Vancouver, Canada-based Mojio started out as a connected car gadget and platform that wasn’t unlike Automatic and similar services. In 2015, however, Mojio started emphasizing the B2B2C market and its platform play over its earlier B2C focus.
In the process, the company’s founder and CEO Jay Giraud quietly stepped down last October, though he already laid much of the groundwork for this change, and Mojio brought in Kenny Hawk as its new CEO. Giraud is now an entrepreneur in residence at Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley.
Back in 2015, Mojio (still under Giraud at the time) announced that it had raised an $8 million Series A round from Deutsche Telekom, Relay Ventures, Canada’s government-funded venture arm BDC, AOL co-founder Steve Case and others. It kept that round open, though, and today the company announced that it has raised an additional $7 million. Most of the new funding comes from existing investors, with BC Tech Fund via Kensington Capital being the only new investor. Mojio tells me that it kept the round open to ensure that it “had the runway to go global and the resources to grow [its] engineering talent.”
I briefly spoke to Giraud after today’s announcement. “We were very strict about carrying the cost burden of being a cellular-based device from the start, because we designed the business model to be at the intersection of the wireless carriers and the automotive OEM’s who I predicted would battle for control of the connected car,” he told me. “Our model intentionally aligned with wireless carriers so we could one day have them add Mojio’s to people’s cell phone plans and scale beyond any pure B2C angle.”
The addition of Deutsche Telekom is no coincidence then. The company is also specifically targeting wireless operators as partners and T-Mobile has already signed up in the United States. Given the continued involvement of Deutsche Telekom (and the fact that Mojio tells me it is building a team in Prague), I expect we’ll soon see more partnerships in Europe, too. Mojio was one of the first connected car gadgets to include always-on wireless connections that didn’t rely on using a cell phone in the car to connect to the wider internet, so this focus on carriers makes sense for the company, especially given that it already had a number of existing partnerships before its pivot.
Similarly, Mojio wants to use Alexa to give its platform access to Amazon’s larger personal assistant platform. “With this investment, the Alexa Fund is helping fuel the development of Mojio’s second generation Alexa Skill, which will harness the vast amount of automotive data being collected by Mojio’s open platform and bring new capabilities to Alexa,” Mojio writes in today’s announcement. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where you could ask Alexa “How much fuel does my car have?” and have the service query Mojio’s platform for the answer.
For now, Mojio continues to focus on bringing its service to cars that aren’t already connected in some form or another. While that’s probably still a sizable market today, it will inevitably shrink over time. Going forward, Mojio will also have to build partnerships with car manufacturers directly, which could be a tough sell, because the likes of Ford, VW and others are also quickly becoming software companies and will likely not want to rely on a third-party platform for their own cars.