Live from Used Car Week with Steve Greenfield and NAVIcon Winner Jimmy Douglas of Plug

November 10, 2023
We’ve got that Friday feeling as we recap Used Car Week with Steve Greenfield. Plus we host the winner of the NAVIcon Cup, Jimmy Douglas of Plug.
Listen On
Apple Podcasts IconSpotify IconGoogle Podcasts Icon

Jimmy Douglas and Plug won the 3rd Annual NAVIcon Cup, pitching against other tech startups to a panel of industry leading judges, including ASOTU’s own Kyle Mountsier.

Paul Daly: 0:00So I don't even know if we need to officially start, right? It's so exciting to actually bring the winner of the NABBA con cup is the third and third

Steve Greenfield: 0:08

annual. We've done three, three in the books.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:11

Who were the first two winners? Because we're gonna put him Yes. Listening. Yeah, tell him a little background. And right now we're

Steve Greenfield: 0:16

at the very tail end tail end tail end

Paul Daly: 0:19

with steering.

Steve Greenfield: 0:20

That's why I'm so happy. We're done. We're

Paul Daly: 0:21

wrapped that boost of energy. You know, it's happy. Yes, that's right. And also the winner of the navcon Cup. Jimmy Douglas,

Steve Greenfield: 0:27

Jimmy did an outstanding job. I hope someone recorded it. Because, I mean, this man did an outstanding job today really great playing

Kyle Mountsier: 0:34

at 2x speed YouTube video style. Yeah, exactly. Right. He

Paul Daly: 0:38

only had five minutes. It was 10 minutes. He said, I

Jimmy Douglas: 0:40

didn't want to get cut off. Like I knew that you were just going to turn off my microphone. I had to get every word out here. Come on.

Paul Daly: 0:45

Okay, let's let's start high level. So it's the end of use car week. Steve, how many use car weeks have you been to?

Unknown: 0:51

We only talked about I don't know what all of the

Paul Daly: 0:54

laws give us the temperature of this used car week.

Steve Greenfield: 0:57

So yeah, this is a record actually, in terms of attendance. And you know, the background with his car, we get an amalgam of like three different conferences. So it used to be, you know, like, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, we used to go to Las Vegas for like two weeks straight and back to back and you never even got to go home over the weekend. And they clued in they said, Well, why are we subjecting people to that? And they said, let's bring all three conferences together. So now it's only four days in a row. But at least it's all compressed, but makes it super efficient for people to show up. So like, you know, people come in from all areas all the nooks and crannies from other used car space. And it's it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool to see a lot of old friendly faces. Yeah,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:35

I've been talking to a lot of people in that there are clearly and significantly tracks like where you can stay in a lane and and it may be fits the your part of the automotive industry like your little vertical or that like there are tracks in which you can engage in which I think is a really neat kind of way to engage a community like everyone's here, but I'm kind of doing this part. I'm doing this part, right. Yeah. But

Steve Greenfield: 1:56

yeah, the common space, you can go mingle with everyone. Yes, exactly.

Paul Daly: 1:59

Right. NICE. Jimmy,

Jimmy Douglas: 2:00

was this your first it was my first use car week, and I spent probably 95% of my time in the comment space, actually. Right. Yep. Yeah. It was an incredible opportunity to meet people in person for the first time that I've only met over zoom actually caught like real deals with respect to how we're standing up the back end operation for plug. And honestly, I feel like a true member of this community with plugins, maybe he should pitch Yeah.

Paul Daly: 2:28

Maybe we should talk about this trophy. Oh, it's sitting in front of you. This is like a work of art is welded together amalgamation of all like, this hardware

Steve Greenfield: 2:40

use auto parts. It's all used auto parts. All of it. Yeah. Perfect for an easy

Jimmy Douglas: 2:43

startup. Yes, I'm

Paul Daly: 2:45

waiting and waiting for Pixar to bring this to life. Terminator, so don't feel like it bounces like the little app. And I believe you cut yourself on this.

Steve Greenfield: 2:53

I did this thing I split my thumb open two nights ago as I was showing it off. Oh, great. Shame. Shame on me. So you got some of Steve's DNA in there. So no,

Jimmy Douglas: 3:01

that's wonderful. I'm actually 30 pounds. It's a it's about as heavy as my son, who's 13 months. And I was actually wondering if you are going to think about just making it increasingly heavier every year, maybe packing some wet inside as a practical joke till it gets to the point that it requires two hands to carry. There

Steve Greenfield: 3:16

you go. That's right. You need a handler to carriers. So

Kyle Mountsier: 3:18

give us the history. Why did you begin? What was the intention around nav icon and specifically the nav icon cup?

