By: CAMILLA CORNELL
Special to The Globe and Mail
Originally published on The Globe and Mail here.
Shiva Bhardwaj certainly wants a slice of the pie. As founder and CEO of Toronto-based Ansik Inc., he’s seeking to reinvent the automotive service experience.
Mr. Bhardwaj, who graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, spent summers working in his dad’s mechanic shop and came up with his first product after watching one of the technicians get hit in the head with the hood of a car while doing maintenance work.
“There was blood everywhere,” he says.
So he invented the ShockLock, a safety device for mechanics designed to keep car hoods up while they work. Mr. Bhardwaj sold out of the first 400 devices within two months, and another 2,000 units have been ordered.
“You have to understand, this is a legacy industry,” he says. “There are a lot of inefficiencies because engineers and people building technology never sit behind a desk at a service station.”
His latest solution for the industry is more hightech focused. Called PitStop, it creates a link between service stations and customers with the use of a diagnostic plug-in and a smartphone app. PitStop diagnoses car problems before they happen and allows service stations to send out maintenance notices, quotes and coupons to customers.
The units sell for $50 to dealers and service stations, and Ansik gets an extra $10 every time a customer gets referred back to the dealer. With seed funding from the Techstars startup accelerator program, Mr. Bhardwaj is now running a pilot program at four large dealerships in Michigan and has met with Ford and Magna, among others.