30 Leading Companies of the Year 2021
Today connected cars generate a lot of data about how, when, and where they are being used. With greater connectivity and autonomy, the amount of data collected from vehicles is growing exponentially. The industry needs to figure out how efficiently can the data generated by the automotive ecosystem be converted into valuable products and services.
LinkedCar is an innovative start-up creating a world-class Connected Mobility platform for the automotive industry based on trusted Salesforce technology. LinkedCar’s Platform brings everyone in the automotive sector closer to the customer. Not only to show real-time data of the connected car but to share and monetize this data. We interviewed Mario Schraepen, the CEO of LinkedCar, to know more about the company’s vision and its working. Here are a few excerpts of the interview:
Q. Why did you pick this arena of business? What do you see as lacking in the industry, and how are you filling the gap?
We’ve always had a passion for cars and the automotive industry in general. Unfortunately, it’s a very slow and dominated field of business. The car manufacturers have complete control over your vehicle data and profit multiple times at the expense of you as a vehicle driver.
If the driver can choose who, when, and what data he or she can share, new business models and opportunities arise. Insurance companies can shift towards ‘pay how you drive,’ the residual value of leased cars increases significantly, a fleet is managed more efficiently, the drivers monetize their vehicle data, even the car manufacturer and dealers benefit from customer insights.
Q. Where do you aspire to reach in the automotive industry?
We want to become the ‘Robin Hood’ of vehicle data, giving back - without any extra cost - vehicle data to the driver. We want to shift the mindset of the industry towards a ‘driver first’ mentality. Instead of individual companies approaching consumers differently, we want to create an ecosystem — a community of partners in the mobility industry who benefit from a joint collaboration with the driver as a central role.
Q. What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Trust. Trusting your employees and their capabilities. Allowing them to make mistakes and learn from these mistakes. Leaders must also learn from the mistakes of their employees. With every mistake, I look at myself first; what did I do wrong so that this mistake happened. Is a business process not aligned? Was there a lack of information, so the employee didn’t know? Because no employee intentionally does anything wrong, they also want the best for the company. But if they don’t have all the information, they sometimes make a bad decision.
But with trust automatically comes ‘protection.’ Protect your team, so there is room for error, growth, and open discussion. “Like a small child coloring outside the lines: put his work on the fridge and be proud. Let them learn for themselves in the comfort of their home, relying on the process along the way.”
Q. What is, according to you, lacking among today’s leaders?
Ears! It’s like they don’t have any. Some leaders only talk and don’t listen. Especially when others see it differently, have another opinion. In response, they talk even louder to prove their point. Instead, they should listen silently so they can learn and see things from another perspective.
Q. How is LinkedCar successful in maintaining consistency all along?
The secret to long-term success is a high-quality product and an exceptional team. Everybody can make a solution, even an MVP, that is quick and dirty. But making a quality product and delivering best-in-class customer support is what will make the difference. We at LinkedCar also believe that our different view of challenges is the driving force behind our success. Our mindset to see problems as opportunities is what drives innovation within our company.
Q. How does Connected Mobility Platform help unite data?
All relevant vehicle data is scattered. There are some data at the dealer, insurer, road assistance, leasing company, and others. And then, you also have a huge amount of real-time data from the car itself (connected vehicle). Our platform unites all that data so that you get a kind of digital passport of your vehicle. This organized data is also useful for other business partners to streamline their processes and makes it possible to establish personal relationships with each driver separately.
A unified platform helps us get everything at our fingertips. Brief us about how your platform serves the purpose.
We can be described as one centralized platform to sell/manage cars, follow-up, send out marketing campaigns, contact your client, follow-up with your client, see live data of any vehicle, etc. The less time you waste on internal systems, the more time you can spend building a true and lasting relationship with your customer.
Q. How has coronavirus impacted your business, and how are you coping with the upheaval?
At one point in 2020, the words ‘automotive’ and ‘COVID-19’ could no longer be used in the same sentence. The impact of the corona crisis on the automotive industry was devastating, globally but also for us. However, we believed it emphasized the need for innovation in the industry. We believed that our idea of a centrally supported platform would add value to ultimately know the customer better and thus be able to serve them better. Of course, we have not focused on automotive for a while and made sure that our smart IoT device could also be used for e-bikes. The possibilities in the e-bike industry (especially in Europe) were highlighted during this crisis. So we adapted our solution not just to fit cars, but any vehicle with a motor and a battery. We believe our solution is ready to change the mobility data industry, and COVID-19 may just be the wake-up call the industry needs to see that too.
Q. Elucidate about your solutions and how are they revolutionary?
We have redefined the ownership of vehicle data and are giving the power back to the driver. We connect the dots to build a strong ecosystem in which the car (or bike) owner is right in the middle of everything. All this is made possible by our universal, proprietary hardware device, developed in collaboration with Karel de Grote Hogeschool. A research institution with a passion for sustainable mobility. Our solution for our business partners is built on the Salesforce platform, making it highly scalable and versatile. It can be adapted to local needs and specific internal business processes.
Meet the CEO
Mario Schraepen is the CEO of LinkedCar. He is also a serial entrepreneur who is introduced as ‘Chief Believer’ of the company. Mario has a reputation for building a strong and fun team. His experience comes from his education and MBA and his ‘personal MBAs,’ as he likes to call it: “Every time you start a business, you learn so much, it feels like you’re going through a real-life MBA.” He can easily put together different puzzle pieces and see things that can grow big long before being picked up by competitors. He himself calls it “common sense”—a typical modest character of his and his no-nonsense approach.