Chicago’s auto tech industry is accelerating at an impressive pace, and few people know that as well as Mahi Inampudi.
Inampudi heads technology and product over at DRIVIN, a fledgling startup (and brainchild of Lefkofsky and Keywell fame) that only officially launched about eight months ago. Despite the startup's youth, DRIVIN already has $10 million in funding and a fast-growing team of some of Chicago’s best and brightest. Armed with those assets — as well as their first-of-its-kind, data-driven marketplace that helps used auto dealers find the cars they need most — DRIVIN is poised for a strong 2016.
We caught up with Inampudi to learn more about what tech fuels the business.
What technologies power your business?
DRIVIN uses NodeJS with a lot of React and D3 frameworks for all web front-ends, ReactNative for Mobile Apps, massive Elastic search clusters with a heavy use of aggregate framework, Java/Tomcat for APIs, Postgres, XtremeData for very fast growing BigData clusters, along with Apache Spark/Databricks; and Amazon Web Services…..very exciting technology stack!
What technologies are playing the biggest roles in DRIVIN this year?
Our DealerApp on Mobile which went live in December, and Insights and Marketplace are the two new products we are launching for dealers in the coming months. This is a product suite that used car dealers have never had before – and we are excited to help redefine the way dealers source and acquire used vehicles. Big Data and very fast search engines with aggregate frameworks power some of the things we are able to do now vs. a few years ago.
What are the biggest technology challenges you've faced in the past? How did you overcome them?
I’ve been fortunate to work on a number of exciting initiatives throughout my career, including keeping search traffic and our site up and running at Cars.com during record Super Bowl traffic, rebuilding the entire Apartments.com technology stack in nine months to integrate with parent company, CoStar, and the extremely fast moving environment we have at DRIVIN.
What are lessons you've learned about working in Chicago that other local entrepreneurs can learn from?
People are the most important assets I have and will have. Ensuring you hire hungry, humble, skilled people — and then, being surrounded by those talented people — is always going to make me a better leader. Chicago is blessed with an abundance of talent, which makes it easier to be part of such an environment.
How will Chicago specifically continue to strengthen its tech community in 2016?
Startups. I have never seen so many exciting startups in my last 15 years in Chicago. This brings so much passion into the local technology community.
What trends do you see happening in your industry over the next three years? How is DRIVIN anticipating those trends and working towards them?
Despite the auto industry being one of the largest in the US, it has yet to fully see the advantages of newer technology, particularly on the dealer side. With more and more consumer car shopping technology out there, dealer margins are going to get more and more challenging. I think there will be a massive shift in the way dealers operate to be a lot more efficient. DRIVIN is here to partner with dealers to help them navigate this duration and help make them better able to meet consumer demand, while continuing to see profitability.
What else do you want the Chicago startup community to know about DRIVIN?
We're probably one of the fastest growing startups in Chicago taking on one of the largest industries in the country with cutting edge technology. A great place to work as long as you are passionate, hungry to make a big impact and want to work for a disruptive technology/data based company.
Photos via DRIVIN. Some answers have been edited for length and or clarity.
Want to nominate a CTO for this series? Send us an email via email@example.com.