Stay focused on the right question

Steve Soroosh and Jake Elliott, Driven Analytics, Inc.

The genesis of our company, Driven Analytics, occurred back in 2013. And it’s a great story about how finding the right question to guide your company’s mission is key, regardless of what happens on the way.

Back in 2013, Steve owned and operated a small car dealership. He was a mechanical engineer with an MBA, but he was slinging $5,000 cars. You can imagine his mom wasn’t too happy with that.

But an experience he had while running that dealership is what eventually led to Driven Analytics. He bought a Mini Cooper at an auction, brought it back to the dealership, and immediately discovered the transmission was shot.

Steve paid $5,000 for the car and the transmission was going to cost an additional $5,000. He knew he would be lucky if he could sell it for $10,000, so the deal was already upside down. He decided to do some research.

About 50 hours into his research, Steve finally found a specialist in Michigan who worked on that specific transmission. Steve called the guy up and described the problem.

“Okay,” the guy responded, “so the transmission slips only when the car is warmed up?”

“That’s right,” Steve responded.

“Great,” the guy replied. “There’s a 95% chance that’s the valve body. I can send you a remanufactured valve body for $600, then you can get someone to install it for about $300.”

Well, that was significantly less than $5,000, so Steve took him up on the offer. It worked, he sold the car, the lady that bought it was happy, and the dealership made money.

But it took 50 hours of research! Most people wouldn’t have invested that much time in researching the issue.

Turns out, that’s a really common problem in the Mini Cooper. So everyone that has a Mini Cooper with a slipping transmission really needs to know about that guy in Michigan. And if you’re that guy in Michigan, wouldn’t you want to know any time someone had that problem? You could save them a few thousand dollars, and make some money in the process.

So we began to ask ourselves, “What can we do to leverage technology, create a consumer connection for the businesses, and modernize the customer interaction for the customers?”

And finding that question was the key. Of course, in our case, that was just the beginning of our journey. Over the next several years we went through multiple products, target markets, and approaches. But through that entire time, we stayed focused on answering that question.

So, what’s your question?

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