Dallas-based mobility startup Vinli recently announced it would be forming a strategic partnership with ALD Automotive, a France-based global mobility solutions company. The move will bring together ALD’s service built around smart car data, and Vinli’s cloud-connected car and data intelligence platform.
The ALD news was accompanied by a company website post from the Vinli co-founder and CEO, Mark Haidar, outlining a pivot from Vinli’s original business model of selling direct-to-consumer connected-car hardware to its new data intelligence engine product, Era.
Era uses machine learning and AI to build behavioral models and predict future events, such as when something might go wrong with a car, or in predicting the last mile. Haidar wrote that Vinli’s partners—like ALD Automotive—will use the new product to leverage on-demand services and make sure maintenance issues are minimized for vehicle owners.
A pivot to a new Era
Vinli’s original vision was to bring the smart car experience to as many people as possible. But in the post, Haidar wrote that the company saw the writing on the wall with its direct-to-consumer hardware business model, and realized that its vision would be better realized by integrating Vinli’s tech “deep within the automotive value-chain” — rather than outside of that chain.
“We had to right-size Vinli in a way that enabled us to service our new customer focus: the automotive brand.”
The way to do so would be by partnering with leading automotive brands to reach customers, instead of acquiring customers through direct channels.
“Changing our focus as an organization led to some difficult decisions on how to execute against our updated strategy,” Haidar wrote. “We had to right-size Vinli in a way that enabled us to service our new customer focus: the automotive brand. We had to let go of incredibly talented people who had helped to build our company’s foundation — and then we had to go and build the missing pieces in stealth mode.”
But what is ‘stealth mode’?
It’s when a company goes into a temporary state of secretiveness, usually to avoid alerting competitors to a pending product launch or other business initiative.
For Vinli, stealth mode involved meeting four challenges in order to create an enterprise digital experience platform: drop its hardware business and achieve hardware independence for its platform, become data-type independent to allow for third-party data, embrace customizing the platform experience for different partners, and add predictive analytics to the platform through the new Era product.
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