Dash makes every car a ‘smart car’



A new startup is reinventing the way you drive.

Dash aims to bring technology to your car, helping you become a smarter driver. It’s easy – first, plug in a small device (for as little as $10) to a port under your steering wheel (all models built after 1996 have this port, called OBD II for On-Board Diagnostic System). Connecting the device takes 5 seconds, with no wires necessary.

Then, download the Dash app on your mobile phone, where it communicates with the device via Bluetooth. Soon, you’ll be able to analyze data about your driving habits, including fuel efficiency.

“We represent everyday drivers,” said Jamyn Edis, who co-founded the company with Brian Langel in 2012. Previously, using the on-board diagnostics required a lot of wires and a specific type of computer. Dash makes it easy for all drivers to make their cars “smart cars.”

With their many years of experience in technology and digital media, Edis and Langel got to work developing an app that would make driving “smarter, safer, greener and more affordable.” Since its launch in January 2014, over 200,000 people in 175 countries have installed Dash, with tens of millions of miles being logged. According to Edis, who now serves as the CEO, the company has more users than the next five competitors combined.

Dash measures driving habits and fuel efficiency, even telling users where the cheapest gas is nearby. If the car breaks down or a check engine light comes on, Dash diagnoses the problem, suggests nearby mechanics, and provides an estimate for the cost of repair.

Dash also recently released a feature that will notify an emergency contact or the authorities in case of an “extreme event,” like an accident. Parents can use Dash to track their kids’ driving habits and ensure that the vehicle is being properly maintained. “Improving the behavior of the driver behind the wheel – that’s what we care about,” said Edis.

Additionally, Dash calculates a “driving score,” an indicator of safe driving that Edis said insurance companies may be interested in to offer discounts to good drivers. Though the company does not sell users’ data without their consent, drivers may be able to use this score in the future to validate their responsible driving habits and save money on premiums. “Technology and leveraging data can help improve people’s lives,” said Edis.

It’s easy to see how transportation agencies or fleet managers would be interested in using Dash to keep tabs on all of their vehicles, and Edis sees strong growth opportunities in these areas. The company is also working on a “Drive Smart” initiative with the Department of Transportation and has won awards from the White House, Department of Energy, and Ford.

The founders of Dash have had quite the entrepreneurial journey, with many ups and downs. Edis stressed the importance of keeping a level head through these moments. Ultimately, you have to be willing to take a risk. If you have an idea you’re passionate about and you’ve built the right team, all that’s left is to “make the jump,” he said. “Go and do it.”

Entrepreneurship is extremely rewarding, said Edis. “You’re taking your own destiny in your own hands.”

Published on Opportunity Lives