Drake Bauer is the Co-founder of VehicleGenius, a startup focused on helping rental car operators communicate with customers and manage their fleet in a digital and elegant solution.
This isn’t Drake’s first rodeo, either; he has a pedigree in successful startups in the mobility industry, so I’m confident VehicleGenius will be one to watch over the next couple of years as they grow. Speaking of rodeos… Drake is an Iowa local, and when he isn’t working, he spends time renovating his ranch house and savagely negotiating with Des Moines butchers to get the best cut of meat for his next cooking project. In the winter months, Drake leaves the corn and hogs of Iowa behind and opts for a caipirinha and some churrasco down at his place in Brazil.
What is something you are working on right now?
Outside of everything related to a startup at our early stage, our team focuses on deeper integrations with our service and data providers. There is still a manual component to us scheduling certain maintenance items for our customers — bringing our technology to larger fleets will require automating several of these tasks.
We’re also excited Tesla has finally publicised their developer docs — we’re experimenting with a team member’s Model 3 to learn more about what’s possible here.
What is something you cannot live without in your job?
An efficient work-from-home setup. Our team is currently distributed across North America, making our team’s home office and setup on the road really important. For me, a portable monitor makes any desk feel like home while travelling.
What is your dream vehicle?
Tough question for a car enthusiast — preferably, this question comes with a few parameters like budget and use case. I’m passionate about manual transmission cars with 10/12 cylinder, naturally aspirated engines. It’s really all about the sound of the exhaust for me.
I’d love to get back into an E60 M5, but this time in a saloon configuration with the SMG swapped for a 6-speed. Dream car, though? A late-model Murcielago with the manual would be it for me.
What is something you are proud of in your work?
Too much! I feel blessed to have done so much in my short time here. From a business perspective, our team’s progress at VehicleGenius makes me very proud.
What is the hardest part about doing what you do?
Making sure we are in lockstep with our customer’s current goals and future plans. Understanding the preferred cadences for their renters and the maintenance procedures and then translating this into our product is the challenge we’ve accepted. However, nonetheless, it is still a challenge.
Fleet managers have a tough job. What are you guys doing to make their life easier?
Automating the workflows required of rental fleet managers to make supporting their customers and scheduling service easier is what we do every day at VehicleGenius. The data already exists; we make it useful for their operations.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the rental or fleet industry?
From our perspective, we are meeting the needs of a changing consumer demographic. Rental car UX of the past is not designed for a digitally native generation who prefers to handle the entire experience from their phone while avoiding the need to interact with an agent or a 1-800 number.
What do you think the rental or fleet industry will look like 10 years from now?
Early adoption from companies like Turo and ZipCar has transformed the way people view renting a car. We think contactless renting and car sharing will become the norm even for large enterprises like Hertz, Avis, Sixt, etc.
If you think you have what it takes to be interviewed for our next In the Driver’s Seat or if you have suggestions on who we should talk to, get in touch with us.