Global vendor of Connected Cars services Bright Box celebrates 10 years of operations in the international automotive market this year. CEO and Co-founder Ivan Mishanin, who has been managing the company all this time, told us about the development of the beginning of the company and the search for a strategic partner, development in the post-pandemic time and 5G for the car market.
How was the idea of Bright Box born?
At the end of 2010, when I was working at Incadea, one of its customers, KIA, asked us to develop a mobile app for their dealers’ customers with a feature to enable them sign up for service and obtain marketing information from the distributor. The project was successfully completed in 2011. We thought it was a very interesting niche. Unfortunately, my partners and I did not find support within Incadea. So we decided to leave the company and engage in the development of mobile applications for car dealers and distributors, which would enable them to communicate directly with customers digitally.
Once we started developing such a marketing platform, we realized that we needed to increase user retention in the mobile app. After consumer surveys, we concluded that information about the health of the car was most in demand. To do this, we needed to collect data from the car itself. That is when the idea of the Remoto platform came about.
What’s your vision behind the company?
Bright Box, as one of the leaders and pioneers of Connected Cars services, has enormous potential. The company’s success in the international market in 30 countries of operation is proof of this. The large number of customers who have trusted the company and concluded contracts with it shows that the technology and development of Bright Box are absolutely innovative and state-of-the-art.
How did you come to the acquisition by Zurich? And how do you rate the work as part of Zurich?
At the beginning of 2017, we realized that the company was growing superfast and had already started to reach a level where we already needed the support of a stronger partner than we had before. We needed a partner with a strong brand to be able to get big contracts and provide more sophisticated solutions for automakers and dealers. In 2017, we began the process of finding such a partner. We didn’t have a final decision on what stake in the company we wanted to sell. We were absolutely open to all options. But we were looking for a more active partnership in the form of equity participation. By the end of 2017, we came to an agreement with Zurich Insurance Group.
How will the trend towards connectivity influence your business?
Connecting TCU to the car as a mandatory element will greatly increase the number of our customers. The main limiting factor was that we had to equip the car with a device that would connect it to our cloud. So the cheaper cost of distribution and connectivity inside the car will lead to the fact that companies will connect more and more cars, and on the other hand there will be hybrid models of using our technology in partnership with automakers.
What will happen to the car market in the post-Covid time?
In the post-Covid period, the market will see the development of digital technologies primarily in the area of remote services, remote car sales and remote servicing. This is because people are now beginning to get used to the fact that not all services can be obtained at the moment. Dealers can be closed, and customers, fearing Covid, want services remotely. This will increase demand, and manufacturers will be forced to adapt.
I also expect that direct sales by automakers to customers will expand more, and the Tesla business model will gain traction with other automakers.
What other promising and innovative trends do you see in the automotive market today? And outside of it?
There is no doubt that the much anticipated 5G technology right now will have a significant impact on innovation in the automotive industry. This applies in terms of transferring more information from and to the car, which will be extremely beneficial for digitization and the number of services that the customer can receive, both inside and outside the car. It will also allow automakers to better understand their customers’ needs. On the other hand, it should be understood that 5G will have an impact on the car’s communication with other infrastructure participants, thereby making the car smarter, more technologically advanced, and more integrated into the world. At the moment, a car interacts with the world unilaterally. It communicates nothing to other cars nearby. That will change for sure.