Aftermarket Connected Car Startup Vinli Raised $6.5M

Vinli, a Dallas-based startup developing a connected car aftermarket solution, announced today to have raised a $6.5 million Series A financing led by Samsung Venture Investment Corporation.

Cox Automotive, The Westly Group, and Continental also participated in the round.

Vinli is basically an OBD dongle that connects with a number of third party apps and services and a Wi-Fi hotspot for car passengers powered by the LTE 4G network of T-Mobile.

The startup has partnered with other app developers such as Samsung Smart Things, Dash, MileIQ, Flo, Beagle, Drive, Otto, Race, SafeDrive, ParkHub, Lock&Key that have integrated their solution in the software suite.

The device has just been launched in a crowdfunding campaign (targeting $75,000) on Indiegogo. Its pre-ordering price is $99 (plus a subscription for Wi-Fi) with a shipping date expected in August 2015.

Large offering of OBD-based services for unconnected cars

Vinli comes as a close competitor to Vancouver-based Mojio that raised $8 million in March (read here) and offers a similar connected OBD dongle plus third party apps – although without Wi-Fi hotspot.

In this category one can also pinpoint Automatic (20 apps available, Bluetooth but independent cellular connection) and Zubie in the United States.

AutoMile, based out of Sweden, which received a $5 million funding in May (read here) is focussing on a smaller range of services.

Some other OBD dongles, like Mechanic Advisor (read here) and OpenbayConnect (read here) are focussing essentially on the connection of cars and drivers with auto repair shops.

CarLock (available in Europe and the United States) is focussing on location monitoring and antitheft, while Drust (France) and GoFar (Australia – read here) are targeting “better driving“, i.e. mostly gas saving.

The big question mark of this OBD market is the demand from consumers and the appetite of retail.

Venture capital firms have poured a lot of money at this burgeoning market, yet there is not a clear view if this is going to be a consumer hit.

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