A Q&A with Local Motion co-founder Clement Gires. The Burlingame, California-based startup, which offers an in-car device-based vehicle fleet management platform, announced the closing of a $6 million Series A funding round in late August from Andreessen Horowitz. It was founded in 2010 by Gires and John Stanfield.
SUB: Please describe Local Motion and your primary innovation.
Gires: We build car-sharing technologies for fleets. Corporations or municipalities can have very large vehicle fleets. We designed an onboard hardware module we install in cars. Once in place, vehicles are shared and can be accessed by any authorized employee with their existing badge or mobile phone—no need to look for keys. Managers quickly get a sense of the real-time activity of the fleet and our analytics can help them drastically reduce the size and impact of the overall fleet.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Gires: Our service is targeted to organizations operating a car fleet—companies, cities, universities, governments, etc.—of any size. We are currently operating in the U.S., but have begun to expand in Europe, starting with France.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Local Motion from the competition?
Gires: Our closest competitors would be Invers and Metavera, but these companies evolved from the traditional fleet management industry; we’re the only ones truly focused on the end-user experience. We inspire people to share vehicles first, then help our clients with analytics. Our team is small and reactive, and we own both the software and hardware, so our product evolves very fast.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Gires: It was founded in 2010 when John and I were in Stanford. We actually began by building an electric car made for local trips, which we wanted to sell to places, not people. That’s when we started developing technologies to help our car interact with its environment. We wanted it to know how many people were onboard, who they were, where they were going, etc.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Local Motion? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Gires: About a year ago, we realized that it would take us a bit of time to manufacture 10 million cars. We also realized that there were already 10 million-plus cars in U.S. fleets that were very inefficiently and painfully shared, day-in and day-out. So, we found a way to pack our technologies in a little module that we can now install in any car.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Gires: We built the first vehicle truly dedicated to the local environment. We want to change the way people move around. ‘Local Motion’ resonates well and inspires.
SUB: You recently closed a $6 million Series A funding round. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more funding?
Gires: When we began working on our car sharing technology, we immediately saw a lot of interest from entities such as Google and the City of Sacramento. Now that we understand our customer needs better and have proved product-market fit, we have to expand the team to iterate faster on the product. We also want to accelerate our growth in the U.S. and expand to Europe.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Gires: We want to build the largest network of shared cars in the world. We are planning to expand the team to 25 quickly and are hiring electrical engineers, developers, and marketing and sales people.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Gires: We spent a lot of cold winter days in my garage in East Palo Alto trying to plan for the build of our electric vehicle, raise money and hire our first employees.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Gires: We are using a per-car per-month subscription model, with no upfront cost. In the future, we will continue to sell our core service as a subscription, but we will also sell premium features—for example, driver training to achieve better fuel efficiency.
SUB: What are your goals for Local Motion over the next year or so?
Gires: Our short-term goal is to be managing 10,000 cars in 18 months. Long-term, we want to build the largest network of shared cars in the world.
Local Motion – www.getlocalmotion.com