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Business Unusual

The Startup Disrupting the Auto Collision Industry

Business Unusual

Creativity has rebooted business. Discover how through this ongoing series featuring unique products, services and technologies, as well as the personalities who have turned their dreams into our realities.

The Startup Disrupting the Auto Collision Industry
Image credit: Photo © Jeff Clark

Estify's story reads like a success checklist for tech startups. Young, savvy coders see an industry they can disrupt. Their idea wins university contests and scores an $800,000 seed round of funding. They enter an accelerator. They move to sunny California to make their fortunes.

One twist: the industry. Rather than social media or travel or entertainment or fashion, Estify's founders set out to modernize an antiquated sector--collision repair. "The industry's really outdated, and to be honest, that's why we wanted to work with it," says Jordan Furniss, who founded Estify in 2012 in Provo, Utah, along with fellow Brigham Young University business student Taylor Moss and Arkansas transplant Derek Carr. "A lot of [shops] are family businesses, and some of the stuff they do is just how they've always done it."

Specifically, the trio wanted to address the mind-numbing process of reconciling the actual cost of repair jobs with the estimates the shops submit to customers' insurance companies. Comparing estimates to costs--part for part, labor hour for labor hour--is a big time suck, says Danny Panduro, vice president of J&L Body and Paint Shop in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. "If our system doesn't match the insurer's estimate, it messes up accounting ridiculously," he says. A big repair job can take two hours to reconcile, and J&L does about 20 estimates a week, in line with industry norms.

Estify Reconcile completes this task automatically, comparing two scanned or PDF estimates line-by-line via algorithm and creating a report, so differences can be quickly addressed. "I upload the PDFs, and literally within five minutes I have a reconciliation," Panduro says. "It's gold."

Estify, now based in the greater Los Angeles area, sells its software to repair shops and adjustors for $99 to $500 a month, depending on how robust a system the shop wants and the number of estimates and reconciliations processed.

Within several weeks of its first big public push last October at an industry trade show, Estify had signed up close to 100 shops and was working through a rapidly growing waiting list. "In this industry, if we ended up with a few thousand customers we would be considered a huge success," Furniss says. "But we'd like to go beyond that and change how it operates."

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This article was originally published in the February 2014 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Crash Course in Modernization.

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