Drive Spotter secures largest investment for GIA graduate

Ronny Kerr · March 9, 2016 · Short URL:

Global Insurance Accelerator graduate offers video analytics platform for commercial fleets

Drive Spotter, a video analytics platform for commercial fleets, today announced that it has secured $750,000 in seed financing led by Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company with participation from Voss Distributing (an official Red Bull distributor for 150 counties across Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri).

The investment is the largest yet for a Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) portfolio company, as Drive Spotter was part of the accelerator’s 2015 cohort. As a result of the round, Kurt Eaves (Grinnell Mutual’s vice president of underwriting) and Marty Ellingsworth (former president of Verisk ISO) have joined Drive Spotter’s board of directors.

Grinnell, an Iowa-based mutual reinsurance company operating in 12 Midwestern states, helps back GIA, which is also based in Iowa. GIA focuses specifically on spurring startup innovation in the insurance industry by offering entrepreneurs access to investors from insurance carriers and insurance executives as mentors. Additionally, startups that join GIA receive a $40,000 seed investment in exchange for a six percent stake in the company.

Members of GIA’s 2016 cohort include Fluttrbox (aerial imaging for property assesment), Isaac Re (marketplace for insurance risk-backed bonds), Serious Social Media (social media automation for insurance professionals), Smart Drivinc (auto-disabling cell phone features while driving), Telematic (smartphone app that monitors driving for insurance policies), and WeSavvy (digital insurance platform).

Drive Spotter, which graduated from the GIA program last year, offers a video analytics platform to help fleet managers minimize risk and accidents resulting from driver error. Additionally, the platform seeks to help finance and dispatch offices with preemptive cost-saving measures such as reducing fuel costs and decreasing vehicle wear and tear.

The core part of the platform enables commercial fleet managers to access video footage from dash cams as well as driving data to help drivers train better and boost their performance, ultimately with the goal of dropping operational costs and number of accidents.

“While we anticipate using their technology to improve loss control service for our customers, we’re proud to assist Drive Spotter’s growth as a market-leading platform that can save lives and reduce fleet operating costs,” said Kurt Eaves, Grinnell Mutual’s vice president of underwriting, in a prepared statement.

It’s clear that Drive Spotter solves a real need in the industry, but what’s less clear is how the company aims to compete in a pretty saturated market. A quick search returns Omnitracs, Teletrac, i4drive, Amodo, and Astrata as a few of the companies already offering commercial fleet analytics. And, in early February, I wrote about how a company called Zendrive had raised $13.5 million in Series A funding for its up-and-coming driving analytics platform.

After reaching out to the company to hear their plan to differentiate from the crowd, I received this response from CEO Chris Augeri:

"Relative to existing video analytics solutions, we often hear from commercial drivers that in-cab alerting is often highly distracting. We’ve built our platform to better integrate with existing driver awareness and navigation technologies to solve that problem. In other words, whereas many competitors have built what amounts to an overly ambitious detention hall monitor, we’re building a virtual ride-along that provides the driver an extra set of eyes.

"Zendrive and other telemetry solutions provide great insights into vehicle usage. We help fleet managers connect those dots on vehicle operations with why and how drivers are handling their vehicle. For instance, while telemetry data can only tell you that a driver performed a hard stop, video data can reveal if that behavior was due to being cut off by another vehicle or the driver being distracted from the road ahead.

"Other platforms tend to emphasize only what the driver is doing wrong - we incentivize what these drivers are doing well. We can extract the best performance from people when we have ways to minimize bad habits and maximize good habits. It’s very difficult to reward drivers for good habits when the only data being collected is about hard stops and hard turns. We collect a broad range of driver behavior that empowers fleet managers and insurance companies to better incentivize their drivers."

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