A passionate entrepreneur, Gavin Kesten has been in the forefront of the automobile industry. He is the CEO and founder of ShipYourCarNow, a light asset provider offering a full suite of vehicle shipping services and logistics to all types of businesses, moving all types of equipment. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics.
Conception of Ship Your Car Now
The conception of Ship Your Car Now was developed from the need for transparency in the retail auto shipping industry. “Previously, I had used an auto shipping service and had an unpleasant experience. There was no transparency throughout the process. The broker I spoke to charged a fee to my credit card, which was supposed to be the total amount for the shipping. However, when the driver showed up, he demanded cash.” Notes Gavin that this unpleasant experience, coupled with his love for cars, inspired him to create ShipYourCarNow, with a business model that emphasizes full transparency to the clients.
Automotive sector – Digital Transformation
Noting that convenience is something consumers are looking to get more of, Gavin cites the example of buying a car which is akin by most as a visit to the dentist. “Throughout the pandemic, dealers needed to change the dynamic and earn a consumers business, as opposed to the other way around. Right now, car prices are super expensive, and there’s not a lot of inventory. This lack of inventory has increased the need for transport, and we’re seeing a lot of growth there since dealerships are needing to secure inventory that can be further away.”
Technology – The driving factor
Technology is the key differentiating factor for ShipYourCarNow. “We bring convenience and transparency while still offering the highest level of customer service through a SaaS platform specifically built for transport. We developed and built this platform that can quote, book, manage, and invoice the entire transport process for commercial clients. Our integrated solution allows all of our partners to provide their customers with an Amazon type shipping experience, simply choose your price and timing. That said we still do answer the phone for clients looking for a more traditional experience.”
Key Service offerings
“What sets us apart from the competition is our technology, transparency, and customer service. We are constantly looking for the next evolution of our industry. We anticipated early on that auto shoppers were going to ask for a completely online purchasing experience long before the pandemic.” The company designed an integrated shipping process to fit seamlessly within that experience, today with more than 400 installs we are leading the industry.
A self-driven leader, Gavin recommends that as a leader, one must have a passion for what you do and seek to make an impact. “This dynamic leadership is the driving force for your team’s motivation and achievement. It’s also crucial to invest time to improve your self-development. We have a growth mindset here at ShipYourCarNow, always seeking to improve anywhere we can. In addition to this, I’m big on transparency. Being honest and open with your team is essential.”I try not to fear anything. Fear is a debilitating and negative emotion, it doesn’t serve an entrepreneur well. The first step in getting over a fear is to develop a strategy to conquer it. I always seek to have a positive outlook. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions. My advice to those who are worried about failure is just to stay calm in the moment. Failure is a large part of learning. You can’t succeed without failure. Gavin suggests that one should never stop learning. “Knowledge is power. There’s never a day where I don’t try to learn something new. Be fearless in the way you approach things. Keep your purpose in perspective. Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.”
SUBSKRYB: Vehicle Ownership Reshaped for the Future
Kendell Johnson, CEO & Co-founder, SUBSKRYB
SUBSKRYB: Vehicle Ownership Reshaped for the Future
The automotive industry is currently going through a paradigm shift. As advancing technological innovations and digitization continue to emerge, the customer experience is being elevated. In a world where more people are choosing superior experiences over the obligations of vehicle ownership, a progressive change led by digital intervention is the need of the hour. To this end, the Vehicle-as-a-subscription model (or VaaS) addresses this need by allowing customers to use vehicles on a subscription basis or as short or long-term rentals. Naturally the subscription model has become the face of the car rental industry in recent times but not without major gaps; specifically, cross-branding high-end manufacture supply, user enablement and advanced technology integration. Enter Subskryb, a vehicle share technology that reshapes automobile ownership with a subscription-based approach that leverages existing assets while providing leads to similar products on the market. According to CEO and Co-founder Kendell Johnson, Subskryb is, “the Google for Vehicle-as-a-Service. We facilitate asset-sharing and user enablement for everyone including “Subskrybers”, vehicle investors, vehicle clubs and manufacturers”.
Along with Johnson, partners Giovanni Smith and Preston Martelly founded Subskryb in response to the gaps that exist in the car rental and car sharing industry. For instance, many customers have become weary of the high cost, long-term commitments and maintenance of vehicle ownership. They want the flexibility to change a vehicle when their life situation changes; and to keep up with the technology that new vehicles offer. Operating on an advanced VaaS model with secure management systems, Subskryb provides high quality vehicles combined with flexible rental options and a first-class user experience for both owners and renters.
As Johnson points out, “our subscription-based model uniquely positions us to establish long-lasting relationships making it mutually beneficial and more rewarding for everyone in the long run”. With extensive experience in revenue-generating portfolios in the VaaS and SaaS sectors, Johnson has been named “One of the Best” on multiple car-share platforms. When discussing the formula behind his consistent track record, he credits delivering an exceptional product and prioritizing the customer experience as his primary motive. Johnson sees the emergence of Subskryb as the perfect coming together of these principles – to develop a subscription vehicle-share and rental alternative that provides a member in need of a vehicle with a superior customer experience. Being an enthusiast, entrepreneur and car collector is one thing; but with investments and board seats along with important partnerships in software, car share and travel businesses, Johnson is a true evangelist in the space. Through Subskryb, he is keen on helping owners put their idle vehicles to better use through their share and earn program, as well as providing the largest car sharing marketplace so renters can secure the perfect car for all their mobility needs.
