How this rural North Carolina startup is helping car dealerships go ‘contactless’

Shyft Auto founders say they didn’t have a pandemic in mind when they originally developed a tech platform to help car dealerships go “contactless.”

Then COVID-19 hit, just as they were launching, and it became even more relevant.

“When repair shops closed their waiting areas, our contactless tool for engagement, pickup, and delivery became helpful,” its co-founder Marcus Aman told Hypepotamus. “[It] did help us acquire some early customers and adopters.”

One year on, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup, led by Aman and business partner Peter Seymour, is gaining even more traction.

It recently landed $400,000 from an institutional investor, CORI, an innovation fund that focuses on funding startups in rural areas to fuel economic growth in opportunity zones.

It also relocated headquarters from Greenville to Wilson, North Carolina, and now has a team of six full-time employees, two part-time employees and four outsourced developers.


Now it’s all about scaling.

Aman said the startup is targeting some 170,000 automotive repair shops in the United States and is focused on “small-to-medium-sized dealership groups and independent repair shop chains.”

In the wake of the pandemic, it looks like business is getting back to normal.

Dealerships and auto repair shops indicate a 62.3 percent increase in car maintenance in areas where shelter-in-place has been lifted, according to a recent survey.

“We just hired an outsourced BDR (business development representative) company that is helping us set virtual presentations,” said Aman, adding that he has special insight into the real-world problems in the automotive repair space. He spent 14 years managing a high-volume service center for one of the largest dealer groups in the nation.

“We are focused on adding as much value as possible.”

There’s also room to grow in vertical markets like marine, motorcycle, ATV, and RV.

“We’ve added tools like pictures and videos, online payments, and loaner/fleet management that can help more than just repair shops,” Aman said.

“We have a lot in our roadmap. I wouldn’t bet against us.”



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