By Paula Burkes
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
NORMAN — A mobile application developed by University of Oklahoma graduate business students for the automotive industry is quickly gaining traction, after CNBC last month named it among the world’s 20 hottest startups of 2014.
Oklahoma City-based Driven Analytics (driveninfo.com) wirelessly transmits diagnostic information on vehicles — such as mileage, fluid levels and maintenance reminders — from a palm-size box that plugs into a diagnostic port located under dashboards.
Company founder and chief executive Stephen Soroosh envisions his startup becoming the No. 1 data provider for information and advertising across the automotive industry.
The app, he said, has immediate value for car dealers, from directing people back to their dealerships for service to using its GPS inventory/tracking system for streamlining monthly audits required by the banks that finance their cars.
Ultimately, Soroosh thinks the app will create the most value for car owners, who could receive diagnostics on their smart phones or via texts and emails.
“Many people are scared to go to the mechanic when maintenance-required lights come on, because they think they may be ripped off,” he said.
A 2004 OU aerospace and mechanical engineering graduate, Soroosh said he conceived Driven Analytics with business partner and custom leatherworker Eric Paysnoe, who owns an after-market business for vehicle upholstery. But concepts for the venture were further developed and refined, he said, with his peers in OU’s Professional Master of Business Administration program, including Mitchell Walser, Rachel Webb and Jake Elliott, Driven Analytics’ chief technology officer.
Soroosh said he and his fellow students took the idea through the Lean Launchpad methodology in their Strategic Venture Development class with Ron Bolen, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, and Jim Bratton, executive director of the OU Office of Technology Development. The student team subsequently won nearly $50,000 in seed money in Oklahoma New Venture Pitch, Oklahoma Governor’s Cup, Tri-State Governor’s Cup and California Dreamin’ contests.
In late October, Driven Analytics also was named one of the 50 most innovative startups by Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Professor Bolen applauded his students’ determination and success. Their efforts in his class alone included a requirement to interview at least 100 potential customers and business partners, he said.
“We felt early on that they had exceptional passion for what they were doing,” Bolen said. “And the further they got into the class, it became obvious they were on to something big.”
Soroosh said two area car dealerships have paid Driven Analytics to conduct pilot studies.
“This latest recognition by CNBC is really huge, as we have been testing our hardware and software all summer and fall and are starting to look for the right investors to help us finish proving the model and scale the business,” he said.