Jimmy Douglas

October 3, 2023
Jimmy Douglas and Kyle Mountsier sit down to chat at ASOTU CON 2023
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Jimmy Douglas is the CEO at Plug.

Thanks to Effectv for making ASOTU CON Sessions possible!

Paul Daly: 0:02You're listening to a soda con sessions by effective live from a soda con 2023.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:10

All right, welcome to another episode of soda con sessions sponsored by effective. I'm sitting here with my recent friend Jimmy Douglas, the newly announced founder and CEO of plug, are we going plug dive in? Are we just gone plug? Or what's the what's the official?

Jimmy Douglas: 0:29

Yeah, officially, we call it plug and the dot van domain was available. So that's what we use.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:34

I like it, though. That's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. All right. So you have a really cool rich history in automotive that I didn't even know about until this morning that goes much past Tesla, walk us like way back real quick to like where automotive started for you.

Jimmy Douglas: 0:50

Like many of us, it started in the garage. It actually started when my dad had sold his first company, and took a couple of years off. And he and his business partner had this brilliant idea of building replica classic cars, like the first one they built was a 1934. Packard, they built it from nothing, and attempted to sell it on the internet in the year 1993.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:14

Wow, how did they sell it on the internet?

Jimmy Douglas: 1:19

Absolutely not.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:22

Fast forward to today. And you're like whipping EVs all over the internet between dealers and customers and the whole nine yards, right? It's like full circle at this point. So you've you've also had this unique perspective, because you've got to spend a lot of time with a massive organization, Tesla and seen moving parts in a way that a lot of a lot of people in the auto retail industry don't get to see what were some of the like maybe one or two biggest learnings that you garnished from just the speed and velocity of having to move a large organization like that, from a sales perspective.

Jimmy Douglas: 1:56

Yeah, for sure. There's over 120,000 people there. And they're all working together in some shape or form. I would say the first really deep learning around that started before I even made it on the inside. And it was in their recruiting process, because that's a company that's very intentional about recruiting for people who have great conviction for their mission, to accelerate, accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy, and that Northstar that everybody can be connected to no matter what department they work in, no matter where in the world they're working, no matter how long they've been there, is really critical. Because if you're having a really hard day, or if there's some sort of contentious situation, or if there's competing priorities, you all have the same thing to come back to. And to me that was really powerful, and showing how you can meet somebody for the very first time who you didn't realize you've been metaphorically working alongside for years.

Kyle Mountsier: 2:52

That's really cool. Because like, if you've aligned on mission in the recruiting process, you know that whatever that meet cute is, there was a previous alignment that you that you've moved towards, I think there's two key learnings in that. We're gonna hang on one and not and the other. The first key learning is that Tesla is not a car company. It's a sustainable energy company. Well stop. Yeah, right. And so I'm not going to hang on that one, because I can get really lost and angry and nerdy. And all of that sounds fun. Let's do it. But the other one, and I think the one that's really key, especially as you begin your own startup, is this idea that aligning around a common mission, a common vision for the way that you see the world is actually not just something that you can instill in people, but that you need to acquire people at that. How have especially in this first six months, you aligned people around your common mission and vision for the way you see the world?

Jimmy Douglas: 3:46

Yeah, absolutely. It's a great question. The way I see it, is that the Evie transition is what it is right now. It's highly controversial. It's happening in some parts of the world and in some demographics at very different paces than others. And the secondary market will play a much bigger role in it than people realize. And I saw years ago just how underappreciated it is. Because it's fundamentally different. EVs are not really cars in the way that we know cars and to try and bolt on a secondary market for them to something that's existing and try to run it the same way. doesn't do it justice. And it makes things really complicated and difficult for everybody on the front line, that's shouldering it. And going back to my time having worked at a dealership and putting myself in the position of somebody who's attempting to run a business where there's asymmetric, asymmetric access to information, and there's maybe a sense of autonomy being stripped away. In certain conversations. I can only imagine how I would react to that. And I think our greatest weapon against that feeling is to democratize the information layer required to do this right and do it differently. Uh huh.

