January 8, 2014
2014 is Going to Be a Breakout Year for ... Openbay

“Have you heard about Openbay?”

“Have you met Rob from Openbay yet?”

“You have to check out this new startup, it’s called Openbay”

This seems to be what we’ve been hearing A LOT lately. 

Openbay is a car care startup founded by Rob Infantino that makes the murky world of car maintenance a whole lot easier to navigate. The company's platform, which allows users to scan the area and search for the best deals for car care service, is one of those marketplace apps that seems like such an obvious problem, it is almost shocking no one has tried to attack the sector before.

Infantino came up with the idea after experiencing something very commonplace, sticker shock at a car dealership's repair costs.

"The genesis for the company started out of some frustration that I had with a dealership here in Boston," Infantino said. "I brought my car in for a simple wheel alignment, and I ended up sitting in the waiting room with this ten to twelve page document and a bill of around $4,000 for the car. I told them they were crazy."

"I went home and looked on the web for an alternative, I wanted to see if I could submit my service to multiple shops and get a response. That's when I realized there was nothing like that on the web; basically, I'd have to call every shop around, talk about my service, get the costs, make and appointment, etc."

"That was the 'Ah Ha' moment for me," Infantino said. "A service like this needs to be created and built."

So Infantino followed some Lean Startup methodology. He connected with both consumers and service providers to see what their pain points were to see how he could build something that could help both parties.

"I got great responses, which helped me move forward building a web-based service," he said.

Openbay went through a long trial/beta period before officially launching in October. 

As Infantino said, the launch "exceeded our expectations across the board."

Since the day of launch, they have been rapidly expanding the number of customers and providers they work with. As far as Infantino knows, they are in over forty states right now, "maybe even fifty," he told me. When they launched, they weren't sure how long it would take to make an impact outside of Massachusetts.

The company is growing at a light-speed pace. 

Based out of Intrepid Labs, Openbay got some help building the mobile app from Mark Kasdorf's Intrepid Pursuits. 

So why all the buzz around Openbay?

For one, the are the only Boston startup from Boston to get funding from both Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Second, from what I hear, they are one of the rare companies that VC's and angels are hunting down and trying to get a piece of, and not vice versa.

Everyone I speak to, in all corners of the Boston tech ecosystem, have nothing but great things to say about Openbay. As the year unfolds, it wouldn't be shocking if Openbay is one of the companies that tops the list of biggest movers and shakers next December. 

Dennis Keohane is the Senior Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.