Steve Greenfield: 3:25

This is a great question. So love, I love entrepreneurs. What I do all day is talk to entrepreneurs get pitched by entrepreneurs, we invest, we help them. We're like therapists to them in the early stages. So, you know, two, three years ago, talk to the folks here, used car week, and they had an inclination to like stand up a standalone investor conference. I did too. So kudos to them. They've been very supportive. I get to curate all the content. They provide the space. It's a very symbiotic relationship. And, you know, the highlight of the day is exactly this with Jimmy just one, you know, I said, like, let's get entrepreneurs into pitch, we'll get professional investors on stage right, to scrutinize them to act like sharks, so to speak, right with questions. And you know, I found a guy on Etsy, who's a welder. And I challenged him, I said, Look, I want to build something unique that we can give away to the winners. It's got to have an automotive theme. And literally, this is how it went down. The guy said, Oh, I got a great idea. He says, Can I get back to you in a week? And then like a week later, he sends me photos and it's this and I'm like, Are you freaking kidding me? Like with no guidance from me whatsoever? He says you have been thinking about this for a long time. And by the way, if you see this this is awesome. So the guys up in Michigan and you know as a result we've got got him a lot of business but if you see this thing it's like what 30 pounds 2530 That's gotta be Yeah,

Paul Daly: 4:42

one of the coolest things about this I'm noticing right now. Is that the way he powdercoated it coated it is that it looks greasy. But it's but it's clean. That is the only

Steve Greenfield: 4:53

grease is from my blood. Yeah. It's so cool.

Paul Daly: 4:59

Right which is why This looks like oil, the

Kyle Mountsier: 5:02

the investor space and even the tech space in Auto has been rapidly accelerating over the last four to five years, there's just been a ton of new entrants, there's a ton of new entrants for multiple reasons. One, the tech is more, it's it's easier to create, but also, at the same time, there's a ton of opportunity automotive. And a lot of times, there's this great chasm between like, the the dealer or even or even even the consumer and approaching the approachability of new tech, right? Like, I don't know what to do with that. I don't know how that serves. And so highlighting it in a way that says like, we're going to ask questions about it, we're gonna ask questions of it, we're gonna ask questions of these incredible entrepreneurs, actually gives it a lot more breadth instead of just like, I'm a dealer, come sell me, you know, or I'm an industry partner, I'm going hard. You know, it's, it's a whole business part of this business that's never been highlighted in that way. I feel

Steve Greenfield: 5:54

that while we do dealers, as you guys know, better than may have been, they become desensitized, right, they get pitched so much. And many dealers now don't even walk the floor at NADA, because they're worried they're gonna get pulled into a booth and get pitched to you. Right? So I think that, that we try to expose the flip side of that, right. These are like humans who have an idea, they're gonna go try to vanquish a dragon, a big dragon. And it's like to humanize them and say like, they're on an entrepreneurial journey. And by the way, it's hard. It's hard work and thankless work. And, you know, I think when dealers see that they're like, Okay, well, maybe the next time I get pitched, I can like, probe a little bit right? And have empathy, perhaps, you know, as you guys tried to bring a community together. I mean, if we can, we can allow the vendors to be more human to the dealers. And the flipside is true, too, right? Like, I mean, you should not just be grinding dealers, right? And say, Hey, can I set up a pitch for you, etc, it's a losing proposition. So I think we need to, to raise the bar on the relationship between vendors and dealers, right, make sure that the vendor is better understand the dealers and how they think and what their business lovers are. But the flip side if we can get more empathy from the dealers, and the interesting thing is, we talked about this as like many more dealers now are very interested in investing directly in these types are

Kyle Mountsier: 7:06

either building on their own or building their investments. Yeah.

Steve Greenfield: 7:09

So we are starting to see like this blurring of lines, and the dealers are starting to understand now, hey, if I can co opt an entrepreneur early, I can influence them influence their product roadmap, and by the way, maybe put some of my own money to work as well. And when there is a successful outcome, both sides win, and

Jimmy Douglas: 7:26

that's a dream come true. A dream come true type of partnership from founders perspective for whatever that's worth. Alright, well,

Paul Daly: 7:31

let's talk about pluck. Yeah, okay, you won, you got the most votes. And the most the highest level, if you didn't see it, there are four judges on stage. They voted one through 1010 is here's my money. One is, I never want to hear from you again. Same way. And with all the way to the averages plug came out on top because of your pitch. So tell tell us about plug. Thank

Jimmy Douglas: 7:53

you. Yeah, for those who don't know, plug is an online marketplace that facilitates the wholesale buying and selling of used electric vehicles among a network of dealers and fleet operators. And it solves a critical problem for those who are transacting in vehicles like those because they are fundamentally different assets than combustion vehicles. But in today's market, we generally buy and sell them like they're not any different. And that's caused a very inefficient market, there's been a lot of confusion around what people are buying, what the true value behind them is, and how to properly merchandise them. And it's been causing some disenfranchisement amongst the dealer body due to things like pricing, volatility and lack of transparency around that information. So we're trying to democratize access to that information and create an efficient market.