In addressing the scope of Subskryb’s unique model, Johnson points out examples of current “Subskrybers”; he states, “We have one vehicle investor who loves working with Subskryb because as a busy executive, he can just invest in the cars where he lives and reaps the rewards. The only reason he can do that is because Subskryb takes care of the entire process. He is now able to supplement a great part of his income but not his time”. Speaking on the experience as a vehicle renter, Johnson continues, “One Subskryber is a crypto investor who loves the unique selection of cars, flexible payments and the fact that we deliver cars directly to his home. His favorite feature however, is the consistent first-class customer experience to which he has grown accustomed”.
Johnson goes on to state that Subskryb’s “Quote-to-cash” subscription social platform enables asset-sharing and user enablement for all users, including the supplier of assets and customers. Additionally, their vehicle commerce proprietary system with exceptional customer service sets them apart from the existing players in the market. He adds, “Our competitive edge includes a vast array of vehicle offerings, various supply sources, the distribution of vehicles through our hubs, vehicle maintenance systems, access to financial services, partners within the international travel business, easy access to automotive service partners, the use of telematics of data, and maverick technology”.
As for the future of Subskryb, Johnson is excited about the prospects. He explains, “One of the reasons so many investors are interested in Subskryb is because we’re on the verge of creating a stable platform that integrates well with future technology including Blockchain and the Metaverse. We really focus in on profile and customer management, and obtainment; and that allows us to not only take hold of the customer journey but to evolve our methods to continuously improve the relationship with our customers. And as we work with partners to introduce new services and new products we will already have a base that’s very receptive to what we introduce to them”.
Passionate and ‘real-world tested’ as he is, Johnson is also a veteran in the software subscription business having spent almost two decades with companies such as Salesforce.com, Oracle Corporation, Pitney Bowes MapInfo, and a subscription management platform in Zuora where he was instrumental in transforming projects into major accounts. All of this while also being tasked with managing great sales teams throughout his career. With much of his career spent in technology, specifically software, while also supporting the automotive industry, Johnson constantly focuses on the people using the technology then adapts it to their future needs thereafter. This is a message Johnson carries in featured articles and events at which Subskryb participates, like The Collision Conference held in Toronto and Web Summit held in Lisbon, Portugal respectively for 2022. “Take care of all the people who make up the company. At the end, Johnson closes with, “Give back to the community that made the man standing in front of you. At Subskryb we give back one percent of our time, one percent of our use of technology, and one percent of our financial resources.”
|KEY HIGHLIGHTS||BY KENDELL JOHNSON|
|Ongoing concerns with the competition in today’s car-share market|
|Most participants are casual users with minimal experience with high expectations usually unmet||
SUBSKRYB provides a platform not just an APP. It is a social platform that facilitates asset-sharing, user enablement for all users including the “Subskryb’rs” and vehicle investors/vehicle clubs and manufacturers
|Problem scenarios are worsened because of lack of support from app providers|
|Revenue projections are hard to calculate by many in the industry because of the ‘revolving door’ of users because of the application limitations, underwhelming products and lack of managed expectations|
OptiCat and JNPSoft: Creating the industry strategic advantage
Charles Johnson, CEO, OptiCat and JNPSoft
OptiCat and JNPSoft – Creating the industry strategic advantage
Charles Johnson is a passionate automotive Leader. He is the CEO of OptiCat and JNPSoft. Charles and his teams continue to develop software programs, data and data services which assist suppliers and receivers in the creation, secure validation, delivery and receiving of high-quality catalog data destined for ‘selling positions’ in the market. OptiCat and JNPSoft are Auto Care Association standards compliant, focusing on ACES™ and PIES™ across the USA and Canada. He speaks on an array of topics in an interview. Excerpts:
Conception of the OptiCat business
The idea for OptiCat was germinated by the needs of suppliers to achieve several important objectives, or mandates, related to their catalog data. Charles shares that several drivers led to the conception of the business including providing data delivery systems that improve the speed of secure supplier data delivery to customers from up to nine months to “near real time”. Improved quality of data and simplified communication with data receivers on data issues was yet another reason. OptiCat does not own the supplier data, only the supplier does, throughout the OptiCat data system. This eliminates the challenges for suppliers that some data catalog companies might modify the data. It is fair to say that OptiCat has changed the data market for the better.
In the same context, the JNPSoft business acquisition by our majority shareholder, TecAlliance GmbH, and now an integral part of our business, gives us an expanded product portfolio that complements the needs of suppliers and data receivers in the areas related to data preparation, including product information management, vehicle data and full data management services. JNPSoft offers the most awarded automotive aftermarket PIM (product information management system) available in North America, and this along with combined offerings of TecAlliance global data products gives us the capability to serve both national and global players.
