The Innovators: Mojio is connecting cars like never before

Its Internet of Things systems can catch problems before you're left stuck at the curb.

Credit: Mojio

Mojio has partnered with telecom companies to provide connected car systems to any vehicle

Its Internet of Things systems can catch problems before you’re left stuck at the curb

As Internet-connected cars go mainstream, Mojio plans to be in the driver’s seat. Thanks to alliances with customers like Telus Corp., Deutsche Telekom and its U.S. subsidiary T-Mobile–all three are investors, too–the Vancouver company now has more than 1.2 million vehicles on its platform. That’s a huge leap from a couple of thousand in 2015, when CEO Kenny Hawk took charge of Mojio, founded three years earlier by Jay Giraud. Hawk, who’s based in Silicon Valley, led the shift from a direct-to-consumer model to helping mobile operators launch an Internet of Things business in people’s cars.

The connected car has come a long way since its mid-1990s debut with General Motors Co.’s OnStar program–whose former director, Alan Messer, is now Mojio’s CTO. That’s partly because automakers have educated consumers, explains Hawk, citing the 2016 Super Bowl ad showing comedian Kevin Hart tracking his daughter on a date. The cost of purchasing a top-tier on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) device is falling as well, from $200 to the $50 range over the next 18 months, he says. Mojio analyzes the data it gathers from cars to tell drivers things like what that check-engine light actually means or where they can buy the cheapest and most convenient gas. The company, half of whose 80 staff work in Vancouver, just patented a method to gauge when tires need replacing. “This is taking a lot of the guesswork out of maintaining and running your car,” Hawk says.

Returning to its B2B origins, Mojio recently launched a fleet management product for small businesses. It took seventh place in the 2020 edition of Deloitte’s national Technology Fast 50 ranking, with 3,612-percent revenue growth over the past four years. As for its handful of venture-backed rivals, “they’re all gone or about to be gone or struggling,” Hawk says. “Now we’re bumping up against the big beasts”–like Samsung-owned Harman, which Mojio beat for Deutsche Telekom and other big accounts, he adds.

Hawk thinks the connected car will fuel the rise of autonomous vehicles by providing much-needed real-world data for their algorithms and predictive maintenance to catch problems before they happen. And speaking of big beasts, he’s glad that Mojio backer’s Ring division has entered the space with car alarm and dashcam products. “It says that we’re heading more toward the mainstream adoption of this and that we’re still early in the game.”