Paul Daly: 8:36

He said that once or twice before

Kyle Mountsier: 8:38

that strong, so yeah, I'm like, You got it. Nailed it. This this, you know, and I had this question for you on stage. And I think a lot of people are always asking in auto like, why another login? Why another provider? Why do I need to do something that like things like E block and ACV auctions and and others that have created these online auction spaces or or dealer to dealer networks? Why do I Why do we need another network, another marketplace for that what's so important about the unique dataset of the unique engagement in an a platform? Like? Yeah,

Jimmy Douglas: 9:13

it's a great question. And I don't blame people for asking, my answer would actually be that it's not another login for this type of asset. It's actually the first login for this type of asset whereas other platforms enable you to transact in EVs, but we're treating them like they're the same assets as other vehicles, but they're really like a computer on wheels. Its value is derived from things like computer hardware, software, battery pack, things that we generally don't even have the ability to filter or search based upon, let alone rely on the data that's been provided to us. Vin decoders, original Monroney labels, those aren't a valid reference for these types of vehicles. So we're thinking about it differently from the ground up and differentiating in many ways, including our approach to leverage the fact that EVs are inherently connected to the internet and have API's that allow us to gather that information directly. So it's a real time snapshot rather than a reference point, going back in time.

Paul Daly: 10:08

Okay, so there are 60 days we'll call it maybe a little less than 60 days left in 2023. Would love to know what you're going to be spending that 60 days working on and thinking about Steve golfers,

Steve Greenfield: 10:19

I got a lot of travel still, you know, next week is a good example. I'm presenting to dealers in New Jersey on Tuesday, in Cincinnati on Wednesday and in Dallas on Thursday, presenting to dealers, what do you present? Well, a lot of it's a future of automotive. So for example, next Wednesday, I'm up with the Greater Cincinnati auto Dealers Association of 150 franchised dealer owners in the audience, trying to help them think through like the next five or 10 years, and what that might look like, and most importantly, what the implications might be on their business overall. And to help them think critically like, you know, dealers are typically in this 30 day cycle. And I think they appreciate a couple of times a year, pulling their heads out, looking at the horizon, with all the news cycle, understanding which of these industry themes might actually impact their business and getting prepared for those things. Same

Paul Daly: 11:03

question. Yeah, I

Jimmy Douglas: 11:05

will also be in New Jersey on Tuesday, actually. Oh, there you go. Yeah. High five at the airport. Yeah, absolutely. I have some, some dealership meetings out there. And some other interesting opportunities. I have a conference in Denver on Wednesday with the Presidio group, I need to spend more time back in the office working with my team, because we're gearing up to RE launch plug now in its beta form at the beginning of December. And that will probably speak for the remainder of my year as we start getting more transactions under our belt and you know, also the holidays.

Kyle Mountsier: 11:33

Very cool. Bring us oh man, I like I just so enjoyed this today. I got to

Steve Greenfield: 11:40

call, by the way was a judge. So I mean, I was just an outstanding job I was very proud of Well, here's the great, great, incisive, thoughtful questions. I appreciate

Kyle Mountsier: 11:48

it. Yeah. And I was like house really paying attention because I'm sitting next to Quinn with auto tech ventures and chase with FM capital. And then and Terrance with the director of VP of Business Development, which is like the acquisition channel for partnership and for Carmax. And like, these guys are dealing with major enterprise agreements, a massive startups VC capital, like $500 million, that they've that they've that they've put out in funds over the last few years. And I'm sitting here, I'm like, do you still go, but I love I love engaging with early tech startups, I have such a desire to see them meet consumers and dealers, where they are and stop thinking. So in such an insular native narrative, and so I think a place like this allowed multiple people to lean into that and I think that maybe even just the people in the audience are opening their horizon to go hmm, maybe we need to think about the next step of automotive tech and and how we engage either the dealer or the consumer a little bit differently. And so I had a bunch of fun. Thanks for having me.

Steve Greenfield: 13:00

Anytime. We'll do it again next year.

Paul Daly: 13:01

We'll wrap it up this way then. This is the morning show people are starting their day off with this one. So as you go into the day, maybe approach things a little bit differently think a little more critically about it. My voice is all cracking up because the dry air in Arizona I love it brutal. But yeah, it is. But thanks for joining us guys today. Amazing show amazing Navicat event and I'm sure do this pretty soon.

Steve Greenfield: 13:23

Great. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.