almost always a result of locking my own keys in my car like the responsible, well-put together adult that I am…. which the universe rewards with roughly two hours curbside to reflect and mull over the question, “Why am I like this?”
A car issue here or there is for the most part, just a fact of life. But as for the always-painstaking act of resolving said issues, it would seem there should (and could) be a better way. Cue one of DC’s most successful and exciting startups, Urgent.ly. The idea for the company stemmed from the realization that a lot of us have the same experience. Unexpected car trouble can throw a serious kink in anybody’s day, and quick remedies are almost impossible to find. While the AAA bumper sticker has brought comfort to the reckless pothole hitters and far too often fender bender folks, as well as been a badge of pride for the responsible parties of the world, perhaps in some ways, it has lost its charm?
Urgent.ly is based in the DC outskirts in Vienna, Virginia (Tyson’s Corner), and is looking to reinvent the way we get and think about roadside assistance. Inspired by the ease and availability of Uber and like applications, their about page sums up their mission, stating:
“Urgent.ly is America’s leading on-demand roadside assistance service. Designed for the on-demand economy and the connected car revolution, Urgent.ly is providing the fastest, safest and most innovative roadside assistance experience – all without a membership fee. We offer transparent service with clear, flat-rate pricing, cashless payment, and reliable help for motorists in need of a tow, tire change, fuel delivery, jump start, or lock-out service.”
The app launched into a small, selective “starter market” back in 2013 and since then the team, technology, and idea have only grown. Similar to how Uber connects riders with drivers based on needs such as number of seats, location, and price, Urgent.ly connects those in-need of roadside assistance with tow-trucks that are located nearby and best match their vehicle, problem, and needs. The company recently reported that every month they are re-directing more than 250,000 calls that would have otherwise flooded call centers.
The app itself is free, with users simply paying flat fees for various roadside assistance services. The company is continuing to expand their service areas, and also continually getting funding from others interested in the space. Most recently, they received $10 million in Series B funding on October 4th from the largest tire distributor in the U.S., American Tire Distributors, along with Verizon Ventures and Forte Ventures. They are currently “on call” across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico with over 50,000 service vehicles waiting to be connected to those in need of service. They proudly boast a 50% reduction in wait time for service across their website, which if you’ve ever been twiddling your thumbs roadside, you’ll realize is major.
You can download the Urgent.ly app in the app store, and cross your fingers that you’ll never have to use it. IF you do end up in a ditch somewhere though, at least you’ll have the chance to support a local business (this may be a stretch for silver lining, but you’ll have to take what you can get…)