Meet the MD: Fixter co-founder Limvirak Chea on how tech can transform the car maintenance industry
The CV of Fixter co-founder and CEO Limvirak Chea is certainly an impressive read.
As well as spending time at Google, Limvirak worked for the likes of AOL France and Eventbrite, before taking steps into entrepreneurship and angel investing.
Limvirak launched Fixter three years ago, after identifying a gap in the market for an intermediary offering that supports independent garages as well as streamlining car maintenance for drivers.
With plans to accelerate its national expansion, Fixter is set to pair digital technology with local knowledge to deliver its services to motorists across the UK.
Bdaily spoke with Limvirak Chea about his career journey, what gives Fixter the edge in the marketplace, and the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship.
Can you tell the readers about yourself first of all - i.e. your background, where you are from etc?
“I was born in the Philippines to Cambodian parents and spent my time growing up in several places.
“Earlier on I lived in Saudi Arabia, DR Congo, Mauritania, Niger and later relocated to France. I attended University in the US and France and eventually started my career there. I moved to the UK 15 years ago and embraced my work as a digital entrepreneur here.
“Before launching Fixter, I was lucky enough to experience working at Google, scaling Eventbrite across Europe and helping other early stage entrepreneurs with their businesses.”
What does your role entail?
“The role of a CEO changes as a company grows and that’s what I love about it.”
“Initially, it was about defining our vision, launching a minimum viable product (MVP) and validating our proposition to customers and independent garages. We were doing a bit of everything, from marketing and partnerships to products.”
“Then it turned into building an A-team to bring this vision to life. We had to make sure that every new hire was better than the last one, while simultaneously working on defining a great culture for Fixter.
“Now it’s all about executing our vision, prioritising which projects to allocate resources to and discussing our future with investors. I spend a lot of time with each individual team, which allows us to work with full capacity on all ends.”
When was Fixter set up, and how has it grown since then?
“We launched Fixter in 2017 and are funded by AXA. My co-founders and I wanted to change the experience of car maintenance for our customers, by making it as easy as ordering a takeaway.
“At the same time, we wanted to make it more profitable for independent garages too.
“Our revenues have been tripling year on year and we’ve grown to a team of thirty, which is really exciting.
“The long-term goal is definitely to redefine the industry and create a future-proof digital solution, as we believe that that’s the way forward.”
Did you find a niche in the market before setting this up? How does Fixter compare to others in the industry?
“First of all, the car service, maintenance and repairs market is a £13bn market per annum - in the UK alone!
“I believe however, that this market is also the largest consumer market that’s still untouched by the digital revolution.
“We have set up to become the first end-to-end-service with a simple online booking platform, collection and delivery at your doorstep and car experts negotiating prices for customers, supported by a world class customer support.”
What is it about your organisation that motivates and excites you the most?
“Our incredible team definitely excites me the most. Everyone is motivated to make a difference and everyone puts 110 per cent into their work.
“Having people around you who share your mindset and values, personally motivates me every day.”
Looking back on the past year, what has been your biggest achievement?
“It might sound trivial, but moving to our own office in Clerkenwell was a massive change and really helped us build a great team culture with strong Fixter values.
“It makes me feel confident that everyone is excited to come to the office every day. I make sure we have lots of social events, but at the same time, we work hard and are very focused on our goal. It’s a great balance.
“On the business side, our biggest achievement is the continuous growth across the UK and our network of independent garages and self-employed drivers.”
What have been your biggest challenges during your time at Fixter so far, and how have you overcome them?
“It was definitely difficult to get initial traction as we were tweaking the MVP, but once trust was proven, it’s been an easy ride.
“It doesn’t mean that the life of an entrepreneur is an easy one.
“During the current global COVID-19 crisis, we are having to be creative in order to keep our customers and workers safe. We have already put in many hours to implement helpful initiatives for the elderly and key workers.
“No day is the same and we have to tackle each challenge as it arises, but our team has been working tirelessly, as we are making our way through these unprecedented times.”
What does the future hold for your company? Any exciting projects in the pipeline we should know about?
“We’re planning to double our revenues in 2020 and scale across the whole of the UK. We keep refining our quote engine to offer the fairest prices to our customers.
“The most exciting project is the online software we are currently working on to help our partners digitise their workshop and increase their productivity. We define ourselves as a tech company and this will be a great way to demonstrate our abilities.
“The software will be a long-term solution for customers and garages and will be a big milestone in redefining the car maintenance industry.
Any advice you can offer to budding entrepreneurs?
“I would quote Ben Horowitz (The Hard Things about Hard Things): “People, Product and Profit”.
“If you want to become an entrepreneur, make sure you hire the right people as you’re going to work hard altogether, build a great product and the profits will come.
“It’s tough to build a company but so rewarding when you see the results.”
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