Drivemode Sets Sights Beyond Its Distracted Driving App

Drivemode raised a $6.5 million Series A led by Panasonic Corp., which the startup plans to use to expand product development beyond just Drivemode’s flagship app, Mobility Buzz has learned.

Currently, the app — which has been downloaded over one million times across 180 countries — allows any driver with a smartphone to control key apps and functions of their phone safely and efficiently while behind the wheel.

With Panasonic as one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, Drivemode is in a perfect position to build out additional features for the app and partner with automakers to integrate its software technology.

As the automotive industry quickly becomes enveloped in the IT industry, Drivemode is interested in helping automakers understand the customer and keep in touch with them, Yo Koga, the startup’s founder and chief executive, told Mobility Buzz.

“We are trying to help those large automakers by offering a reasonable and realistic solution for drivers on a massive scale,” he said. This will help drivers “understand the user data and reflect that data in their product development strategies and competition strategies in the future.”

However, the kind of behavioral data that Drivemode collects is subject to privacy issues, Koga explained, meaning Drivemode cannot just sell it, but instead will partner with automakers to integrate its technology into cars. Drivemode has seen interest from almost all major auto manufacturers, but Koga declined to offer specifics.

Automakers are worried about being cut out of the software developments that would allow customers to communicate with their vehicles, Koga said. “So how are automakers to understand the customer and keep in touch with them? They are approaching us to integrate our product [within cars].”

There has been a particular interest from some of the automaker’s international divisions in developing countries like India, where cars can be sold cheaply but offer no connectivity between the driver and the car.

“On the app side, we are working on the platform to integrate any driving-related technologies like messaging, calling, entertainment, and more.” Koga said. There is also a potential that Drivemode will develop a hardware side to its product through partnerships instead of trying to build its own. However, Koga was unable to comment on whether there were ongoing discussions occurring.

Currently, Drivemode has a eight full-time staffers between its San Jose, Calif., and Tokyo offices, and it will be expanding its staff with the new funding. While it is unlikely Drivemode will open new offices, because of the growth the company is experiencing, Koga said, an office in Germany may be a possibility since the company has received numerous business inquiries from that region.

  Like This Post