Last April, DriveX raised over 900,000 euros and started cooperation with Europcar, a leading car rental company in Europe. The year 2022 was particularly profitable for DriveX. Although the business is doing well, the company’s CEO, Rauno Sigur, predicts that this year will be the end for some other startups. We asked what else Sigur predicts for the ongoing year.
How would you summarize the previous year? What keywords would best describe it?
The year was undoubtedly exciting, mainly focused on market research and product development. The keyword is definitely “unexpectedness” – everything doesn’t always go as planned, and that’s normal.
We tested our new technology with several large corporations and traveled quite a bit. Unfortunately, car rental companies didn’t move at the pace we needed them to and ultimately the question arose of what value we could offer in the early innovator market phase. Whether we like it or not, the status quo in multiple sectors is enough for now and to implement innovation, the value growth needs to be not 20-30%, but 5-10 times bigger.
Everyone has great interest in innovation. They want to see and try new solutions. That’s great! But there’s only one serious problem: it’s a buzzword, and usually it’s just a waste of time for start-ups, if the TOP3 priority problems are not solved together. DriveX now has this “muscle” well trained to quickly detect such a situation.
Finally, we discovered that we had to go back to the drawing board. 80% or even more of market research and validation can be done in just a few weeks, without actually having to build anything. It’s good to acknowledge that some tough decisions were made, which have now only benefited us.
The three most important events of 2022 (whether in a personal or professional sense and why these events were significant)
- We gained a few large clients whose names cannot be disclosed yet. It was definitely a breakthrough in both sales and references, and as a result, we are reaching a positive monthly cash flow quite quickly. Our runway looks quite good at the moment and it definitely is a perk, considering the average state of startup companies today.
- The DriveX team became much more efficient and smaller, much like the warriors of Sparta. We helped those who had to leave us find new jobs in other technology companies.
- Personally, the team members focused on taking better care of themselves and being in top form every day.
The three biggest lessons of the past year
- Growth rate is mainly determined by the market, not by you. We are proud that we learned how to validate market problems quickly and in the right way. That being said, it’s much easier said than done!
- You have to trust your gut feeling, most decisions can be made quickly. For those few decisions whose results may be irreversible, take the time and involve others.
- Culture is the foundation of a company – you need to create an environment where people want to work hard and be responsible. It seems that we are doing this quite well.
Three predictions for the current year
- Product lead growth, or companies whose growth is driven by the product, will have to start using sales more. This is related to the decrease in buyers’ budgets in an uncertain economic environment, and fewer purchases are made independently.
- Many startups that have raised capital with the help of Powerpoint and luck will close their doors or, at best, merge with players in another field. Only those who are willing to roll up their sleeves will survive.
- The adoption of ChatGPT does not mean that many people will lose their jobs this year. Rather, organizations will focus on exploring how this technology can assist people, especially in the education sector. However, the launch of GPT-4 (170 trillion parameters vs today’s version GPT-3 with 175 billion) will definitely bring major changes to work arrangements.
The biggest startups of 2023
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for companies that are innovating mobility services: Bolt Drive, Mybee, AuveTech, Clevon.
DriveX is making a fully digital vehicle registration system in Estonia possible