By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2015 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
There are 253 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads. The average age of those cars is 11.4 years.
Most of us intend to keep our vehicles in good operating condition, and manufacturers have built in more and more monitoring systems to help.
Cars and trucks continuously take readings from their systems, and modern automobiles are designed to present indications and warnings when something is going wrong. But for the average car owner, those indications aren’t always easy to interpret.
Now Oklahoma startup Driven Analytics is taking automotive diagnostics a giant step further by using all that data to provide car owners real-time information specific to their vehicle usage.
“Some people have a trusted mechanic, but a lot of people don’t,” founder Steve Soroosh said. “By monitoring critical systems and understanding the way that individual vehicles are driven, Driven Analytics can become the trusted third-party source of information to car owners everywhere.”
Soroosh, an OU graduate in aerospace and mechanical engineering, cut his teeth on cars. He was born in Michigan. His dad was in the automotive industry. He won a design competition in high school, and that led to four internships with Ford. That preceeded a year with Honda R&D of America — all while he was an undergrad.
After graduation, he worked in telemetry and data collection for National Instruments in Austin, Texas. Then he joined an automotive consulting firm on the West Coast that solved difficult automotive problems, from assignments with the Department of Defense to helping design the Disneyland Cars ride.
When Soroosh returned to earn his MBA at OU, he brought ideas about using data collected from cars to create value for vehicle drivers and dealerships.
“We gained tremendous insight from using the Lean Launchpad methodology from OU,” he said. “We learned to get out of the building and talk to customers — once you talk to 100, talk to 100 more so that you really understand their true pains and needs.”
Soroosh could have started Driven Analytics in Michigan where they know cars like we know oil. Or he could have founded it in Austin or in Silicon Valley where high tech is in the DNA. Instead, he picked Oklahoma. He learned to love the state when he went to OU.
“This is a place where people are different,” Soroosh said. ”There’s a value system. Once I was here at OU, I fell in love with it more and more. I felt that if I could start my company here that would be best.”
i2E is working with several entrepreneurs and startups — Spiers New Technologies Inc., Exaptive and Tailwind — for example, which, like Soroosh, picked Oklahoma over Texas or the coasts.
There’s already something in the Sooner DNA that attracts. We need to continue to build out a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that makes our state irresistible to entrepreneurs.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at [email protected].