An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Scot Wingo, the co-founder and CEO of Spiffy, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Spiffy – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I come from the e-commerce space (ChannelAdvisor, 2001-current) and on the side had invested in a car-wash in 2003 and built one in 2005. In 2011, I had my first Uber experience and for an e-commerce guy, the light bulb for me was: “Holy cow! We’re going to see services go digital just like we’re seeing products go digital”. If you look at GDP in the US, consumer services are about $10T and consumer goods are $5T – so twice the size. That’s a big opportunity. On top of just the massive scale of the opportunity, I believe we’re going to see this happen much much faster than e-commerce has grown because all the foundations are in place: smartphones, 4G->5G, digital payments, social networking, etc.
That was all swirling around and I was thinking about areas we could disrupt and naturally landed on the auto care space. Nobody ever woke up and said: “Wow, I’m really looking forward to getting my car taken care of today”. Existing options are 100+ years old, analog, painful, full-of-friction experiences that give us at Spiffy the opportunity to create a 10X better digital experience.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Every day is a fun new hurdle to jump over at Spiffy. One of the first ones we encountered went like this:
- We published our app and waited for customers to book services. In the physical car wash world, the bulk of the business is on weekends, so we assumed that people would want their cars washed on weekends at their homes.
- Instead, customers requested Thursdays at their office parks.
- Office parks generally do not allow on-site detailing.
It felt like ‘game over’, but we eventually figured out solutions and turned that into a positive and key differentiator for our experience.
What does the future hold for Spiffy?
We think in terms of three ‘growth drivers’ that are a good framework for thinking of our future:
- Geographies – Our goal is to be in 50 of the largest US markets in the next 2-3 years. We’re in ~20 so far.
- Services – We started with wash/detail and have added oil change, tires, and disinfection. Our goal is nothing short of complete car care.
- Lines of business – We have consumer-residential, consumer-office park, fleet, and fleet-medium heavy duty. We have some other ‘channels’ that we’re exploring, but these are the big ones we’re focused on now.
Our BHAG is to do all the above globally – every auto service, every customer, everywhere.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Durham?
I’ve been in the startup community in the Raleigh-Durham (or Triangle, which is short for Research Triangle Park) area for 25 years. The growth we’ve seen in the last 5-10 years is bigger than the previous 20; we’re on a huge growth curve.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Starting a new company and disrupting the status-quo is a grind. Every day is a little bit of failing, learning, winning, and iterating. If you focus on your customers and stay resilient, you’ll navigate to success.