Offering automated roadside assistance to customers, Rick Narpaul has built a company on the principle of “people helping people.”
SAN ANTONIO, TX— It’s estimated there are over 2 million Veteran-owned businesses in Texas, making up roughly 8% of the total companies in the U.S. Vet-owned businesses are an extension of the service given to the country, and the need to support the organizations run by veteran servicemen and women cannot be overstated. For that reason, Texas Innovators will continue to share the stories of innovation from Veterans and how their endeavors are shaping the entrepreneurial landscape in Texas.
Having served in the U.S. Air Force as Security Police and stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and Suwon Air Force Base Korea, Rick Narpaul knows a thing or two about service and dedication. Thanks mainly to what he learned in the military, Narpaul finds that success rests on the fundamental idea that “people helping people” breeds results. TXi caught up with Mr. Narpaul, who shared how the concept of offering a more straightforward way to access roadside assistance, which led to the creation of MACH1 and a thriving Texas business.
Let's begin; tell us about MACH1 and when the idea came to you to offer on-demand and automated roadside assistance technology.
The vision came to me to offer an automated platform for roadside assistance to make the whole process easier for consumers and providers. After my wife and I started researching, we discovered that the industry was huge and had yet to harness technology to make it better. We then decided to build it and now offer our services across the U.S. with an on-demand model where customers do not have to pay membership fees.
Your company’s motto is “People Helping People,” could you tell us about this concept and whether it's been a guiding principle for you outside of your business? That is, was there a person or people who helped you get to where you are today?
This motto is the foundation of our work. We help customers connect to providers, and providers help our customers. My military background was based on the brothers in arms concept, and I genuinely believe in helping people.
Tell us about a challenge or challenges that came up as you were launching MACH1. Was there a moment when you felt doubt about becoming a business owner, and if so, how did you overcome it?
Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of perseverance and determination. There are times it can be challenging, but we’ve always had a mindset that failure is not an option.
Your on-demand roadside assistance app uses automation to connect customers with dispatch and services related to roadside assistance. What surprises you most about how quickly technology advances?
When we started building our technology, we decided to use native apps to achieve all the functions we wanted. Now, there are some hybrid options that we could use, but the technology was not to the extent we needed when we started building. It’s incredible to see how that has progressed in this short time; however, our native platforms still give us more control of the system and flexibility in our business model to offer our platform for licensing purposes to other businesses.
What has been a guiding principle for you in your business?
Treat everyone with respect, and don’t ask someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.
How important is it to embrace technology and innovation in our day-to-day lives?
It’s 100% important. Just about everything can be done through an app or with technology these days, and it’s only going to progress. If we embrace it, we can see entire industries like the roadside assistance industry be changed for the better.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business but maybe having doubts for one reason or another?
Take the first step, and there is no such thing as failure, only lessons to be learned.
What resources would you point to for the person thinking about starting their business?
For veterans, Bunker Labs and Pen Fed can be great resources. No matter your background, start with resources in your local community and start networking to find the right people to ask for help. Don’t let pride get in your way.
Tell us what you consider your biggest strength and how has it contributed to making MACH1 a success?
My leadership skills have helped to get us where we are today. As a leader, you can’t be afraid to take a risk or find a way when there seems to be no way. When starting a business, no one will tell you what you should do next, so leadership skills will help you be a success.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
After a couple of years of building the technology and our provider network, that moment came when our first customer used the service. In other words, when we launched in the market. Only 95% of startups make it to that point.
Finally, what’s next for MACH1?
We are constantly innovating. We are always looking to improve and expand from partnerships to the services we offer. For instance, we are launching a partnership with Pep Boys to give our customers 25% off services. Furthermore, we are currently building our mobile electronic vehicle charging service and hope to launch it in test markets early next year. The technology platform we created can be used in other industries, which we are super excited to see come to fruition.