Rediscovering automotive sector
“The players in the automotive sector are now rediscovering themselves by adopting digital transformation in line with a consumer shift towards online shopping and convenience”, observes Charles. “However, with tremendous growth comes challenges, risks and opportunities that our business helps suppliers and their customers address more effectively.”
“The digital transformation has, indeed, taken hold in many markets and certainly in mobility. Most of your readers know the impact of online shopping by consumers and businesses searching for products prior to buying, either online or in person at a brick-and-mortar location. To address this, quality and quantity of information are important considerations in communication with the marketplace. The OptiCatOnLine.com Data Research Catalog provides a reference library of the most current and complete data for use in the marketplace”, adds Charles.
“The addition of JNPSoft allows companies to offload the responsibility of data management to our company and gain the attractive benefit of utilizing “world class” data capabilities without the challenge of keeping-up with the latest technical, human, and data compatibility developments, all at a lower cost”.
For Charles, “Leadership is providing an environment in which things get done… and the right things.” He continues, “given this, we start with developing common values that center on our customers, our people, our communities, and our performance, and then we “walk the talk”. Collaboration is an important part of this process, as one person does not, and should not, have all the answers. We want to accumulate all the best ideas to provide a solid foundation, and this also applies to consideration of strategy for the future.”
Charles provides several ideas for success, “Preparation, resilience, lifelong learning, seeking first to understand and then be understood (reference author Stephen Covey), sit in “lots of chairs” to gain experience, find good mentors and move away from bad ones as soon as possible, and of course bring your family along for the ride as you will need them to be with you along the way!”
KNAVE: Offering complete electric vehicle subletting solution
Edouard Vaujour, CEO, KNAVE
KNAVE: Offering complete electric vehicle subletting solution
Edouard Vaujour is a passionate entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Knave, a French company that enables the implementation of all-term rental services (short, medium, long) on mobility assets in distribution networks, companies and municipalities. The system couples stock financing, carried by Knave, with tools for using this stock – mobile rental applications, usage insurance, customer hotline, etc. – developed and operated by Knave.
Conception of KNAVE
Edouard says that many external factors are pushing the automotive market into a rapid transition to electric vehicles, which threatens its current dealerships’ model: margins are essentially made up of workshop revenues. Electric vehicles require very little maintenance, so the networks anticipate a reduction in this revenue share of 30% to 60%.
“The physical traffic of the networks is decreasing sharply due to the increase in new car prices, increasing the break-even point linked to the operation of empty showrooms. Optimization of surfaces and employees’ time is becoming a vital issue.” The new market entrants are taking the lion’s share of the new electrical market thanks to a production and distribution model perfectly designed for current demand (without transition or legacy costs to manage). These players have invested heavily in digital by simplifying the online customer journey to the extreme. “So, it has become very clear that integration of new profitable services and digital investment are the two essential elements for the sustainability of retail networks.”
Digital transformation – the way ahead
The difficulty with online sales is that it remains a niche market – with a maximum of 20% of product sold all products combined. Over 80% of sales are made in physical networks, so automakers must include very fragmented distribution networks into their digital strategy, which is very difficult to do.
The only way to address both consumers and dealerships’ needs is to bring a mass-market solution to the dealerships, opines Edouard. There is such a mass-market service that escapes the networks: short-term rental. For a few years now, manufacturers have been trying to reappropriate this service, but the projects have come up against the reluctance of distributors: the projects are approached as cost centers and not profit centers.
Renting centers in dealerships can only be cost centers at the moment for reasons like: (i) set up and maintenance costs of digital renting solutions, (ii) inventory financing and (iii) insurance for renting operations which are very hard to obtain and costly on local level.
KNAVE allows the network to transform this cost center into a profit center by taking ownership of all inventory and thus mutualizing insurance, technology and operation costs on a very large scale. The integration of the KNAVE system by manufacturers into their distribution networks at no cost allows them to devote the entire program budget to customer acquisition campaigns. The KNAVE brick is the hook to outbid the digital customer journey offer: the long-term trial and the multimodal mobility harmonized in all territories.
I believe freedom should be the general rule and any constraint an exception.
Edouard urges start-ups should stop over-estimating SaaS business models capacity in automotive physical distribution networks. Dealerships have a well-earned reputation of being one of the hardest networks to penetrate, and they are very reluctant to any change. A SaaS model alone cannot succeed without physical presence. “In the automotive industry, the winners of the coming years are going to be the ones with ‘boots on the ground’. Even the current online pure players have declared their intention to open dealerships network throughout the world and have started deploying heavy capex on local workforce.”
The Success Mantra
“Owning the stock is owning the market. It is the hardest thing to do and to have in automotive, but everything derives from owning the asset: user data, supply management, control over the new and secondhand markets.”
KNAVE is the only solution positioned as the ‘gateway’ to the brand’s universe. Thanks to its KYC, its financing capacity and its digital solution, the company can seamlessly link the different stages of the customer’s life: product discovery through short-term use, leasing, sales and distribution of insurance to individuals. It is the first time in the automotive industry that an independent player has been able to set this up and deploy it with the major worldwide players.