Q&A With Gary Tucker, The CEO Of Best Buy-Backed Connected Car Startup Zubie

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Gary Tucker is the CEO Of Best Buy-backed connected car startup Zubie.


 

What is Zubie?

Zubie is an end to end connected car platform. Utilizing an OBD2 dongle, cellular data, and cloud services, we aggregate and analyze data in mobile and web apps. Our entry level fleet management product provides location, diagnostics, safety/performance, and trip information.
 

Who uses/buys Zubie?

Zubie is available for both the enterprise and individual consumers. ‘Light vehicle’ fleets of cars, vans, and trucks with typically between between 150-500 vehicles, though our largest customer is upwards of 5,000.

We are finding those small businesses who typically haven’t had access to the connected car stack is very receptive to our simple and affordable model.

Zubie’s products are also available for purchase by individuals like you and I, through bestbuy.com, amazon.com, etc.

What are Zubie’s roots?

Best Buy was once developing their own home and auto IoT platforms in house, but in 2012 decided to push them out. Zubie then became a joint venture between Best Buy and Open Air Equity Partners, led by Ron LeMAy, former CEO of Sprint Mobile.

Are there other shareholders/owners to date?

Yes. Some of our other investors include Nokia, BP Castrol, Magna, and Melody Capital.

How much capitalization has Zubie reached?

Not disclosed.

When and how did you get involved with Zubie?

I am a lifelong auto industry veteran, having worked in retail, finance, and most recently before joining Zubie in February of 2017, was operating DealerRater.com in Boston.

Where is Zubie located?

We are headquartered here in Bloomington, where our technology team is located. Our sales and fulfillment team is in Charleston, South Carolina. Overall, we have about 30 employees evenly split between both locations + a few remote.

Do you have any industry partnerships?

We have an integration partnership with RepairPal, the west coast company that maintains a virtual network of independent repair shops. What we’re able to do with them is use our technology to meet customers at the intersection of a car with a problem and a shop that can fix it.

More recently, we partnered with Xirgo Technologies. We used to design, manufacture, and manage our own hardware — but through this partnership we can scale our hardware much faster by reaching into their parts bin and focusing on our software side of the business.

How does Zubie compare and contrast to similar solutions in the market?

From a pricing standpoint, we are dramatically less expensive that the market has been in the past. We also offer a very low barrier to entry, as our device is self-installed just like plugging in a USB. Between those two, access is our key differentiator. More than ⅔ of the customers we are onboarding today have no previous connected car system in place.

Approximately how many customers does Zubie have overall right now?

We have deployed over 200,000 devices since inception across all 50 states.

Are you deployed at all in Europe?

We have done some pilots there and are well positioned, though we do not have any commercial agreements currently in place.

In dollars and cents, what do you see as the big picture market potential for Zubie?

We model this all the time, right? There are nearly 200 million vehicles driving around North America not connected to the cloud. In our core target segment of small fleet vehicles, that’s probably about 15-20m vehicles, which just a share of that for us would be big business.

How do you sell Zubie?

We generate inbound leads and have an internal sales and marketing staff. Our customers receive a range of options, some customers pay annually and others pay monthly. We are experiencing over 85% renewal rate.

What is Zubie’s top line annual revenue?

Like our total capitalization, we don’t disclose this figure.

As a venture-backed company, what does an exit event for Zubie look like?

When you look at the connected car space, it’s so broad. There’s a target market exit option in the fleet management space, but also a connected vehicle exit option to a larger company that needs a platform like Zubie to serve their million plus fleets. Our opportunity now is to continue to grow the business and open up a breadth of options.

Is there anything that you would like to add in closing?

I think this is a good high level overview of Zubie, thank you.

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