Meet Atul Patel
Co-Founder and CEO of Orbee and Dealer Marketing Magazine Expert
"I actually went in with the neuroscience and genetic engineering curriculum at UCLA."
We met with Atul Patel, CEO of Orbee. A serial entrepreneur with a level of genuine excitement and energy which is unmatched.
Fast forward to two years later, I got a letter from the Department. I forgot to tell them that I had decided to go over to Economics.
Maybe it was natural gravitation; maybe it was the fact that I was partly lazy and felt that I was done with all this schooling and academics. Maybe I was already burnt out, and maybe part of me was never made for academics. Maybe I'm more of the street guy? And so, with all that said, I learned economics. I think anything you learn will apply to anything you do. You just have to apply it.
Atul had spent five years in a corporate environment after college. At a big mortgage bank which was "buying up every and any lead," he shared. Atul worked on highly advanced analytics and reporting. "I started thinking, okay, what if I could give this to the smaller mortgage brokers, credit unions?"
That is when Atul left the bank and created his first startup, a lead management business. "After I sold that company, I learned that there was a lot of fraudulent lead selling going on. So then I co-founded a company that validated leads and the quality of leads." Atul then went on to build another startup that did social ad buying before starting his next, a video syndication company.
So along the way, and there are dozens of other startups in between, I've learned so much stuff, and now I actually feel like automotive and specifically Orbee is this canvas for me to splatter different experiences that I've had into a single platform.
"I'm excited to bring all these historical experiences into this one scenario. Automotive has been good to me."
I had recently sold a startup, and I was sort of in the circuit of speaking to entrepreneurs. I met my co-founder, who was working on this new 360-degree photo-taking app. And so Orbee's actual name comes from that, "around a car." We had built the app, and dealers were like, "great, what do I do with it?"
So we created a customer experience widget that shows that medium.
The next step was to measure the engagement, and so we created analytics which then evolved into "can you show me analytics of everything that I'm doing? Can you tell me what is working and what isn't, and can you also fix it for me?"
Sometimes it's hard to comprehend how we are able to pull all these pieces together, but I've created and founded many companies that all had a very similar journey or a similar DNA to it.
"Orbee has become an incubator of lots of ideas. And it just so happens that Orbee has such a solid foundation that we can add components."
Orbee had become a marketing stack based on customer needs. Orbee had become its namesake, a 360-degree tool. Pohanka Automotive Group, Flow Automotive, and the Holman Group have all invested in Orbee this year. They are also all Clients of Orbee's and will remain that way.
"I have very minimal hobbies."
I feel like I'm now starting to explore it. Some of our investors are recent investors, these large automotive groups. We talk about, oh, let's go hunting and let's go do this, and stuff I've never done.
Atul doesn't know who is playing in the World Series this weekend. "That space in my brain is already filled up; it's about family and work" Atul smiles as he shares stories about his kids. "We are experimenting with content at Orbee. My twelve-year-old has a YouTube channel where he drums, we talk about the Youtube Algorithm, and he is teaching me that you have just got to get out there. Who cares if your room is clean? Who cares if your videos aren't perfect?" Atul smiles again. "I play Fortnight with my ten-year-old, and I tell him, you being such a great Fortnite player means that you may control robots in the future because that's what you're doing in visual three-dimensional space." Atul's six years old is still "figuring things out" but it's so clear that everything Atul does and says, interconnects to something else, somewhere deep in his thoughts.
I believe that the market has enjoyed a very lucrative period where you could pay lots of vendors, try lots of things, and have the staff that connects all these disparate workloads. And I feel that now what we've set out to try to be is this cumulative Martech cloud.
"The industry is finally saying: I want to bring things together."
I do want to leverage my data and squeeze more value into what I already have in front of me. My audiences, my shoppers, my database, all of the systems I already have in place, and what can I do to glue together all of this?
It's almost like Legos. We have so many Lego sets built up from so many different Lego themes.
"Over the next year, I feel like we could turn around the whole message and say: what are you trying to achieve? "
Because we have a toolkit for that, we have all the Lego pieces, and we know how to connect them. Someone might argue, yeah, but that seems off because I don't want it to be Frankenstein. But it's not like when you think about Legos. They have standard connectors, so you can intermix your Star Wars with your playground set.
And that's what I feel we've done. It might seem like it came from different sets, but they all connect, and you can actually do very interesting things when you have all these pieces.
We are not just building new capabilities.
We will be able to answer dealers when they say; this is my problem. This is what I want to do. Can you help me?