Urgent.ly, an mobile app that allows stranded drivers to summon car-repair help, is partnering with MapQuest in a deal that aims to disrupt the $10 billion industry for roadside assistance, much as Uber has done to the taxi and car-service business.
The alliance, announced Tuesday, allows MapQuest users to use Urgent.ly to call for help to repair a flat tire, fix a dead battery or tow the vehicle.
MapQuest is an AOL property and Urgent.ly is a Dulles-based start-up founded in 2013 and run by several former AOL executives.
“MapQuest is one of the premiere mapping services in the U.S., and has more than 40 million users nationwide. Integrating with MapQuest allows Urgent.ly to scale quickly by providing our innovative, on-demand roadside-assistance service to their millions of users across the country,” said Urgent.ly chief executive Chris Spanos, who once was general manager for AOL’s local business.
The service is to work this way: After receiving vehicle information and a description of the problem from a MapQuest user, Urgent.ly hones in on the driver’s location and connects the stranded motorist to a nearby service provider. Users can track the service provider’s progress on a map, along with an estimated arrival time. The MapQuest customer pays for the service with a credit card.
MapQuest’s 44.4 million users will be able to tap a “roadside assistance” button on the MapQuest menu bar, connecting them to Urgent.ly, without going through a separate application.
Urgent.ly and its new partner said they are aiming to tap into the 200 million drivers on U.S. roads who experience 100 million roadside “events” per year. AAA, which has 53 million members, services 29 million calls for service per year.
Urgent.ly estimated there are roughly 30 million potential roadside customers who search online through a smartphone to find help, Spanos said.
“The whole thing now is, if you search on your phone and you find Joe’s Towing listed, you have no idea if he is near you, open, available, capable and how much he is going to charge,” Spanos said. “Using Urgent.ly and its upfront, flat-rate pricing, you will have an estimate on cost and answers to where and when the assistance will arrive.”
Prior to launching Urgent.ly, Spanos, 45, founded SeniorChecked, a network of pre-screened local businesses for seniors and their families. SeniorChecked was acquired in 2011 byAsurion, a company that provides insurance and services for mobile phones and other products.
Urgent.ly received $525,000 in March from Blu Venture and CIT Gap Funds, which is a venture-capital fund for Virginia-based technology companies. Urgent.ly has been live in Washington for several months, testing its service among several thousand users.
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