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Reimagining Smart Car Repair: Our Investment in Kinetic

We are delighted to announce that Menlo Ventures is leading Kinetic’s $21 million Series B to support them on their journey to rethink smart car maintenance and repair. 

For millions of people, cars are a necessary part of daily life—driving to work, going to the grocery store, and taking their kids to school. But the cost of car ownership has skyrocketed in recent years, driven by higher vehicle prices along with rising repair and maintenance bills, which have led to car insurance rates jumping 40% over the last four years. 

Over the last decade, cars have become packed full of technology designed to make them safer and more comfortable for occupants. Sensors like cameras, sonar, and radar enable both safety features like automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection and convenience features like adaptive cruise control or parking assist. 

But there are downsides to having all this technology, especially when dealing with the aftermath of a collision. Now, even a minor fender bender needs repair work, which is more specialized and more expensive to ensure the embedded sensors work correctly. Given these sensors are responsible for critical safety functions, it is imperative that they are calibrated and repaired correctly—but legacy auto shops lack the tools to wrestle with the complexities of these systems. It hits the consumer, too: Newer vehicles can cost 30-50% more to repair, which means higher car insurance bills for everyone. 

The rise of electric and autonomous vehicles will only compound this problem as the number of sensors in these vehicles continues to grow. As vehicles increasingly become computers on wheels, the level of sophistication required to service and maintain them will skyrocket. The automotive repair industry has struggled to keep up with an estimated 800,000 more technicians required to meet demand over the next five years. 

Kinetic to the Rescue

Advancements in AI, cloud, and robotics have set the stage for a new approach to car repair. Kinetic offers modern maintenance and servicing for smart vehicles via its network of service centers.

Each service center is powered by high-precision robotics, calibration software, and in-house technician expertise. Kinetic began its journey to rethink aftermarket car repairs by starting at the end-of-line: scanning and recalibrating digital sensors after collisions. By pairing vision models and LIDAR, Kinetic built an intelligent system that can navigate the combinatorial explosion of calibration paths based on the car make, model, and year, and direct the robot to perform the calibration. 

We heard glowing feedback from Kinetic customers who described the technology as “insane” and delivering service levels that are “unmatched.” Compared to two- to four-hour manual sensor calibration methods, Kinetic typically calibrates in under 15 minutes, delivering greater precision and consistency. 

Today, Kinetic is focused on serving the 30,000 collision shops in the United States, which collectively generate about $50 billion of annual revenue. These shops value working with Kinetic to get repaired and calibrated cars back into owners’ hands ASAP. Kinetic’s full-stack approach of owning and operating its own service centers to provide a service to collision shops is more ambitious than selling the hardware to them, but it is the right way to deliver to the highest standards in the market and add new services over time as repair needs continue to evolve. 

A Win-Win-Win Scenario

Kinetic is a win-win-win for all parties involved. Consumers get their cars back faster and in better condition. Auto repair shops that use Kinetic can improve service levels while increasing their margins by freeing up floor space best utilized for other repairs. Insurance companies who foot the bill for these repairs have unparalleled visibility into the work being done to avoid paying inflated invoices, and then reward this transparency by directing more business to auto shops using Kinetic. 

The Team Behind the Wheel

Kinetic is a complex business that requires the unique skill sets this team possesses: technical prowess in software and robotics, operational rigor for service center launches and operations, and deep automotive know-how.  

CEO Nikhil Naikal is a two-time founder in the automotive industry. Prior to Kinetic, Nikhil founded Mapper, which Velodyne Lidar acquired in 2021, and he joined as a VP of Software Engineering. Kinetic’s CTO, Sander Marques, worked as a principal engineer with Nikhil at Mapper and Velodyne. Sander brings a deep background in automotive engineering, having worked as a racecar powertrain engineer for Obsidian Motor Group. COO Chris Weber spent eight years as an Operations and Product Leader at Uber, where he launched and scaled multiple lines of business within Uber Rides, Eats, and Business.

We are excited to partner with Nikhil, Sander, Chris, and the rest of the Kinetic team. We’ve been impressed by their pragmatism for delivering value in the near term and their clear and compelling vision for how the industry could one day operate. We look forward to joining the journey and teaming up with friends at Lux, Construct, and Haystack. Kinetic joins an impressive portfolio of companies building solutions for underserved legacy markets in the physical world, including Uber, Arc, ShipBob, and Dedrone. If you are a founder building in this category, we would love to hear from you!