Introducing Era: The World's First Data Intelligence Platform for The Car
When we started Vinli four years ago, little did we know how fast the automotive industry was going to change - and how fast we were going to have change with it. Today, I’m excited to share with you the new Vinli. But before I do, I’d like to share a little bit of Vinli’s history.
Since inception, we’ve wanted to give as many drivers as possible vehicles that can finally participate in the age of the smart phone. So we started by creating our own hardware that enabled any car on the road to be connected to the web via Vinli’s platform. Next, armed with the insight that every driver would have unique preferences for their apps and services, we created the first open developer platform for the car - which enabled developers all around the world to build applications for vehicles in order to cater to these preferences. Developers ranging from teams inside big companies to a high school student who just wanted to help his friends learn how to drive, collaborated on the Vinli platform and created value for Vinli customers. As a result, Vinli drivers could customize their own connected vehicle experience by only using the apps that were relevant to them.
To help launch our service, Vinli secured investments from some of the biggest names in the automotive industry including Samsung, Cox Automotive, Continental, The Westly Group, First Round Capital, and the Brierley Group. Within ten months of connecting the first car, we became the largest app ecosystem in the automotive industry with the most engaged developer community. Our drivers were interacting with our apps an average of 18 times per month. But it was evident that to deliver this kind of experience to a wider audience we would need to work with bigger brands than just Vinli. Brands that needed a better way to build apps for the car to engage with drivers that desired a modern connected vehicle service.
The Missing Pieces
It had become clear that our focus on selling directly to the consumer had stifled our ability to bring a connected vehicle experience to as many vehicles as we had hoped for when we launched. We realized that integrating our technology deep within the automotive value chain and not outside of it was the only way to deliver our unique connected vehicle experience at scale. We needed to partner with leading automotive brands to offer our world-class digital experience to their customers instead of attempting to acquire customers through direct channels.
But changing our focus as an organization led to some difficult decisions on how to execute against our updated strategy. We had to right-size Vinli in a way that enabled us to service our new customer focus: the automotive brand. We had to let go of incredibly talented people who had helped to build our company’s foundation - and then we had to go and build the missing pieces in stealth mode.
We knew that to enable the best digital experience for a driver, we couldn’t only depend on connected car data - as it is only a very small piece of the puzzle. We needed to ingest and analyze any type of data related to a car such as driver telematics, financial information, infrastructure data, electric grid information, smart city data, to name just a few. More importantly, we needed to correlate and package this data in a way that brings value to the customer. We realized that to bring the right digital experience to each driver, we had to do four things:
- Achieve hardware independence. We discontinued the sale of our hardware and we created a process for third party hardware vendors to get certified on our platform. In addition, we can connect new cars with embedded connectivity units to our platform via direct integration with the automaker’s hardware or cloud infrastructure. Hardware independence allows us to give our partners a wide array of options to get data into our platform.
- Become data-type independent. We can now ingest any type of data in our platform – in other words, we no longer restrict the platform to ingesting data from connected cars. As such, our partners can leverage the data sets they already have, or utilize third-party-data-sets to create a differentiated offering.
- Embrace Customization. Every partner’s customer has unique needs so we work with our partners to build a bespoke product offering and a fully white-labeled experience that best suits their end customers. We now have the most comprehensive set of enterprise tools in the market today to tailor the customization of our partner’s connected vehicle experience.
- Predict the future. Ingesting and correlating data is no longer enough to provide value to enterprise partners. We created a new product offering with predictive capabilities to break new ground in the automotive industry and unleash the true power of big data.
The New Era
Today, I am excited to share with you the launch of our new product: Era. We believe that Era is the most advanced data intelligence platform in the automotive industry. It enables the prediction of future events by automatically discovering behavioral models through the simple ingestion of data without the need for an expensive army of data scientists. Era employs advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to simplify our understanding of the world around us. Era, at its core, is a data intelligence engine that enables our partners to predict the future and act on it now. Predictive services range from forecasting when things will go wrong with a car, to predicting the last mile. By utilizing Era, our partners can facilitate on-demand services and ensure that maintenance related issues are minimized for their drivers – all while enabling a richer engagement experience with their brand.
As this new era begins, we’re excited to share with you our partnership with ALD Automotive, one of the world’s largest vehicle leasing companies. Together, we’re harnessing the power of data-intelligence to create a world-class consumer and enterprise offering in over 42 countries. We can’t wait to see what the future holds as we co-create it. We’re thrilled to be playing a part in the rapid changes that will create personalized driving experiences for next iteration of the automotive industry.
Mark Haidar - Co-founder & CEO