First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mayank Sikaria: We are living in challenging and uncertain times. When the pandemic began, we were figuring out how to stay safe, how to stay home, and how this was going to affect our lives in the long run. Now that we have been in lockdown for almost 8 months, we have picked up new tricks and skills to be able to stay connected – Zoom for the win! The silver lining for me has been the fact that I get to live with my partner, which hasn’t been possible for the last two years because she was in dental school.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Sibros.
Mayank Sikaria: My childhood dream has always been to work on cars. I joined Faraday Future, an electric car company out of Los Angeles, after being in the semiconductor industry (Qlogic, Micron), and that’s when my journey in the automotive industry started. It didn’t take me much time to realize how the auto industry was in terms of software development. After my time at Faraday, I co-founded Sibros with Hemant Sikaria (CEO), who shared the same vision.
At Sibros, my ambition is to do what Steve Jobs did with the iPhone and iOS – build a platform for the automotive industry that enables applications that no one has even thought of yet. If it weren’t for iOS or Android, companies like Airbnb, Uber, or Lyft wouldn’t have existed. There is a lot of hype right now in the automotive and mobility world, but let’s be honest, we can’t even update the software in the vehicle without taking it to the dealership. There is a disconnect between where we are and where we need to be. That’s exactly why I founded Sibros!
How does Sibros innovate?
Mayank Sikaria: Sibros offers the Deep Connectivity Platform – the only end-to-end system to deliver full vehicle over-the-air (OTA) software updates and deep data logging to and from every electronic control unit (ECU) in the vehicle. Our software-first approach empowers automakers to address hundreds of connected vehicle use cases spanning service and fleet management, predictive maintenance, personalization, data monetization, and beyond.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mayank Sikaria: Despite the pandemic and its impact on the global automotive industry, the need to innovate automotive technology remains as there are established automakers aiming to stay competitive against newer software-first automakers. There continues to be interest and conversations with automakers about growing with them to evolve their connected vehicle initiatives.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mayank Sikaria: Fortunately, we have not had to make any difficult decisions due to the pandemic, and we were even able to close our Series A funding before COVID hit in full force. Even throughout the pandemic, we have continued to grow the team. The biggest lesson learned here is keeping the excitement going – whether it be for the team or customers is paramount – regardless of a pandemic or not, this has helped us keep everyone engaged.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Sibros in the future?
Mayank Sikaria: I’ve been spending as much time exploring the outdoors as possible! Hemant and I always encourage the team to take the weekends and holidays for rest, to truly recharge, and find a balance and boundary between work and play. COVID has blurred the lines between where we work and where we relax, so it’s more important than ever to intentionally carve out space and time for our well-being.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mayank Sikaria: Some of our competitors include some larger companies such as Harman and Bosch, who have been around for a long time. However, we continue to innovate by offering different solutions that aren’t readily available. The product and vision we are offering is a relatively new concept, so illustrating the Deep Connectivity Platform capabilities and educating our potential customers has been a focus for our team as well.
Your final thoughts?
Mayank Sikaria: Building a startup is hard; running a startup during a global pandemic is harder, and doing so in an industry like automotive that has been impacted might seem impossible. However, I am fortunate to have a wonderful team in every aspect. This, in my opinion, is the key – you can have the best product, the most funding, but a team with great chemistry that is aligned with the vision can defy all odds. In other words, take care of the team, and the team will take care of the rest. We are all in this together.
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