Rogers deal brings Mojio’s connected car tech to Canadian market

A Vancouver tech company that connects cars to the Internet is entering the Canadian market for the first time after striking a deal with telecom giant Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B).

“After launching in the U.S. with T-Mobile (Nasdaq:TMUS) and Europe with Deutsche Telekom, it’s nice to finally have our fellow Canadians able to buy the product in Canada,” Mojio CEO Kenny Hawk told Business In Vancouver.

Mojio’s platform uses ZTE-built devices that plug into a car’s onboard diagnostic port to send encrypted data to Mojio’s cloud over 4G LTE.

Vehicles previously lacking Internet capabilities are able to connect instantly.

For example, users would be able to track the driving habits of their teenage children, measure the performance of the vehicle or use an app to find out why the check-engine light is on.

“We’re excited to be the first carrier to introduce this kind of device to Canadians. Now, families can have peace of mind about their car maintenance and safety and can connect to the things and people they love worry-free,” Rogers vice-president Leroy Williams said in a statement.

Rogers is selling the device for $99 on a two-year term, while users can add the product to their monthly plans for $15 a month.

Outside Canada, Hawk said sales have been brisk since they began offering the technology at T-Mobile US’s 4,000 retail shops late last year.

“T-Mobile has increased their forecast three times since we launched. The hardware partner on the project has barely been able to keep up with supply,” Hawk said.

The company has secured 300,000 subscribers over the last seven months and Hawk said he expects to hit the 750,000 mark by the end of 2017.

“We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how fast it’s taken off.”

He added that the company also didn’t realize how popular the technology would prove to be for small businesses that want their vehicle fleets to be connected to the Internet.

“We really had no idea there would be small business interest in this. And what we found was that industrial suite applications are so expensive and so cumbersome, they really weren’t a fit for small businesses,” Hawk said, adding Mojio has since updated its platform so that it could handle up to 24 vehicles under one user.

Mojio has been grabbing the attention of investors in both Canada and the U.S.

The government-backed B.C. Tech Fund invested between $1 million and $3 million in the company last year, Kensington Capital managing director Rick Nathan told Business in Vancouver in November 2016.

And a year earlier, Amazon’s Alexa Fund invested an undisclosed sum in Mojio as part of an effort to expand its Alexa digital assistant beyond customers’ homes. The Alexa service is best known for responding to voice commands when paired with the Amazon Echo device.