December 13, 2013

Charleston-Area Tech Firm With 'Connected Car' Device Raises $10 Million

John McDermott  /  Post and Courier

A local mobile technology business with a device that connects car dashboards to smartphones has raised $10 million to accelerate its growth. That's on top of $8 million that Sullivan's Island-based Zubie pulled down from investors over the summer.

Three backers contributed to the latest round of funding: Castrol innoVentures, part of global lubricants giant Castrol; communications firm Comporium Inc., and previous Zubie investor OpenAir Equity Partners.

"Our investment in Zubie reflects our ongoing interest in technologies that have significant potential to offer a predictive, timely, contextual, convenient and simple capability to the mobile consumer of the future," said Angel Gambino, a general manager at Castrol innoVentures.

Formerly known as GreenLight Connectivity Solutions, Zubie was spun out of retail giant Best Buy and has offices locally and in Minneapolis. It's now led by Sullivan's Island resident Tim Kelly, a former senior executive at Sprint's wireless unit.

Kelly has said Zubie wants to grow its business in the Charleston area.

The company's Zubie Key device has been on the market for several months. It plugs into a car's diagnostics port and uses wireless technology to dispatch reports to iPhones and Android-based devices equipped with the Zubie app. Among other functions, it's designed to detect engine trouble, track a vehicle's location, monitor driving habits and estimate repair bills.

It also sends alerts when a car is turned off for a long period of time.

A year of service, including the plug-in tool, is about $100. It's available through, Best and

While it has some competition, Zubie appears to be the furthest along, according to industry reports. The company has said that the mainstream market for the so-called fully connected car has been barely tapped.

Part of Zubie's strategy is to seek tie-ins with other industries. For example, auto insurers are interested in using the analytics to offer discounts and other incentives to safe drivers who opt in and volunteer their information. Also, dealerships could use the data to calculate more precise values for the used cars they buy and sell.

"Zubie is perfectly poised to be the point of connection where consumers can save time and money and providers can better understand consumers' needs and provide compelling offers," Kelly said in statement Thursday.