How Shoaib Makani transformed Motive from an ‘app for truckers’ into an all-encompassing AI platform for the physical economy

by Index Ventures

Motive's Shoaib Makani and Index's Nina Achadjian onstage at Startup Grind Silicon Valley 2024

Amid the buzz around driverless car technology in 2017, Motive founder Shoaib Makani had a hunch: The time horizon for trucks and commercial transportation to become fully automated would potentially be decades, not months or years.

Instead, based on the knowledge from five years of running an app and platform for the trucking industry, he believed that the big opportunity was in driving assistance. Acting on the insight, Motive bought a small computer vision AI company and set them on a “four-year research project” to build computer vision models that could detect unsafe driving behavior.

Today, Motive is the leader in AI-powered driving assistants and driver safety, reducing accidents for companies who deploy it by more than 75% “within months”. But Motive hasn’t stopped there, evolving into an all-encompassing AI platform for the physical economy.

From waste management to construction, Shoaib says Motive’s technology has endless use cases in the physical world – the challenge now is appropriate prioritization to drive the biggest impact.

“Anything that you can see we can train an AI model to perceive,” explains Shoaib. “It creates both tremendous opportunity but also a challenge; there’s so many opportunities it becomes a prioritization problem, but a fun one.”

Speaking to Index partner Nina Achadjian at Startup Grind, Shoaib runs through his journey from Google ventures investor who backed “the wrong cab company”, to hanging out at truck stops and building a $3bn AI company. Watch the full conversation below.

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In this post: Motive, Nina Achadjian

Published — June 26, 2024