A new app is introducing membership-free, on-demand roadside service for drivers nationwide.
Santa Monica-based HONK launched today, offering emergency auto assistance for anyone who owns a smartphone. The startup, which announced a gain of $1.8 million in seed funding, aims to provide a faster, more affordable alternative to the services of auto insurance companies such as AAA, AllState, and Geico.
Established in January, HONK was conceived after founder Corey Brundage’s fiancée’s car broke down on the road. He arrived to help her via an Uber ride and searched for roadside service options. But, without an AAA membership or his own car to return home, Brundage grew frustrated, confounded by the lack of service available to them.
“I was shocked and couldn’t get it out of my mind: there’s a button I can push to get a taxi in two minutes, but there’s no button I can push when I really need help on the road?” he said.
Since then, Brundage has worked “quietly” to refine the product – which now includes towing, tire changes, jump-starting, lockout service, and fuel service – and expand HONK’s network to several dozen cities throughout ten states.
“Now that we’ve perfected the technology and the model, we’re ready to announce, and make the product widely available in a number of ways,” Brundage said.
Through phone calls and word of mouth, the company has built a network of over 20,000 trucks nationwide and enlists 1,000 to 2,000 more each day, Brundage said. On average, he added, HONK drivers, who must submit to a background check and verify insurance information, have 20 to 25 years of experience.
“Since very few are under any exclusivity and we pay better, we actually have a ton of AAA trucks [and] drivers,” he said.
Because of its extensive coverage, HONK estimates a local driver will arrive 15 to 30 minutes after a service request has been made, a fraction of AAA’s 45-minute to multiple-hour wait times. “Whereas AAA will assign a service request to the provider that owns a territory, we assign ours to the closest truck with the best service rating,” he explained.
HONK prices services from $49 (and up) and provides quotes including taxes and tip.
The funding round comprised contributions from such investors as LivingSocial founder Aaron Batalion, The Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh, AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, Paige Craig, Jillian Manus, Mike Walsh, Structure Capital, and various institutional investors.
Brundage said the investment will “be used to raise awareness for HONK, primarily.”
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