Women in Tech: Gal Aharon
Hi Gal – tell me a little bit about yourself and EngieApp?
I was born in Israel however I lived in the US for four years growing up, attending both primary and secondary school there. Back at home, I served as a squadron operations officer in the Israeli Air Force and was part of the founding team of the new F16i Squadron.
I hold a BA Hons in Communication from The Interdisciplinary Centre, a private University based in Tel Aviv. It was here that I came up with the idea for Engie as part of the prestigious Zell Entrepreneurship program.
One day I was driving to university and the engine light came onto the dashboard of my car, and I had absolutely no idea what it meant. I went to the closest garage and the mechanic told me it was going to cost hundreds of pounds – I paid as I didn’t know how serious the problem was but I walked away feeling cheated.
Speaking about the problem with family and friends, I realised that many people have the same frustrations and that automotive is one of the last remaining industries to see any sort of innovation that empowers the consumer. Engie’s solution creates transparency and levels the playing field between mechanics – who traditionally have had the upper hand when it comes to knowledge about vehicle repairs – and consumers.
The idea for Engie was born and two and a half years ago I co-founded the company. Since then, I have managed the marketing and user growth for Engie in Israel and abroad.
Getting involved in Tech is still a new thing for women, what was the motivation for you?
My main motivation came from my parents are they are both entrepreneurs who established start-up companies. Growing up and seeing the thrill and excitement they got from building their own company gave me inspiration.
I love how technology can really revolutionise industries and solve massive pain points for consumers.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
I think that a start-up’s journey is like a rollercoaster. One day you are up and the next day you are down, but when you have a goal and a good team you always keep believing in it and you stay optimistic. I think the greatest accomplishment of the company is reaching over 100,000 users in Israel – 4% of the automotive market – in just 12 months and giving them value on a daily basis. The most rewarding thing to hear is when a consumer uses Engie and finds it so useful they can’t live without it.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
I think that the biggest challenge of a company from a small country is reaching the mass market outside of it. But what I learned from the start is that when there is a big problem then we will find the right solution, and in the UK there is definitely a big problem in terms of transparency and mistrust between drivers and mechanics. Our research found that Brits feel they’ve been overcharged by a collective £833million at the mechanics. What’s important here is that they may not actually be ripping customers off, but it illustrates the extent of UK drivers’ lack of confidence in mechanic quotes. They simply don’t understand what is being sold to them – and if it’s really necessary.
Do you think more women should get involved in Tech and why?
I definitely think that more women should be involved in tech and there is no reason it shouldn’t be 50/50. There are a lot of misperceptions that need to be broken down as it’s one of the most exciting industries to work in!
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
A lot of people will put you down or tell you it won’t work. Stop listening and try to do it, you need to stay optimistic and know that at least you gave your dream a chance.
Overview of how Engie works:
Engie is an all-in-one smart phone app that connects to your car, diagnoses faults and then offers real time quotes from local mechanics to solve the problem.
The app links to a unique Bluetooth device which plugs into the car’s on-board computer and sends maintenance updates directly back to the app. The ‘health check’ contains data on everything from engine malfunctions and emission to fuel consumption to battery condition.