Brazil’s fleet management startup Cobli announced on Wednesday a $35 million Series B round led by SoftBank, which is in an investment spree across the region. The round also included Qualcomm Ventures and funds NXTP Ventures, Fifth Wall, and Valor Capital, which were already investors in the company.
Rodrigo Mourad, Cobli’s CEO, was working at Bain & Company‘s strategy consulting firm when he met American Parker Treacy, who had an auto financing company for foreigners in Boston. The city is the base of innovative companies in the IoT (intelligence of things) sector for fleets, where technologies are born in the colleges’ backyards.
When Parker came to Brazil, the pair thought of applying data from the intelligence of things to optimize decisions in the area of mobility. “It’s as if 50 years ago we said that if we put computers in companies, they could be better. In a superficial comparison, we did a similar thing with vehicles,” Mourad tells LABS.
Seeking to bring fleet intelligence to add more efficiency for companies, the duo started Cobli in March 2017. The startup proposes to explore vehicle data to improve, for example, insurance pricing. Just as for individuals, in Brazil, insurance for company fleets takes into account socio-economic data, such as gender, location, and age of the driver, for product pricing.
“Obviously, this data doesn’t correspond to the whole risk because you still don’t know how people are driving and what’s happening [behind the wheel, on the road]. So a lot of Cobli’s idea is to use data to improve the efficiency of companies and be able to offer better products for them,” he says.
Brazil is a great market for fleet operations, there are 10 million commercial vehicles distributed around the country, serving various types of industries. Cobli has today 3,000 client companies, from flower farmers and pastry shops to big transportation companies and car rentals.
How does Cobli work?
Cobli puts sensors in vehicles that send data to Amazon Web Services‘ cloud in real-time. Like a GPS or an accelerometer, the sensor tells the driver how they’re driving, if they’re going too fast if they’re turning corners. Cobli reads this information and connects with Google to know how the traffic is, checking if there is a route that makes more sense or not, or to identify the place where the vehicle is if it is a gas station, a repair shop, or the driver’s home.
“Fuel, for fleet, is a very big expense. We now have some partnerships with fuel management companies like Sodexo. These partners have data on how much fuel costs at each of the stations because they are relating to multiple cards all the time,” he explains. This way, Cobli is also able to determine the best routes to save fuel.
With the new round, Mourad wants to invest in data processing and technology research and development. This year alone, the startup has set aside more than BRL 20 million for R&D and the number for next year should be even higher with SoftBank’s contribution.
“In Brazil, only 15% of commercial vehicles have some type of onboard technology. In the U.S., this percentage is 50%. This is an inevitable future. We are not going back to pen and paper”, he said.
Cobli’s initial plan was to make the venture capital funding only in 2022, but the company scaled fast – more than 100% per year, although it does not disclose the exact number of turnover – and already has more than one billion kilometers driven within the platform.