The drive towards change

What started as any other day turned out be the beginning of a new and exciting journey. We sat down with our CEO & founder, Christian Walther Øyrabø, to understand what drove him to found OOONO and what he dreams of achieving.

The daily commute to work. You probably know the feeling of getting into your car in the morning and heading to work. For Christian it’s no different. His day starts with an-hour long drive to the office near Copenhagen as he prepares for another day of business meetings. He has learned to appreciate the time behind the wheel and sees the journey as an opportunity to reflect and process all aspects of life. Little did he know that this exact drive would end up taking him on the ride of a lifetime. A ride better known as OOONO.

How did you come up with the idea for OOONO?

C: Early 2017 I was driving to work as usual when a car flashed its lights at me. It was evident that the driver was trying to communicate with me. A few hundred meters later I passed by a police car doing speed checks. I don’t know why it hit different that day – after all we honk the horn, flash the lights and wave to fellow drivers all the time – but it just got me thinking. There must be a smarter way to connect cars and allow them to communicate. That was when I began searching for potential solutions.

But there were already other solutions?

C: I found solutions capable of doing “the job” – most of them apps. However, I didn’t like the idea of operating the phone while driving or having to start an app before driving as I often forget that. It needed to be simple and convenient if I were to use it myself. Starting automatically was a must for me, so I reached out to a product designer I previously worked with, and he helped me put together a prototype based on my initial thoughts. That’s when the “device idea” was born. Simple and hassle-free handling while driving as well as an automatic “app starter”. As a driver you only have to worry about driving, which is key.

Was it all about avoiding speed cameras for you? Afterall, that was the incident that sparked your interest?

C: Not at all. Speed check was the “information” in that situation, but what triggered me the most was the task of making it easier for cars to communicate. In a world where your smartphone is capable of almost anything I just found it odd that no one had looked into making car-to-car communication smarter. Afterall, millions of people spend countless hours on the road every day and their knowledge is power. My vision was to create a platform which allows them to share any observation that they find valuable to others – without it having to be a distraction while driving. In the end I believe that we support traffic safety agendas by keeping people informed and focused. Knowing what’s coming is essential to be able to react, but the *beep* from our CO-DRIVER also helps people focus. They instantly become aware of what they are doing.

It sounds simple – was it really?

C: Not at all. The overall goal was to create a “simple to understand product” so I get why people think that. However, the truth is that its rather complex to make this little helper run. It takes A LOT of developer resources to ensure that it runs as we want, but we obviously want to continuously innovate and bring even more value into our users’ everyday life. I wouldn’t say it surprised me, but it has definitely been a huge challenge to get to the point we are at today where millions of drivers are connected to the same “hub” and have the opportunity to share knowledge.

More value? Has your vision changed over the years?

C: Yes and no. The notion of what we do is still all about connecting cars and helping them communicate. Our community will always be the heart of our business. However, we have ideas of becoming more than “just traffic information”. We see ourselves as the ultimate CO-DRIVER meaning that we want to make life on the road as convenient as possible. So, it’s only natural for us to explore how we can help solve other issues that people with cars encounter regularly. We are working on a lot of new ideas, so hopefully you will be able to experience what I mean in the nearest future.

Would you characterize OOONO as a success story?

C: That’s not for me to determine. I’m proud of what the team has achieved so far, but this is only the beginning. We are exploring complementary product lines and keep developing our existing. We have high ambitions and a pipeline of exciting plans. To me the ultimate success is measured in the difference we make for people every day. When I get feedback from our users I’m genuinely happy. I hope OOONO will become the trusted companion for drivers across Europe so our loyal community will benefit even more. Afterall, our users are the ones generating the actual value.