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4 GT Students – Conquering the Check Engine Light

by Tricia Whitlock

When was the last time your check engine light came on? Did you know what it meant? FIXD is here to translate your check engine light and make your car more understandable.

The FIXD team just wrapped up Georgia Tech’s Startup Summer, a faculty-led, student-focused, 12-week intensive pilot program for student teams to launch startups based on their ideas, inventions, and prototypes. We caught up with one of FIXD’s founders, John Gattuso, to give you the full scoop on this startup driven by four talented GT students.

Year/Date Founded:
March 2014

Number of Employees:

4 – Rachel Ford, John Gattuso (in featured image), Rikin Marfatia, Kevin Miron

Funding or bootstrapped:
Funding, but we have launched a Kickstarter campaign as well

How’d You Get The Idea For It:
I have always loved cars. I was the President of a club at GT called Wreck Racing, where we build budget race cars, so I have a lot of experience with cars. One day I had a check engine light come on in my car and I thought what do people that don’t know a lot about cars do when this happens. And that is how FIXD was born.

Who are your customers and what do they get:
Our customers are driver’s of cars that were sold in America since 1996 and are off warranty, so any car from 1996-2011. They get our sensor that plugs into the car and our app.


Who are your competitors and how do you stand out:
Automatic, Dash, and Zubie are our most direct competitors. They are “driving assistants” helping you save gas by telling you when you accelerate too fast/brake too hard, etc. They each have a (not very good) diagnostics portion where in the event of a check engine light they tell you the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC, designates what is broken), but if I told you that your Camshaft Position Sensor A, Bank 1 is broken, what does that mean to you? FIXD is different because we started from peoples problems. Our customer discovery revolved around car diagnostics and the troubles people have when a check engine light comes on. This allowed us to learn exactly what the customer wanted.

We found that people wanted to know:
1) if they could drive the car home safely
2) what would happen to their car if they kept driving
3) and how much it would cost to get the problem repaired

So instead of giving you the DTC we give you the severity of the issue, the consequences of continued driving, and a repair estimate.

Revenue Model:
-Direct Sale
In the future we hope to partner with repair shops and dealers to suggest repair facilities for these broken cars for a monthly fee. As well as discovering trends from the data gathered and selling that information.

How does ATL weave into your story?
We are all Georgia Tech students, so Atlanta will always have a special place in our hearts.

How do you stay connected with your audience/customers?
We try to keep an active presence on social media and our blog.

How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
Read tech/car news every day and just talking to people.

If you could have one mulligan (do-over) in the process of launching and running this startup what would it be?
I try not to dwell on the past, what is done is done and we need to work with what we have in this moment.

What kind of mentor could you use the most right now:
Our current mentor, Mike Tinskey, is in the automotive industry with Ford, but we could use a mentor who has experience in Electrical Systems and Bluetooth.

Is there anything else you need (that money can’t buy)?
More proponents of startups in Atlanta (even though there is a great community currently)

[Photo Credit: FIXD]

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