In the race to appify automobiles, the Mountain View-based API platform, Smartcar is accelerating. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $24 million in a Series B funding round led by Energize Ventures and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and New Enterprise Associates.
Brothers Sahas and Sanketh Katta co-founded Smartcar in 2015 in response to the lack of standardized interfaces and resources for developers looking to build apps for cars. “There was no equivalent of Android or Windows for cars,” said 33-year-old CEO Sahas Katta. Forbes.
The investment comes nearly four years after the $10 million Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates and brings the API startup’s total venture capital funding to $36 million. Today, Smartcar’s technology is compatible with 22 vehicle makes and models and the new funding will help the company expand its compatibility to include more car brands.
In recent years, a massive shift towards digitalization and electrification in automotive manufacturing has positioned cars to become an integral part of the Internet of Things ecosystem. Data forecasts suggest that by 2025 there will be more than 400 million connected cars on the road, up from some 237 million in 2021, according to Statista. John Tough, managing partner at Energize Ventures who is now a Smartcar board member, agrees. “By next year, 90% of all new cars sold will be connected to the internet, up from just 20% in 2018,” he says.
Automotive manufacturing giant BMW has also launched its own API platform called ConnectedDrive. However, these platforms aim to create in-car infotainment apps, Katta says, while Smartcar provides a different kind of integration.
Developers can use Smartcar’s API platform to build apps that help people find better insurance rates or share their car’s location with loved ones or save money on car charging. ‘a car. One of Smartcar’s customers is car-sharing marketplace Turo, which uses its APIs to locate and unlock customers’ vehicles from the Turo app. In 2017, Katta also created a chatbot or “Teslabot” named Elon that could control a Tesla’s lock functions through Facebook Messenger.
As for some of his competitors like Otonomo, whom he accused of plagiarism in April 2019, Katta claims to have taken different routes. “Several market players have sought to sell datasets on people’s conduct, their behaviors for marketers and advertisers,” he said. Smartcar does not sell user data but allows users to review and approve the data they wish to share with their apps.
Brought by an entrepreneur father to a tech hotbed in Silicon Valley, the Katta brothers identified a key problem in the mobility industry: inequality. “It’s incredibly expensive to buy a car, to maintain a car, or to have it repaired and insured,” says the CEO of Smartcar. Hardware is not the solution, he explains. It is “software developers who make available applications that solve these problems with innovative solutions”.