It’s no secret that Vancouverites pay a hefty price tag to enjoy the beauties of this city. With that in mind, only a handful of people enjoy the luxuries of dwelling in the downtown core, able to walk to work, the grocery store, the gym and more. For the rest, their vehicle plays an integral part in their lives.
A car – yet another cost. “How much is gas today? When’s my next oil change? A flat tire, seriously?” These are all common things car owners face, and things that cost nothing but money.
Mojio aims to help you understand your driving costs and improve gas mileage among other things. Ultimately, assisting you in making informed decisions that keep your car healthy and safe for as long as possible.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
Mojio activates the connected car economy by delivering contextual insights that unleash a new wave of driving experiences. We utilize the car’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) Port (which is in every car made since 1996) to open up the car to the entirety of the Internet. Through apps for cars, we provide drivers with contextual data and insights that empower them with a deeper understanding of their vehicle’s health and maintenance needs, more efficient trip planning and recording, and uncomplicated ridesharing with friends and family. We have also built an open platform, which allows third party developers to create even more solutions for drivers beyond those that exist today – in this way, just like with your smartphone, the Mojio experience just keeps getting better over time.
The inspiration for Mojio was that we live in an increasingly open and connected world and yet cars are these expensive moving computers that don’t connect to anything. We like to call the car your “other” mobile device and believe it needs to be just as connected as your phone. So we had a vision to make cars more like your smartphone and to make driving a less isolating experience. We recognize people want their connectivity and are having accidents and dying every day to get it, so we’re working on solutions to make driving better and give the people what they want in the car they already own. Thus our tagline: it’s your car, only smarter!
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
From the beginning, we have had a great team and great backers that have helped to make the Mojio vision happen. The most challenging aspect to being a Canadian company is getting taken seriously at times. It’s important that we have investors from Silicon Valley because while we are not located in the Valley, we have the Valley in us – this is key for investment and brainpower.
The other hurdle is talent. In Vancouver, we are seeing more and more large tech firms show up to offer jobs to industry workers which creates stiff competition for limited resources for small companies like ours. On the one hand it’s nice to see the big guys down the block, on the other hand, it’s hurting our local industry in a similar way to a big box retailer opening next to a local mom and pop store.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Mojio?
Having Vancouver as our backdrop has played a huge role in making Mojio into what it has become today. The city is a unique tech scene in its own right with fantastic ideas and tons of brilliant people. The scene here is also very connected and supportive, so we have amazing resources at close hand to help with stuff like idea generation, concept testing, planning, and the like.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
The average American owns 1.35 sim-card enabled mobile devices. Yet, the car is lagging behind when it comes to being able to take advantage of its own data or connecting to things like automotive service providers, parking payment systems, insurance or roadside assistance providers.
Automakers understand the opportunity of the connected car and are rapidly building their own proprietary systems, or they are working to integrate with Apple Carplay or Android Auto. But for the most part, these only allow drivers to run their apps on the car’s onboard infotainment systems which isn’t enough.
At Mojio, we don’t see this as a true connected car. A connected car should utilize and react to contextual and ambient information about the driving experience. It should address the tens of millions of drivers who aren’t looking for a new car within the next five years, and it should address individual needs and preferences. And, it should do all this in any car – not just one under a specific brand. This is the main value Mojio provides.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
I was previously a professional snowboarder for seven years so I guess navigating difficult terrain is sort of a hobby of mine. For me, when I see a problem I want to fix it and find a solution to make it better. I first became an entrepreneur when I started an electric car company in 2008, which I ran for five years. Some of our biggest clients were utility companies, the U.S. Army and Chrysler, but we faced a challenge in that the business was hard to scale.
The biggest struggle in being an entrepreneur is to constantly find the drive and strength to push forward and make our vision a reality when you’re up against lack of resources and time. What’s helped me succeed as an entrepreneur has always been the team I have around me, I couldn’t have accomplished what I have so far without their hard work and dedication to the vision.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Like a lot of people, I’m kind of crushing on Elon Musk lately for how innovative he is and how he manages his company’s vision both internally and externally. But also Vancouver’s own Brian Wong at Kiip and Danny Robinson at Perch are great inspirations for what they’ve achieved to now as Vancouver natives in addition to being just really great guys.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Good question. We’ve had some pretty key Vancouver influencers involved with Mojio behind the scenes and have been thrilled with what they’ve been able to offer us as an early stage company. We are always open to learning from other people’s experience but to name a name would be weird for me, if someone was interested in helping us out, they know where to find us!
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Ha ha, that’s funny because I’ve got no regrets for my past and am satisfied that I continue to learn every day. You have to take the bad with the good as learning opportunities. Maybe I would tell me to ask my wife Sarah out sooner. She’s such an incredibly important part to my success as a professional but also as a person that if we started dating earlier, I might have been this happy sooner!
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
One of the key things I’ve learned is “fail fast.” When something isn’t working, be willing to accept and move on quickly. Don’t hang on to it for stupid prideful or emotional reasons. Just take the hit and move on. Otherwise, it’s the same stuff every business leader says out there: there is no such thing as an overnight success, be in it for the marathon, not the sprint. And as Canadians, there are a huge amount of government resources available to help with early stage companies – learn about them and use them!
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
As cliché as it may sound, don’t give up. Be selective when it comes to choosing members for your team, continue to question how you can make your product or service better and don’t be afraid to admit failure as that is part of the journey, just do it quickly and move on. Show your team how much you appreciate them because without them none of it would be possible. Stay committed to and don’t compromise quality. Build a brand that you are not only proud of, but create an environment where people want to work. When you have a dedicated team that sticks with you through the peaks and the valleys that’s when you’re set for success.
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.