Smartcar - The Road To Autonomy

The Building Blocks of Mobility

Sahas Katta, Founder & CEO of Smartcar joins Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss the building blocks of mobility – standardized APIs (Application Programming Interface).

The conversation begins with Sahas discussing the founding of Smartcar and growing up in Silicon Valley. Growing up in Silicon Valley has its advantages as one is able to build and develop a network early in life.

This network becomes extremely valuable as one is exposed to new and emerging technologies prior to individuals located in other geographical regions. Expanding upon this, Grayson asks Sahas when the automotive industry first turned its attention to Silicon Valley.

Automotive has always had a heart in Silicon Valley.

– Sahas Katta

The trend began to take hold in 2015 with the adoption of connected cars. Capitalizing on this trend, Sahas and his brother Sanketh secured a pitch meeting (view the Smartcar pitch deck here) at Andreessen Horowitz which led to $2m in venture capital funding.

With funding secured, Sahas and Sanketh got to work developing a standardized API for connected cars to solve the connected car problem.

If you are a mobility company trying to bring your product or service to the market, you may today have to do proprietary integrations with a dozen or two dozen different car brands. Each integration might take 6, 9, or 12 months to get through that process.

The end result in the world pre-Smartcar, companies decided not to even do it. It was too much work, too expensive, and too time-consuming.

– Sahas Katta

Today with a standardized API for connected cars, companies and developers can build new products and services without having to dedicate an immense amount of resources.

As connected cars become autonomous, Smartcar’s platform will be the plumbing that enables the “non-sexy” parts of the business to function at full capacity.

From unlocking doors to ensuring the vehicle is fully charged to making certain that the vehicle is properly cleaned. This is all possible with Smartcar’s platform.

Staying on the theme of what is possible with Smartcar’s platform, Grayson and Sahas discuss vehicle miles traveled (VMT). How does VMT work and what has Smartcar learned from its pilots in California and Oregon?

With California’s plan to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035, Grayson shifts the conversation to focus on electric vehicles. Sahas explains how the Smartcar platform can be used to optimize vehicle charging and monitor the health of EV car batteries.

We are not the innovators coming up with these ideas to solve these problems. We provide the building blocks for incredible entrepreneurs to build really amazing applications which create a lot of value for both consumers and businesses.

– Sahas Katta

One of the applications that uses Smartcar’s platform is Turo. Smartcar’s platform has enabled Turo to digitize their business all the while eliminating consumer friction. This same approach can be applied to fleet operators.

With Smartcar operating in the United States, Europe, and Canada, the company takes the time to understand the culture and localizes its product to comply with local rules and regulations.

Wrapping up the conversation, Sahas shares his thoughts on what mobility will look like in the United States over the next four years.

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Recorded on Thursday, January 21, 2021