How I funded BotCar* using FundingBox**
*BotCar is a connected car startup I founded in 2013 (what hopefully will pay the bills in the next years)
**FundingBox is the funding portal I launched in 2012 (what paid the bills the last years)
2 years ago I launched Botcar.io, the coolest platform for connected car services . We are in Beta now and starting to deliver services to our first customers. This 2 years on journey “from dreaming to invoicing” was posible thanks to Fundingbox . Hopefully, my story helps you launch and fund your startup.
December 2013: I had never heard about “Usage Based Insurance”, “FIWARE” or cascade funding. At that time I had only one idea clear in my mind: the Internet of Things is the next big thing. A new era of opportunities and challenges. It was also my chance to reinvent myself from innovation consultant to tech entrepreneur.
I approached my friend Jorge, aka “code guru” whith whom I had 2 things in common: the dream of building something together and cars older than 8 years. We were very pissed off with the idea of giving back our cars almost for free. “What If we could park our old cars in a big city like Madrid and rent it like an apartment in Airbnb?”
Off we went: determined to create our own solution to give a second life to our old cars. Soon we realized we needed a combination of hardware and software to connect your old car to your smartphone using the standard “On Board Diagnostic” port (OBD-II) that all the vehicles manufactured since 2004 have on board. This should allow us to easily manage a real time application for car rental or car sharing.
We also realized we needed to find out: what were the latest technologies developed in the field? what is the funding available to create a prototype? At the same time, my partners in FundingBox wanted to refocus their funding portal from large corporations to startups. They asked me to become their pilot Project and I soon became their “patient zero”.
These are the steps how FundingBox helped me fund BotCar:
I signed up in Fundingbox. I edited all of the questions and fields in my profile. I was very explicit in my interest in the Internet of Things and Connected Cars. I added some technical tags to my profile like OBD, IoT, M2M and Smart Cars. Then the magic started: the home page of FundingBox was personalized and I was able to find very useful content.
First, I discovered existing products connected to our idea: a couple of startups in the US (Automatic) and Canada (Mojio) had started in 2013 doing similar stuff trying to solve the problem of “real time rental car”.
Then, I discovered some disruptive business models related with Usage Based Insurance, like Snapshot from progressive (at that time this guys had 1 million clients using an OBD device! wow!), apart of this benchmark effect, FudingBox helped me discover a new technology for an agile development of solutions for the Internet of Things: FIWARE., a set of software solutions and infrastructure promoted by a network of big European players such as Telefónica and Ericsson among with the support of the European Comission. I went to FundingBox to look for funding and I found a good benchmark to learn that we were not the only ones in the world thinking about how to disrupt the upcoming connected car market. Also, we found a good insight of a promising new technology that could help us speed our software development.
I starting using FundingBox looking for funding opportunities four our first prototype and I came out with an equity-free funding check. Where´s the catch? There is no catch. It is actually where public funding is going: to big bets on the next big thinks where the big market players are also looking for their opportunities: Internet Of Things in this case. The DISCOVERY feature of FundingBox showed me not only the products and technology relevant to us, it also showed me funding opportunities currently open to submit a proposal. That and new ones “coming soon”.
The first opportunity was a contest for prototypes in the CAMPUS PARTY of Sao Paulo using FIWARE. I read the description of the opportunity, it was clearly for us. Only 2 days till the deadline but I just clicked the APPLY button in FundingBox and started the submission process. It was only 10 pages. After 15 days we received the response: a ticket to Sao Paulo to attend the finals with some pocket money to build our first prototype! In Sao Paulo, we won the Best IoT solution prize after 2 days of hackathon: more fuel for our second prototype.
Among the forthcomming opportunities for funding one read: “EQUITY FREE TICKETS AMONG 50.000€ AND 150.000€ FOR IoT PRODUCTS USING FIWARE. 80 Million Euros will be distributed between September 2014 and December 2015. Stay tunned. Click here if you want to pre-submit your project idea“. And I did so, I submitted the same project idea I had submitted to the CAMPUS PARTY contest. Then, the FundingBox external evaluators gave me a positive pre-scoring of my project idea and they kept me updated on the lastest news of this forthcomming opportunity. 6 months later the forthcomming opportunity was more evident, by June 2014 the 80 Millions were assigned to 16 different funding instruments, suddendly we had 16 alternatives of getting funding for our project! FundingBox recommended me a couple of these 16, they did that recommendation based on my profile and the specs of the prototype,.5 months later, by November 2014, we had our first deadline, we created our company and we were selected to the final again! This time we only got to the reserve list. In the next deadline, we won!… By June 2015 we got the support we needed to fund a pilot with real customers. This February 2016 we were organizing our first eco-driving contest using our technology and getting our first clients.
FundingBox was great for us: “from patient zero to customer #1”.
These days I have been alerted about upcoming opportunities in the Big Data domain, they say that by 2017 there will be more than 10 Million euros to support experiments with Big Data in equity free tickets of 50k to 100k. Maybe, your turn this time?