DriveX automates vehicle inspection when renting a car
The original idea of DriveX failed, but in the process of communicating with customers, the real problem was found – car inspection. Rauno Sigur, the CEO of the start-up, shares where they come from and where they are heading.
What’s your idea? What problem are you solving with DriveX?
DriveX is an automated vehicle inspection application to create transparency in vehicle usage. When renting a car today you need to make sure it is in good condition. It is the customer’s responsibility whether they check the car themselves, with the employee or fully trust the pre-filled papers.
The most painful thing is that control can be slow, inaccurate, and results are not transparent. As a result, clients have begun taking pictures before and after renting to protect themselves against claims made by the rental company, whether accidental or evil-minded. On the other hand, the rental company is not always able to identify who and when damaged the car or in which cases it would be justified to pay extra. In this case, the company has to bear the costs itself. In addition, we have discovered, today’s processing of vehicle control data is ineffective.
All in all, DriveX generates a report of the car’s visual defects as well as, for example, fuel level, mileage and, if necessary, fault codes. Unlike current solutions, we do not need a separate device for collecting information about the car, but in cooperation with the car manufacturers (Connected Car data), we gather the necessary information using the software.
Why and who needs it?
First of all, car rental companies, such as Citybee rental cars. But insurance companies, banks and corporate customers with more than 20 cars are also in need. For example, insurance requires transparency and handling claims quickly (customer, an insurance company, dealership, repair shop). Banks, on the other hand, have an interest in the process of leasing applications and corporate clients need to better manage their fleet. But there are, for example, car-sharing platforms like Autolevi or Turo in the US that rent from person to person and of course the owner wants a good overview and protection of their car.
How did the idea come about, what is its starting story?
Our team was born at the Porsche Innovation Hackathon in February 2019 when we reached 15th out of 750 and competed in the semi-finals. We also presented our idea to Porsche management, which was an extremely awesome experience. The idea at the time was automated vehicle setup, so that the seats, mirrors, modes could be automatically adjusted by the user’s phone. After the race, in the summer, we tried to sell the concept on the Estonian market and failed. It turned out that we had the “cherry on top” but not the “wound that hurts” type of idea. It was a very exciting moment as the companies started to talk about their real concerns and led us to the need for vehicle inspection!
Has this been done in the world? If so, how do you do it better?
Our competitors today are mostly hardware startups who have developed automated vehicle inspection booths. Because this technology is expensive and focused on very detailed inspection, it has been used in security controls, the automotive supply chain, and manufacturing. But for our target group, the hardware solution is too much of an investment and inconveniently stationary. For example, airport car rental companies often do not have space or the ability to install current solutions. In addition, our competitors have neglected insurance companies.
Our goal is to create a highly scalable and easy-to-use solution with extremely low entry barriers.
How big is your team?
Our team includes Chief Product Officer Valter Läll, Kentti Koppel as Chief Technology Officer, Allan Triik being VP of User Experience and me, Rauno Sigur, as the CEO. Valter and Kentti have extensive software development experience with large clients in Net Group and me and Allan have extensive experience designing and scaling Cleveron technology around the world.
You could say our team is and will remain, very technical, many of us are with TalTech background.
We know each other from previous friendships or by working together. This is important because this way we complement each other and we know how to work together.
What do you need most now to move forward with the idea?
Our team mentality is the classic “measure nine times, cut once”. The most important thing is to define the problem very precisely and start solving it. However, it is also important to validate quickly and “fail” quickly if necessary. We have already completed the first round of customer meetings last year and now the second round begins where we also show the demo product and collect systematic feedback. We develop the product for our customers, not to the shelf.
Among our customers, we see there are several milestones that need to be reached before our final goal. But it is the milestones that help us better understand the market and our customers and become experts in this business segment. The goal is, after all, a useful product that maximizes value.
But we are also actively expanding our team – focusing on machine learning and developers.
Have you set goals for Ajujaht too? Where would you like to go with the help of Ajujaht?
Our goal is to get good contacts, feedback, and provide a framework for finetuning our team and product. The competition forces us to push and overcome ourselves, and we are grateful for that. Of course, every self-respecting team wants to win the competition. So does DriveX.
What are you most afraid of when developing your business?
There is no need to fear, fears must be overcome. We know that the startup world needs to be flexible, critical and quick in both decisions and actions. Passionate arguing and argumentation are not only a bonus but necessary in the team. It just has to be acknowledged, and that is what makes this exciting – this is something you don’t experience at 9-5 work. But the most important thing is the team, and that is why we pay close attention to make sure that our getting along in the future is as productive, fun and exciting as it is today. Everybody must have a spark in their eyes!
What will you achieve in the next 12 months?
We will definitely get our first real product ready, we will start pilot projects in both car rental and insurance companies. After a successful experience and learning curve in Estonia, we are using our contacts abroad and expanding to markets with larger volumes and the particular need for DriveX solution. We’ll raise funding when we really need it, and for that, we first need to achieve certain goals. In doing so, we are delighted to receive advice from experienced business angels, venture capitalists and experts in the mobility as a service sector.