Interview with Coyote: making money with GPS, GPRS and speedcams

Coyote, a French start-up company, has launched an innovative product offering speedcam alerts in real time. This GPS product, which seems to sell like hot cakes despite a €12 monthly subscription, caught our eye. GPS Business News interviewed with Coyote’s CEO, Fabien Pierlot.

GPS Business News:
How did you start Coyote?
Fabien Pierlot: After a business school I did work in human resources for three years. But basically I am a car fan; I like speed. In 2003 I created my first company called Flash Info. The idea was very simple: in one hand drivers were calling a free phone number to give the location of mobile speed traps they found on their way and on the other hand there was a premium interactive phone service to get information about speedcams on the road you were travelling. This system based on the community effect was very successful, we are getting 30,000 paid calls per month and the service is still doing well today. However I had the idea to do something a bit more high tech using GPS and a GPRS connection. I got in touch with a CTO in a LBS company and in June 2005 we started Coyote.

GPS BN: OK, so what is exactly Coyote?
FP: Coyote is a small product you put on your dashboard and connect to a cigarette lighter. It offers real time information about speed limits as well as fixed and mobile speed cameras on the road you travel. You constant information about the maximum speed as well as alerts two kilometers before speedcams. We also offer some additional services such as traffic information. We hold a European patent for this product.

There is a dedicated button for sending alerts about speed traps. When you drive and see the police with a mobile speed trap on the side road you click once, if you see it on the other side of the road you click twice. Within seconds this alert is available to all Coyote devices. This is as simple as that. Additionally, when you enter a highway, we have a very interesting feature that gives you the number of Coyote devices that are travelling ahead of you and their distance to you.

Today on the market we are the only company to offer such a product. There are many other devices that offer speedcam alerts but you need to connect them to a PC to update the database. None of them has a wireless connectivity; none of them can offer real time information about mobile speed traps.

GPS BN: When did you launch the first Coyote and how many did you sell so far?
FP: The Company was created in June 2005 and we launched our first product in February 2006. At the end of January 2008 we had sold 15,000 Coyote. Now our growth is accelerating because we launched a new product last month. The Mini Coyote is selling for €199 with three months subscription included, then €12 per month. In February alone we sold 5,000 units of this new product.

Coyote is really a community, so the more we sell products, the better the service is getting. Nowadays our users are initiating 500 to 600 speedcam’s alerts per day.

GPS BN: €12 per month is not small money; who are your customers?
FP: A lot of them are entrepreneurs and sales people. But most of them re people that need their driving license to work. The French law is pretty tough for people exceeding the authorized speed; you can lose your driving license with a few tickets. So for people that can’t afford to lose their driving license €12 is not a big issue.


Friday, March 21st 2008

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