Smartcar: Driving a New Standard for Automobiles

by Forest Baskett, PhDMar 14, 2018

It may come as no surprise that we at NEA are big fans of APIs (see MuleSoft and Plaid examples). APIs have become the fundamental backbone of every business as the technology helps cut costs, lower barriers to entry, and brings new products to market faster. Over the past decade we’ve witnessed an explosion of connected devices – from phones to homes and everything else in between – creating a fertile ground for app development. At NEA, we've been searching for the opportunity to invest in the transformation of the automotive industry. It was only a matter of time until we met Smartcar, the connected car API for app developers.

Embedded telematics are not only becoming a standard feature in vehicles: connectivity is becoming a necessity in the automotive world. It enables vehicles to communicate to the outside world. Even if autonomy turns out to be a long way off, vehicles are already becoming defined by a wealth of software-driven features and functions. Smartcar’s platform enables developers to bring innovative apps and services to cars to both enhance and simplify our daily. For example: A father could order groceries on his mobile device and have the delivery dropped off in his car’s trunk while at work. Perhaps, a college student could share a digital key for their car with a roommate. There are endless possibilities when we think about the variety of service that will pour out of the creative minds of developers.

Unfortunately, there are immense barriers for developers hoping to bring those creative ideas to market. Developing connected service apps for vehicles is a painstaking process. The idea of documented open APIs is not yet ubiquitous in the automotive world. Every vehicle make and model has a unique set of propriety fragmented APIs, impeding a quick and effective integration for developers. These large impositions to entry are holding back an entire ecosystem of automotive apps and services. What’s needed is a standard platform, a universal set of APIs to let developers connect their products to any vehicle.

Enter Smartcar. Smartcar removes these pain points for developers by bringing effortless simplicity to developers. Whether a developer needs to add functionality into their product to locate a car, read its tire pressure, monitor the speed, unlock the doors, or start the engine – Smartcar’s platform makes these capabilities quickly and easily available to any app or service.

Software proliferates when there are standards for it. Standards open the door to options and opportunity, making innovation accessible and frictionless. So, when we learned what Sahas and Sanketh Katta and their team were up to, we jumped at the opportunity to partner with Smartcar to create a new standard for automobiles that’s actually anything but [standard].

Smartcar aligns with our automotive investing ethos, as it enables developers of all sizes to leverage connected car APIs securely. Smartcar has a team of passionate individuals aligned with a common mission to empower developers and support OEMs as they transform into mobility companies. The connected car services market has grown to over $50 billion and we’re excited to partner with a company that's poised to be a leading force in the space.

*Recent Announcement: Smartcar Announces $10M Series A Funding from NEA and a16z