Mobile mechanic service wants to expand with GM retailers
Yoshi is a Japanese word that can roughly translate to "keep moving." That's the slogan of a small but fast-growing and well-connected American company called Yoshi Inc., which provides light maintenance and repairs for vehicles, car washes and gasoline deliveries to customers at home or work.
The San Francisco vendor was conceived as an alternative to fuel stops. As Yoshi's business model has broadened, company co-founder Bryan Frist says the company is exploring ways it can work with the service departments of franchised new-vehicle dealerships, especially General Motors retailers.
"We've met with a lot of dealers," Frist, 31, said. "We don't see this as competing with them."
In February, GM Ventures and ExxonMobil led a $13.7 million round of funding for Yoshi. The company is using the funds to accelerate its geographic expansion.
Yoshi is working with GM to integrate its services with the automaker's OnStar subsidiary, Frist says. In four markets so far — Tampa-St. Petersburg, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cleveland and St. Louis — owners of eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac cars and trucks can connect their OnStar account with the Yoshi mobile app.
That link enables the vehicle to notify Yoshi automatically when its fuel tank is getting low, says OnStar spokeswoman Stephanie Lang. The customer then can use Yoshi's app to schedule a fuel delivery, Lang adds. Frist says Yoshi is working on rolling out OnStar capabilities to all of its markets.
GM also offers Yoshi's services as a perk for employees at its technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Mich.
For now, Yoshi is small. It started this year in just six markets but since has added 10 more, Frist says. For consumers, a subscription to Yoshi's basic retail service starts at $20 a month. The subscription includes discounts on fuel, free weekly fuel deliveries and access to other services.
- Website: startyoshi.com
- What it does: Yoshi started as a fuel delivery service, later adding car washes and light service work such as oil changes and wiper blades. It refers customers who need tires to Bridgestone. Some employers offer Yoshi services as a perk, and Yoshi fuels vehicles for some dealerships. The company is looking at referring customers to GM dealerships for heavier service work.
- Founders: Nick Alexander, CEO; Bryan Frist, president; Dan Hunter, chief hardware officer?
- Established: 2015
- Investors: GM Ventures, ExxonMobil, others
- Markets: Silicon Valley, Calif.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Nashville; Los Angeles; Chicago; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Tampa-St. Petersburg; Cleveland; Warren, Mich.; St. Louis. More planned this year.
Maintenance and repair services "are competitively priced and performed by licensed operators," Frist says. He declined to say how many subscribers the company has.
Frist said Yoshi's goal is expand to about 25 U.S. markets by year end. By contrast, YourMechanic, which dispatches mechanics to customers' homes and offices, says it operates in more than 700 U.S. cities.
Yoshi also serves several dealerships within large groups, delivering fuel to vehicles in their inventories, Frist says. Customers include Galpin Honda in San Fernando, Calif., Two Rivers Ford in Mount Juliet, Tenn., and two dealerships in Beaman Automotive Group, of Nashville, he adds.
Frist's name opens a lot of doors in Nashville. His father is Dr. Bill Frist, a former U.S. Senate majority leader from Tennessee. His late grandfather, Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., and his uncle, Dr. Thomas Frist Jr., co-founded Hospital Corp. of America, which is based in the city.
Nashville isn't Yoshi's biggest market, Frist says, but it's one of the most active.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.