Mike Simpson backs out of his driveway, waves to his neighbor Jill and begins his afternoon rounds dropping the kids off at soccer practice and squeezing in a visit for dinner necessities at the grocery store in the hour before having to pick them up again.
He tries to ignore it, but the bright yellow glow reading “check engine” catches his eye again. He’s known for two weeks the Subaru needs an oil change but time never seems to be on his side.
“Ugh, you see man. I gotta get this taken care of. I can’t afford for the Subee to die on me.”
We walk through the aisles at Fred Meyer as he shares how he works remotely as a Mechanical Engineer reviewing plans for a new stadium his firm is building in the UK, while simultaneously helping manage the kids and house when his wife is at work as an RN in the local ICU.
“It’s a lot, but we make it work. It’s the time-consuming, important things like oil changes that create the most stress. You know you gotta get them done but where do you fit it in?”
Mike’s situation isn’t unique. His time is precious and there never seems to be enough of it. They take too long and are inconvenient. It always feels like something is slipping between the cracks.
That’s precisely the dilemma the Vancouver, Washington-based app Oili (pronounced Oil-e) is solving.
The idea originated during a meeting in 2019 between Co-Founder Charles Swatzell and a young, brilliant coder, Makai Lester. During the meeting where Lester was pitching an application to the CEO of Formos Software, Swatzell lamented his own struggles waiting in lines at local drive-through lube shops.
“I told him I wasn’t sold on the app he was pitching me, but I really wished someone would develop something where a local mechanic would come to my house or business to change my oil on my terms.”
Two weeks later, Lester produced the first version of the concept.
Now, some 3 years later, the founding team consists of Swatzell in an advisory role, Lester as CTO, high school friend Trey Natherson leading marketing efforts, and local entrepreneur Colton Telford as CEO.
The team has just brought on their first hire to run their Social Media efforts.
“It’s an exciting time,” Telford states. “We have a slate of great providers, our first Fleet service agreements, and officially launched in March in the Vancouver/Portland Metroplex. We are seeing the app downloads and appointments take off, and a lot of interest comes in from Fleets, Apartment Complexes, and businesses who want to offer this as an incentive to their residents and employees.”
The app is simple. After downloading from the Google Play or Apple App store, the user quickly adds their vehicle details, address, and payment method, and selects a date and time for service. A local, insured, Oili-Certified provider is notified through the app and accepts the appointment.
“It’s a win for me,” states independent Oili-Provider Bryan Munnick. “I get to put my education as a master mechanic to good use, working on my own schedule and making more money than at any garage around.”
Oili-providers are all independent contractors who apply to work through the Oili app. If accepted, the profit can range from $30-$40 per appointment after the cost of goods. “I love the freedom and flexibility this gives me,” Munnick adds, “It can also lead to other mechanical work the customer might need.”
“I’m excited to try it,” Simpson says as we make our way to pick up his kids. “My wife heard about it from a friend of hers who said the experience was incredible. She said it gave her back some of her valuable time to do the things that mattered most to her, as well as the peace of mind knowing her car was in good hands.”
“That’s our mission,” Telford states, “Giving people back their time, creating opportunities for local providers to make a great income, and boosting the local economy. We love our community and can’t wait to bring this to more cities across the US.”
According to Telford, Oili is taking meetings with investors and plans to be in 3-5 cities in the coming months, while also developing Oili Academies; a partnership with local high schools to train interested students in fluid mechanics, entrepreneurialism, and professionalism.