[Accelerator Interview] Developer of Automotive IoT Services Including Digital Car Key and Smart Memory System ‘Tuneit’


1. Overview of Tuneit

Tuneit is a service-based startup that specializes in digital car key technology. Using big data on mobility solutions, we are trying to innovate our everyday lives including the automotive experience. Our key digital key product, “Achakey” enables the driver to start and drive their cars with a smartphone app instead of using a physical car key and this product is sold by the name Kia App Key for Kia cars. Having a digital, smartphone app-based key allows the drivers to share the authority to control their cars to others. This makes car sharing more easy and our products is used for many rental cars, shared cars and cars for test driving. Many small electric boats also use our product as well. 

We also have a IoT technology that allows the users to remotely control their cars. The TUIX IoT option on Hyundai’s Venu released last year is our product and using this product, the users can control the side-view mirrors, seat heating system and windows with their smartphones. We are currently trying to introduce this product to other models as well.

2. Company Background

A group of automotive researchers at Hyundai Motor Group’s Research Institute started a team through the company incubation program and Tuneit was separated from Hyundai Motor Group. The members wanted to start an independent startup even when they were working as a corporate startup and we spun off from Hyundai Motor Group in Spring of 2019 right before the digital car key market really started to grow. 

3. Tuneit’s Strengths and Differentiating Factors

We are comprised of researchers who are experts at developing cars so we have pretty good understanding of how automotive products should be made. The internal logic of automotive development is very complicated, there are many elements to consider and the quality and reliability standards that have to be met are very high. Tuneit, even during the corporate incubation period, focused on ensuring the quality of its product so that it’s reliable enough to be used for automotive parts right away. 

Tuneit’s digital car key Achakey comes with an OBD connector and a temporary Bluetooth valet key you can use for valet parking. These products cannot be made without the understanding of various automotive environments and there are many factors to consider like temperature, humidity, durability and electromagnetic waves. Also, our product is the only product that can work effectively even during various unexpected emergency situations like shadow fading and natural disasters.

Even during our corporation startup period, we worked very hard to develop a technology for remotely controlling cars using a smartphone. And, through our work, we were able to develop hardware and software that offer the highest level of stability and reliability in the industry. Smartphone and app businesses are difficult. There are so many different types of smartphones and operating systems but your product but support all of them stably. It’s quite simple if you’re dealing with just one model or type of smartphone but it takes special know-hows and technological capabilities to make your product stably support hundreds of different smartphone model and operating systems. For example, Apple has strict requirements for app that control other companies’ hardware but our app is the only app that has passed these requirements. We also offer quick updates whenever a new phone or new OS comes out to satisfy our customers and enhance our service. We believe our digital car key “Achakey” will not only replace physical car keys with a smartphone app but it will promote car sharing and various other services. Our biggest strength is that we hold all of the original technologies for the servers, firmware and app for the IoT that allows the users to control various functions of their cars remotely using a smartphone app. 

4. Most Memorable Moment?

Tuneit’s slogan, from the very beginning, has been “Make, Fun, Together.” But it’s actually “Make + Together = Fun”. We feel the biggest sense of reward when our customers like the products and services we’ve really worked hard to make. The positive reviews and comments also give us strength, especially when we’re having a hard time. One time, a customer outside the city was having a problem with our product so we visited the customer and repaired the product. The customer thanking us for responding so quickly bought our employees food. Every time when we receive these small treats like drinks and snacks, we just feel so happy and a sense of satisfaction. Also, we are thankful for our employees who work really hard to offer our customers the best products.

We’re just starting out and things are not perfect but I thank my employees for believing in what we do. Sometimes we go through difficult times and we experience problems but instead of focusing the problems we focus on solving the problems. We communicate a lot. Even if the meetings are not well prepared, we just talk, share our ideas and try to come up with solutions together.

5. Business Accomplishments

Tens of thousands of customers that are using our product everyday and our 18 employees who try their best to serve those customers in the best way possible are our biggest accomplishments.

6. Advice for Those Preparing to Start a Business 

I remind myself what Do-kyun Kwon, CEO of start-up accelerator Primer once said. “What I believe is that any reasonable person can start and manage a business listed on KOSDAQ. I am the proof. Anyone can develop management capabilities required to run a business of a certain scale.” These are the words that really motivate me.

7. What Are Your Business Plans and Vision for the Future and Your Thoughts on ZER01NE?

We want people to experience the value of being free from physical car keys and not having to stress about losing car keys. We will integrate other great services to our product so that you can get more benefits the more you use it. We’ve successfully applied our technology for controlling hardware remotely with smartphones to cars so we will now expand this technology to other areas of our everyday life.

9. Anything Else You Want to Say?

This ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is tough for everybody. We want everybody to stay strong and hang in there until a brighter future arrives.