Vipin Moharir, Autofacets: In search of startups in Latin America
Autofacets is one of the business units of the Gateway Corp, a corporation which invests in new technologies, including disruptive technology and next generation mobility companies.
Supporting the automotive industry for 10 years, Autofacets is now involved in developing next-gen mobility solutions, from supporting startups to providing solutions for large scale fleet, rental, B2B and corporate customers.
During my talk with Autofacets founder Vipin Moharir about the company’s plan to enter the Latin America market in 2019, I found out that the Netherlands-based company is on the lookout for startups.
You told me that you are seeking startups. What type of support does Autofacets actually provide?
VM: We support these startups with what we call “Smart Money” and that means satisfying two needs. First of all, these new companies need very quick exposure to market so time to market is very critical. Secondly, they need to reduce the total cost of ownership of the technology solution they use.
The need for funding is also an issue for startups and this is something we can provide but these two other things are also key and this is where we come in.
Besides having many automotive and technology experts, our extensive relationship within the fleet leasing and B2B mobility industry not only enables us to provide a smart platform for these startups but helps our current customers find the solution they need.
Finally, we operate in 17 offices worldwide so this helps when it comes to doing a worldwide launch or with networking in general.
Vipin Moharir and Amar Gupta (far left) of Autofacets with key representatives of Fixico, winner of the Fleet Europe Mobility start-up of 2018 (source: Fleet Europe)
Could you tell us about one of the new startups you are working with?
VM: Sure, we know that car-sharing came into the market around five years ago and this concept has been growing ever since. However, there is no third-party certification process guaranteeing the safety of vehicles for peer-to-peer car sharing.
To fill this gap, there is a new startup working in the United States and northern Europe called I-Garage. It features a mobile app which provides a car maintenance checklist and certifications stating whether or not vehicles are being well-maintained. With I-Garage and its guarantees, you will see the increase use of car-sharing in a faster and better way.
Autofacets is making its move into Latin America in 2019. What is involved?
VM: In Latin America, we have a project kicking off in Guatemala for a fleet of 5,000-10,000 vehicles, with operations in Brazil to be launched soon. Called the Autofacets mobility platform, this is being done with the help of Pascal Serres who is the CEO of Autofacets in France but also our Latin America expert.
The project, which is a connected uniformed services model, will be officially launched by the second quarter of 2019 in Guatemala with Brazil following shortly thereafter.
Could you explain a bit more about what this mobility platform is?
VM: Imagine you have acquired a car through a dealer by way of a leasing agreement of, let’s say, US$500 per month. You could reduce your monthly payment by promising to share your car for a particular number of days per month.
The more days you share, the less your monthly payment. Through this platform, you could even cut your payments in half.
So, why Guatemala and Brazil?
VM: Guatemala is an easier and smaller market to experiment first. We can test solutions and functionalities there and then modify the platform appropriately so that we can be bettered prepared for adoption around the rest of Latin America.
Brazil, of course, is a big market with a lot of opportunities. What we need to do before moving into this or any other country is to evaluate its characteristics. By this I mean knowing the type and age of vehicles in the country, traffic congestion data, and knowing the car buying or leasing habits.
Any last words?
Sure, I just want to reiterate that we are very interested in getting to know technology startups in Latin America. More specifically, next generation mobility startups, so this includes those related to the automotive, transportation, and logistics industries.
We see the mobility solutions of the future being focused on mass rapid transit as well as personalized mobility and soon, we will be looking toward the sky. Keep your eyes out for drone technology for people moving in the near future. There are some interesting things to look forward to.