Each week we’re profiling one company that has been selected for Boost – our early-stage startup growth program. Catch up with these companies in person at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam on May 26-27.
Imagine there was a device that could help make your car run quicker, cheaper and help you save the environment? Well that’s what OOCar is offering with its latest service.
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The company has a small dongle that you attach to your car’s diagnostics port – every vehicle made after 2001 has one. Once there, it then tracks your car’s performance and sends it to the OOCar app where it can give you tips and advice on how to save cash.
The startup claims it can save you as much as 30 percent on fuel costs and 40 percent on insurance premiums. Not bad.
When the dreaded engine warning light comes on, it can give you a breakdown of the damage and also a rough cost of repairs, so you can tell if a mechanic is trying to pull a fast one. The app is only available in France right now, but the team hopes to start expanding across Europe soon.
Ahead of OOCar’s participation in our Boost program at TNW Conference Europe 2016 this May, we asked the company’s founder, Tobias Nevin, to tell us more…
How did the company come about? What’s your background?
Philippe Chassany, our CEO, is tall and drives a small car. He banged his knee against the panel under the steering wheel in his Fiat500. Whilst repairing the broken panel, he discovered the motor diagnostic port. What was this for, he wondered?
After 48 hours online, he learned that the port can emit real-time information on the car’s performance and health, and that 100 percent of cars since 2001 are equipped with this port which can be accessed using a simple device.
A mobile/digital entrepreneur for over 20 years, Philippe saw a huge opportunity to connect millions of cars and use this data to improve the driving experience and reduce the cost of car ownership and operations.
In an industry emerging from opacity and moving to a service (vs. sales) model, he also saw a way to bring drivers and their service providers together to create value.
After 18 months of R&D with leading data scientists and automobile experts, Philippe recruited a core team to build a mobile application around smart car data algorithms to bring your car’s data into your phone, together with local service offerings and personalised advice.
The product went live in Nov 2015, and OOCAR now has hundreds of active drivers, covering thousands of miles with the service every day.
Tobias Nevin, COO with a background in engineering and business, joined the team full-time in January to help develop the activity and partnerships with players across the automotive value chain, from insurance, sales, repair and maintenance to rental, fuel and parking.
The company is based in Paris, with 10 full time team members.
Who are your biggest rivals and why are you different?
In this still virgin market, our biggest challenge is to evangelise the possibility and value of connecting your car. Our local competitors and connected car companies abroad are helping us to do this, but they have a very different positioning to ours.
OOCar believes the value is not in the hardware, but rather in the data and services around it with a concrete value proposition for drivers. We also think that the value of connected cars as a whole is greatest when the industry wins alongside the drivers, with economic benefit for everyone, even without drivers having to change the way they drive.
For these reasons, we are a B2B2C company, and have a hardware price that is 1/3 – 1/4 that of our competitors. We are focused on creating a local density of service providers, starting in France.
Finally, OOCAR is live and active on the roads with hundreds of drivers. Many of our local competitors are either not live at the time of writing this or have yet to gain traction with drivers.
Get rich or change the world? Which would you rather, and why?
Change the world – for the better. We are curious and active and having fun. It is about what we do together, rather than what we can buy alone.
How big is your team? Tell us one weird fact about a member of your team
There are 10 full-time team members, with a dozen or so experts and partners. Philippe could have been a tennis player for France, but rejected a place on the national squad at the age of 16 to pursue his studies; he created his first company six months after finishing his masters in computer science.
If you weren’t working on OOCar, what would you be doing?
Philippe would be surfing with his family in Galicia whilst thinking up his next startup. Tobias would be cooking with his wife and daughters, or wine tasting with future business partners somewhere in Europe.