Kyle Mountsier: 5:00

So yeah, democratizing information. What are some of the key points of information that you think are lacking in the current model of the way that EVs are bought and sold both wholesale and

Jimmy Douglas: 5:13

retail? Yeah. So if I go back to when I was a teenager, and I was really into land partying, which,

Kyle Mountsier: 5:21

yeah, little halo party, or you know, whatever it is, yeah, yeah,

Jimmy Douglas: 5:25

like Counter Strike before it was, it was more than a half life mod. Yeah. So like, really far back? If I thought about if I was buying a computer back then, like, what would I have cared about? And I would have cared about like, what what is the computer hardware that's in here? And you know, at the time that would have been the CPU, the memory, the video card, I might have cared what software does it already have. So I won't even have to buy it or acquire it. However, people acquired software back in the 90s and early 2000s. And if you were to translate that into today, or if it were a laptop, or something portable, I would care deeply about the state of health of that battery, and how long it's going to last for me, right? These are a few key pieces of information that are true for EVs in order to make a super well informed decision. It's hardware, software and battery. And most of the time, when you're perusing inventory across any ubiquitous source, you don't have consistent access to any of that. And even if you do have access, it can be oftentimes difficult to know if the information is correct.

Kyle Mountsier: 6:18

Yeah, yeah. And so that solving for that is a key piece to transaction, like creating great transactions in a new Evie marketplace. Earlier, you said, Oh, I'm losing my train of thought. But because that's so good. So I love how you connected computers, because we've been adopting computer technology for quite some time. And we're just realizing that cars are really just pieces of metal around computers. Right, right. And that shift actually changes shopping behavior in the way that it works. But it also shifts retailing behavior, like how we actually retail these cars. And here, I'll get back to my train of thought this is great. I did great job transitioning this, right, yeah, but nailed it. My train of thought here is earlier said different demographics, different segments, different areas of the country, different areas of the world are seeing quicker adoption. And that's both on the consumer side. And on the retailer side, right. And so equipping retailers and consumers in those market areas with the available inventory is a real important mission for you. And you see this early adopter transitioning saying, Hey, we can take inventory from dealers or regions that may not be Evie experts, or have the demographics to sell those vehicles and move them to places where the adoption is more regular. How do you why is that an important mission of yours, especially early on in this in this technology?

Jimmy Douglas: 7:50

Yeah, it's a great question. And you're right, it is really important to me. There's roughly 20,000 us DVDs for sale at dealers across the country right now. And half of them are at dealers that only have one or two. And that cohort of dealers have been sitting on those cars quite a bit longer than the dealers that specialize in it, of which there's a very small number. And one of the important aspects of this for me, it goes back to that sense of autonomy and the US Eevee market is very early, it's very small, relatively speaking. And I don't personally think that everybody should be required to participate in that right now, if they're not ready, and if their community is not ready, because if you go into it, not feeling ready, then it's probably not going to go well. It requires a true honest investment and dogfooding and living the problem yourself in order to become a true subject matter experts. So you can draw from firsthand experience. And the market still really early, there actually isn't enough inventory for literate for everybody to do that. Sure.

Kyle Mountsier: 8:50

Yeah. No, you can't even like even if you wanted to, you may not be able to do it based on both the inventory and your consumer readiness in your area. And so it's this, like, you have to create a match made in heaven for that. Like, give us a little insight as we kind of wrap up because I'm just, you know, you're only six months into developing this. I'm sure you had to incubate it a little in your brain before that. But what's what is the next step for this technology look like?

Jimmy Douglas: 9:17

Yeah, so we quietly ran, what I'm calling an alpha version of the product. Over the last six weeks or so. We got some dealers on board, we got some transactions under our belt, we learned a lot. And when I came here today, I was prepared to open up the floodgates, if you will, for more dealers to come in and participate that had never met me before prior to the context of plug being announced. So setting up that onboarding flow and working with the earliest adopters in there to make sure that we get the processes dialed in so that when we start growing more quickly, it can be super seamless and a good experience for everybody. The seamless onboarding is going to be the most important for us, followed by very low friction transactions.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:57

Yeah, that's awesome. Very cool. Thanks for saying In a little bit of time with us, it's cool to hear a little bit of your history and move forward and hear your heart it's clear that this is from a passion and not just some money grab. And so that's really cool to see you serve in the industry in this way i look forward to see what happens next.

Jimmy Douglas: 10:15

Thanks for having me, Kyle. Appreciate you.

Paul Daly: 10:19

Thank you for listening to this ASO to concession by effective if you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcasts we have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker Monday through Friday. Here on podcasts also live streamed on YouTube, and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto collapse auto collapse. And if you just want to go a little different in this community, you should sign up for our regular email we put our heart and soul into it. You can get it for free by going to a sotu.com We'll see you next time.

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