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Garage comparison site Whocanfixmyfar.com has secured £4 million from investors including Shell Ventures, Sir Trevor Chinn, Active Partners and Venrex Investment Management.

The site was launched in 2011 by two former investment bankers, Al Preston and Ian Griffiths, and has since become the biggest online marketplace for drivers and garages in the UK. The company has offices in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Kiev.

Shell  has invested via its corporate venture capital arm, Shell Ventures, which supports both business and fund-led deals in areas of strategic interest for the parent company. This investment follows the development of the Shell Helix Service Specialist Network, a recently launched scheme which allows independent workshops on the aggregator site to be officially associated with Shell.

Other investors include Active Partners, which has stakes in household names such as Evans Cycles, Rapha, Leon and Soho House. Venrex Investment Management is another stakeholder and has previously invested in Just Eat, Not on the High Street and Revolut. Sir Trevor Chinn, who is the chairman of the website has also invested.

Al Preston, Co-Founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com, said: “This is a really exciting time for the company. The whole team have worked extremely hard to bring the business to this point, where we can attract such interesting partners for our next stage of growth”

“The plan will be to keep scaling our activities and consolidate our position in the UK. We are also focusing on new products and solutions that will further benefit our garage network and provide car owners with a better, richer experience when it comes to car maintenance and repairs.”

Commenting on the announcement, Huibert Vigeveno, Executive Vice President for Global Commercial, Shell, said:

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“The aftermarket sector is changing rapidly as technology savvy customers seek products and services which are easier and more convenient to use. Shell wants to be at the forefront of shaping those products and services.  Digital and services partnerships such as this investment in WhoCanFixMyCar.com are very much part of our future growth strategy.”

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The administrators of former garage comparison website Dipstix have published the following notice:

Nationwide comparison site which matches motorists who need car maintenance with garages is on sale by Metis Partners, the award-winning commercial intellectual property consulting firm.

Dipstix Limited (in Liquidation), which traded extensively in the North-West of England and featured in the Liverpool Echo, was an online aggregator for independent garages and was able to offer the services of more than 1,100 garages nationwide. Its website attracted approximately 18,000 unique views a month, of which 4,000 would turn into enquiries.

Incorporated in 2013, Dipstix had achieved significant investment.  In 2014 it raised £600,000 in a crowd funding campaign. With an estimated market size of 10 million customers, Dipstix had succeeded in attracting circa 10,000 customers since launch in 2013.  

The sale also reinforces Metis Partners’ expertise and reputation in technology asset sales, which includes the successful marketing of the IP assets of Ekos Global, Matchchat and Blinkbox Music.

The opportunity is expected to be of considerable interest to those operating in the areas of car maintenance comparison sites; online aggregators; car e-commerce; comparison websites; and location-based services.

Nat Baldwin of Metis Partners, who is co-ordinating the marketing drive for the Dipstix assets, said: “Dipstix was among the pioneers in providing maintenance information to motorists and matching them to independent garages who were keen to carry out the work.

“The Dipstix site provided comparisons based on price of maintenance work, ratings and reviews as well as distance to garages. Dipstix’ revenue generation strategies included charging garages sign-on fees and collecting a percentage of the booking fee, as well as working with garages to offer additional services and products that could be sold on to clients.”

Assets linked to the IP asset portfolio include: a fully developed software platform with extensive software development documentation; customer and garage databases; goodwill in the Dipstix brand; branded domain names and website content; and unregistered trade marks.

All offers should be submitted directly to Metis Partners by noon on Thursday, July 14, 2016. 

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