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Smashed up your car? New service lets you upload digital pics to get repair estimates

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 10, 2009 07:15 AM

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How’s this for guerilla marketing?

When Alec Murray sees a car parked on the street that’s in need of some body work – perhaps a bashed-in bumper or a seriously scratched door – he takes a few pictures, then leaves this flyer on the windshield:

dentbetty.jpg

When the car owner finds the flier and goes to the DentBetty.com Web site, he can enter a code to get seven free repair estimates. Murray, an investor and board member who is helping DentBetty get off the ground in the Boston area, says about one in ten car owners who find the fliers eventually comes to the site to get an estimate. (You can also go directly to the site and upload photos that you take yourself.) Twenty-three body shops in the Boston area are now part of the DentBetty network. They'll eventually pay DentBetty a subscription fee to receive a continual stream of leads from the site. (None of the shops is paying during the service's start-up period.)

The service launched in Boston in September, and is also live in San Francisco and parts of New York City.

Here’s a short phone interview (about nine minutes) I conducted with Murray last month.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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