Connected vehicle and fleet management technology company Azuga is looking to grow its presence in the telematics space and beyond now that Sumeru Equity Partners (SEP) has acquired a controlling interest in the company. SEP — which specializes in growing medium-sized tech companies — also made a "significant" investment to help Azuga accelerate its product innovation.
The transaction closed in March, and terms were not disclosed. Azuga CEO and founder Ananth Rani will remain in his role at the company, also retaining his shares in it. But right away, Azuga is ramping up its operations and has an eye out for new locations to support its growth strategy.
"Straightaway we'll be looking to expand — plenty of interviews with salespeople, engineering, development, customer success/support [personnel]," Rani told Fleet Owner. "That's just the immediate process. We're also scouting for new offices in the U.S., expanding current offices and things like that."
Azuga provides connected vehicle, fleet and telematics software and solutions for commercial fleets, government agencies, insurance companies and automotive industry suppliers with its platforms that are now in use by some 3,000 customers. Founded in 2012, it's a young company, and Rani notes the fleet management space is highly competitive.
But Azuga has managed to gain ground and attract fleets — sometimes large ones — to its products. Rani points to the company's focus on meaningful driver rewards and fostering healthy competition in its fleet management platform rather than a "gotcha" culture of driver behavior monitoring. The key in such an approach is to keep drivers engaged in gamification for the long term.
This format has played well for Azuga, and Rani says he believes it helped land its first big customer, Atlanta-based lease-to-own retailer Aaron's Inc.
Azuga claims its fleet management platform allows customers "to turn data about vehicle usage and driver behavior into intelligence that improves operations and safety while also reducing costs and risk for fleet operators" and notes that it "has invested significantly in product innovation, market coverage and its employee base." The fleet solution is Azuga's flagship product, but Rani explains that the company is also looking to grow its other products like toll/usage-based vehicle tax management and a fleet assessment tool for commercial insurance companies.
"With Sumeru's investment, we can broaden the platform and all these things," Rani says.
Meanwhile, Azuga continues its partnership with Danlaw Inc., which is essentially the hardware partner in the Azuga fleet management equation and provides the secure connectivity devices that plug into vehicles. In addition to continuing as a large shareholder in Azuga, Danlaw will remain a key supplier and strategic partner.
Rani contends that Azuga's partnership with SEP and Danlaw "will have a considerably positive impact on our product innovation strategy, customer support and employee base."
As a part of its investment, SEP principals Paul Mercadante, Sanjeet Mitra and Mark Haller will join the Azuga board of directors.
"The fleet management and telematics technology market is undergoing a significant transition as the shift from asset-tracking solutions to complex, sophisticated platforms allows fleet operators to use real-time data to influence safety, operations and performance," stated Mercadante and Haller. "From its founding, Azuga has differentiated itself by taking on a customer-first mentality and building a modern platform with extensive functionality that mutually benefits fleet operators and vehicle drivers alike."