How does Zubie make money?

  • Zubie is a connected-car app and service for business and rental vehicle fleets. The app was founded in 2012 as a joint venture between retailer Best Buy and mobile-centric venture firm OpenAir Equity Partners
  • Zubie makes money via Zubie Asset Trak, a fleet and equipment management platform for almost any type of vehicle that is connected to a locational device smaller than a pack of playing cards.
  • Zubie makes money by selling various plans under the Zubie Rental Connect and Zubie Fleet Connect products, where the customer can receive a discount on a monthly subscription by committing to a two or three-year payment schedule. It is likely the company also makes money in a partnership with insurance companies to roll out usage-based insurance programs.

Origin story

Zubie is a connected-car app and service for business and rental vehicle fleets. The app was founded in 2012 as a joint venture between retailer Best Buy and mobile-centric venture firm OpenAir Equity Partners.

Zubie is ostensibly the brainchild of Best Buy, who believed in the idea of a connected car at a time when the internet was transitioning from desktop to mobile and it seemed that almost every other device had internet connectivity as standard. The company tried to develop the technology and IP behind Zubie but failed for various reasons, with a lack of funding cited as one reason. 

Venture capitalist Tim Kelly then got involved in the project through his connection with OpenAir Equity Partners, with both companies pitching the thesis of a connected car to the investor in the hopes that he would develop the technology and take the company forward. Sold on the idea, Kelly was ultimately appointed CEO.

Zubie had to raise a substantial sum of money in developing a prototype. This process was difficult to initially, but after 20 or 30 meetings with venture capital firms, the company secured a large commitment from BP Ventures and home cable provider Comporium. BP was particularly interested in how automotive data could be used to time engine oil changes and better understand customer demographics across its numerous gas stations.

Zubie manufactures a hardware dongle that allows customers and businesses to add their vehicles to the Internet of Things (IoT). The dongle can provide basic information detailing how long a trip took or the amount of fuel used. However, it can also track driving habits, mapping areas where the driver engaged in rapid acceleration, hard braking, and speeding. If that wasn’t enough, Zubie also analyses important vehicle diagnostics and can identify potential engine problems ahead of time.

In more recent years, the Zubie product has expanded into providing custom telematics and data services for insurance carriers, vehicle rental fleets and automotive dealerships, service centers, and manufacturers. Revenue is estimated at $3.6 million per year, with some of the company’s major clients including Hertz, Budget, Toyota, Nissan, and Avis.

Zubie revenue generation

Zubie makes money by selling three core products: Zubie Asset Trak, Zubie Rental Connect, and Zubie Fleet Connect. The company also likely makes money from partnerships with insurance companies.

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Zubie Asset Trak

Zubie Asset Trak is a fleet and equipment management platform for a range of vehicles, including fork trucks, generators, packers, skid steers, and even cleaning equipment.

Asset Trak can recover lost or stolen assets, provide device tamper alerts, and send notifications when a vehicle moves with motion monitoring and custom geofences.

The device itself, which costs $99, is a rechargeable battery-powered device smaller than a deck of playing cards.

There are three funding options here based on the length of annual commitment:

  1. One-year subscription ($16/month or $175/year).
  2. Two-year subscription ($15/month or $162.50/year).
  3. Three-year subscription ($14/month or $152/year).

For either option, there is a 30-day free trial.

Zubie Rental Connect

Zubie Rental Connect is a car rental fleet management platform helping companies manage their inventory intelligently and efficiently.

Here, there are two plans:

  1. Standard – with features such as live map, geofence alerts, trip history, real-time fuel and odometer readings, inventory insight reports, and engine and battery alerts.
  2. Premium – with all Standard features plus device tampering alerts, automated check-in, hazardous driving alerts, and a dashcam for shuttle buses.

Prices for both plans are available on request. It can be assumed prices depend on the number of vehicles in a customer’s rental fleet.

Zubie Fleet Connect

Zubie Fleet Connect helps a business protect and optimize its vehicle fleet with a single device connected to the company’s software platform. The solution is ideal for vehicles in the construction, home services, and transportation industries.

There are three plans available here, with businesses able to receive a discount on their monthly bill if they commit to two or three years:

  1. Light ($18/month) – for easy GPS tracking with real-time location updates provided every 5 minutes and trip history logs retained for 6 months.
  2. Standard ($22/month) – a driver and vehicle performance product with location updates every 3 minutes and trip history logs retained for 13 months. Standard users can also purchase a dashcam for $399 plus $10/month.
  3. Premium ($27/month) – a comprehensive fleet management system with locational updates provided in less than 60-second intervals and trip history logs retained for 2 years. Premium users have access to the Zubie API which allows them to synchronize fleet assets or incorporate trip or event data into their business workflows.

Insurance company partnerships

Zubie also helps insurance companies roll out usage-based insurance (UBI) programs through simple and efficient telematics deployment. These programs feature high-quality data, reliable cell coverage, and scalable cloud analytics. 

Businesses can also acquire or retain customers via branded devices and a fully customizable user experience across mobile, web, and email. Perhaps most importantly, Zubie UBI programs help a business engage with its clients to make driving easier and safer. 

Though not officially disclosed, it can be assumed Zubie charges for this deployment service.

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