Mojio CEO on the future of the connected car and his company's new funding round

Steven Loeb · February 21, 2019 · Short URL:

The connected car company raised $40M in venture funding earlier this week

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While the dream of having fully autonomous vehicles driving down the street is probably still decades away from being fulfilled, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of exciting developments happening right now. There are a slew of connected right now, which are producing data on location, diagnostics and even driver behavior that can make the road safer.

With over 470 million connected vehicles expected by 2025, there's a big opportunity for the company that can monetize that data. Mojio, a platform and SaaS provider for connected cars, that wants to help collect data even from cars that aren't yet connected. 

On Wednesday, the company announced that it raised $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round, led by Kensington Capital. Investors also include vehicle protection services provider Assurant, automotive industry supplier Bosch, as well as T-Mobile. Innogy Ventures, Iris Capital, Telus Ventures, Trend Forward Capital, along with Series A investors Amazon Alexa Fund, BDC IT Venture Fund, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and Relay Ventures, also participated. The round brings its total funding to $57 million. 

The company says will use the new money to invest in its talent and technology "required to meet the evolving needs of Mojio’s enterprise customer base."

In the last six months, Mojio was ranked the second fastest-growing tech company in Canada by Deloitte and debuted two jointly developed connected mobility solutions with Bosch; the first at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, and the second at NAIAS 2019 in Detroit.

Kenny Hawk, CEO of Mojio, spoke to VatorNews about his company, his mission and where he sees the connected car going next.

VatorNews: What is the problem that Mojio is trying to solve? What is your solution?

Kenny Hawk: Despite the growing interest in connected vehicles and the optimism around the ‘autonomous future,' only a fraction of the vehicles on the road today are connected, and even fewer are generating actionable data. While some automotive manufacturers are making technological improvements with the newest models, particularly in the luxury segment, most vehicles sold today do not have baseline connectivity and will remain in in use beyond 2030. The automotive industry is searching for ways to accelerate the deployment and adoption of connected car technology, a key step on a path towards the autonomous future.

Mojio wants to give every vehicle a voice by harnessing the power of connectivity and automotive data to make driving smarter, safer and more convenient. We offer mobile network operators with end-to-end telematics solutions to rapidly deploy branded connected car services for the owners of nearly a billion unconnected cars. With a Mojio-powered solution, drivers, families and small businesses can access previously unavailable, actionable vehicle data that empowers smarter decision-making about family safety, driving behavior and vehicle maintenance.

We recently announced the launch of an integrated emergency response solution for connected cars that senses collisions, assesses severity and triggers the appropriate emergency response. Developed in partnership with Bosch, the technology can be implemented in any type of passenger vehicle, even those already on the road today. The solution enables rapid dispatch of local emergency responders to the scene of a crash, while simultaneously sending a notification to designated SOS contacts, such as family and friends.

We also announced a comprehensive connected vehicle solution for automotive dealers and their customers. The solution, Pocket Drive, was developed in partnership with Assurant and offers drivers a wide range of features and integrated services that enable a smarter, simpler and safer way to drive with insight into vehicle diagnostics and driver behavior.

VN: Who is the typical customer for Mojio? Walk me through some typical use cases.

KH: Our solution is offered to a variety of partners, from wireless carries such as T-Mobile and TELUS, to automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Our partners then provide white-labeled connected car solutions to drivers ranging from families with first-time teenage drivers, to small business managing fleets of professional drivers. We’ve has also seen an increase in ride-sharing drivers using the connected car solutions to improve the overall customer experience for their passengers by providing an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot via the Mojio powered in-car Wi-Fi hotspot service.

VN: How many customers do you currently have? How are you growing?

KH: Currently, our customers include Assurant, the world’s leading provider of vehicle protection services and extended warranties, as well as nine mobile network operators across six countries.

We’ve has seen massive growth over past few years. The company has increased its global base of connected car subscribers from 3,000 in mid-2016 to more than 850,000 in 2019, representing exponential growth of more than 28,000%. Deloitte declared Mojio to be the second fastest-growing tech company in Canada in 2018, with nearly 12,000% revenue growth in four years.

VN: What kind of ROI have your customers seen from using your platform?

KH: In early 2018, T-Mobile US Inc. highlighted how SyncUP Drive in generated net-new revenue of more than $100M USD in the first 12 months of operation, in addition to driving substantial net-adds for the operator. T-Mobile has since launched MetroSMART Ride via its prepaid brand, MetroPCS, and now offers its connected car services to more than 75 million American subscribers.

As of February 2018, the Motion solution in the U.S. had a combined average app store rating of 4 out of 5 stars. For comparison, the combined average app store rating of connected car apps from 10 major automaker brands in the US, including BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes and Volkswagen, have averaged 2.7 stars.

Here’s a real app review from SyncUP DRIVE customer:

“I’ve used my SyncUP DRIVE for about 5 months now. Personally, it has saved me quite a bit of money! The diagnostic alerts helped me get the maintenance I needed on my vehicle, with quick fixes that if I’d brought into a shop would have charged me a dime and a leg, probably for things I didn’t really need. I also broke down once out of town and had a tow truck come pick me up within 25 minutes & towed my car directly to where I wanted it. Didn’t have to pay a penny. My kids use the Wi-Fi for connecting their tablets on longer drives. So far $10/m for the service has been a great investment.”

VN: How many employees does Mojio currently have? How many are you planning to add and in which departments?

KH: Mojio currently employs 97 full-time employees and we have aggressive hiring plans for 2019. Investing in additional talent is one of the key strategic uses of our recent Series B funding.

VN: What are some of the aspects of the technology that you will be investing in going forward?

KH: We plan to continue to invest in the talent and technology required to meet the evolving needs of our enterprise customer base, specifically targeting automotive manufacturers and suppliers to develop embedded connected car solutions in addition to our after-market offerings.

VN: Who are your competitors? What separates Mojio from them?

KH: While there are a handful of aftermarket connected car solutions in the market, what makes Mojio stand out is that our cloud-based platform and SaaS solutions are designed for telco-grade reliability, scalability and security. This is key for building out a solution for mass consumer adoption for our partners who typically have an addressable customer base in the tens of millions. In addition, Mojio provides our partners with the ability to deploy turnkey or bespoke offerings depending on their customers’ needs.

Lastly, Mojio’s automotive pedigree has further been strengthened by investments from top tier automotive solution vendors giving us unique capabilities like detailed cross-brand diagnostics capabilities, integration with embedded vehicle telematics units, advanced crash detection intelligence and emergency response services, that give consumers of our both breadth and depth of connected car experience.

VN: How has the connected car space evolved in recent years? What do you see the next step in that evolution?

KH: First and foremost, the adoption of connected cars has gone mainstream, not just in the developed world but around the globe. Using connectivity to enhance the driving experience with safety, security and convenience features is an expected outcome. The next step is in integrating the car into the rest of the connected consumer experience. Whether that is with the digital home, retail or smart cities, the intelligence derived from that connection will drive cross-domain convenience for both consumer and business users.

VN: What is your ultimate goal with Mojio? Where do you want to see the company in the next 5 years?

KH: We see Mojio as a catalyst for driving the adoption of mobility services on many fronts: consumer, commercial and public transport. Any entity that wants to incorporate connected, intelligent mobility into their business or service offering will be able to leverage Mojio’s platform and solutions on-demand and with very little effort. We see ourselves prodding managed mobility as a service to our partners and customers.

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