In our latest Entrepreneur Spotlight, we sat down with Urgent.ly Founder & CEO Chris Spanos to discuss how the company is reinventing the global roadside assistance market.
Can you set the stage? What was the inspiration behind founding Urgent.ly? What problem does it solve?
Everyone on the founding team have had multiple bad experiences with roadside assistance. The legacy experience involved manual, analog processes with long wait times and very little accurate information on when help would arrive. It was essentially an over-complicated black box that had made each of us feel like a “cost” instead of a customer.
We set out to solve that problem. We were determined to make receiving roadside assistance simpler, faster, safer, and more transparent for everyone involved. From the customer on the side of the road, to our partners like Mercedes-Benz and, most importantly, the roadside assistance professionals, the core of the Urgent.ly mission is to deliver an exceptional customer experience. With the ride hailing and on-demand service revolutions picking up steam in 2012, we had the vision that you should simply be able to, with a few taps on your smartphone, get fast help from nearby tow trucks with complete, real-time visibility into where help is and when it will arrive.
We had the advantage of being able to pull together great resources including our team, technology assets and a proven roadside assistance service network. This problem exists all over the world and we’ve been fortunate to not only build great technology, platforms, and service experiences for the U.S. but to deploy our solution in Canada, Australia and the U.K.
What will you do with the capital raised in your recent Series B?
Urgent.ly will use the funds to expand the global reach of our innovative and transformative Roadside as a Service™ platform across automotive, insurance, and other transportation-related verticals.
In your experience, what is the best way to work with investors?
It’s been my experience that the best way to work with investors is to communicate with them openly and frequently, let them know what’s taking place beyond just the board meetings and to solicit their guidance and help in working through keys issues, challenges and opportunities. We work hard to make our investors a part of the team, as much as their schedule will permit, and where they think they can be most effective. It’s been of great benefit to Urgent.ly that we have so many investors who’ve jumped in to help out. I don’t think that would have taken place if we had not made proactive engagement a key priority.
In your opinion, what is the future of transportation look like? How will it evolve? Will this shape your company's strategy?
It’s our view that the intersection of Autonomous and EV will have a profound impact across every dimension of the transportation landscape, from what it means to be a car company to car ownership vs. car access and everything in between. All that said, vehicles, regardless of who is - or is not - behind the wheel or how they are powered, will continue to break down and need an on the spot fix or need to be towed to a repair facility. People and companies will continue to be interrupted by these unplanned events and will need ways to quickly get moving again.
We’ve built our strategy, focus and technology with this future in mind. The Urgent.ly platform is capable of machine-to-machine communication to facilitate an automated system-driven help request directly to our platform to dispatch the nearest available assistance. The only human necessity is the roadside professional who delivers and performs the service. We’re prepared for this future now!
What's next for Urgent.ly?
We’re going to continue to stay focused on delivering exceptional technology and service for our global partners and developing new partnerships around the globe. We’re involved in a number of exciting conversations with some of the most well known and respected brands in their related verticals. There’s a great opportunity to help each of them deliver and manage a better experience for their customers in a way that is consistent regardless of whether the service event is taking place in North America, Europe, Asia or any other market. We're in the position to be able to deliver products and services that can be counted on at their customer’s critical moment of need and their brand’s critical moment of exposure. That’s what’s powerful and unique about the Urgent.ly platform.