Lessons learned from Navdy going out of business

On Monday, the 22nd of January 2018 Navdy (www.navdy.com) sent an email to all customers, myself included, that basically states that they are going out of business. They have entered into “An Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors”. You can read the email they sent below:

Navdy Customers:


As you may be aware, on October 26, 2017, Navdy, Inc. (“Navdy”) entered into an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (“Assignment”) and, as a result, Navdy is unfortunately no longer conducting business.  An Assignment is a state level insolvency proceeding undertaken in accordance with state law, in this case California.  The Assignment entity is a California limited liability company known as “Navdy (assignment for the benefit of creditors), LLC” (“Assignee”).  The Assignee is a special purpose entity established to take title to Navdy’s assets, liquidate those assets for the most money possible, compile claims, and distribute proceeds, if any, to creditors according to their priority established in the California Code.  You should note that with the exception of the relationship created by the Assignment, Navdy and the Assignee have no corporate affiliations to each other.


The Assignment process is funded by a limited budget that goes towards winding down Navdy’s business affairs, paying for certain services to keep Navdy’s units running properly, and running a sale process to find a buyer for Navdy’s assets.  While this sale process is still ongoing, the limited budget cannot fully support the costs of Navdy’s recurring services indefinitely.  Regrettably, the Assignment estate will not be able to continue to support current Navdy units much longer.


What this means for you as a Navdy customer is that sometime within the next couple of weeks, your Navdy unit may stop functioning properly.  Features like turn-by-turn navigation and voice recognition could fail and it is possible that this may cause the device to fail completely.


The Assignee is continuing with its efforts to find a buyer for Navdy’s assets, and hopefully one who will continue to support current Navdy’s units, but loss of functionality of your Navdy unit is an unfortunate and very likely outcome given that there is likely not going to be an imminent sale to a buyer; the Assignment estate has limited funds; and there are no sources of immediate funds available to the Assignee to enable the Assignee to continue to pay critical vendors.


If you have a claim against Navdy, please click here to file a claim: Navdy POC Notice – eSubmission

This came as a huge surprise for me. I (and I think everyone else) thought Navdy was doing really well. They got rave reviews everywhere. You can read their reviews for example on TechCrunch and DigitalTrend.


Quick primer: What is Navdy?

Navdy made HUD (Heads Up Display) for cars. A picture says a thousand words, so a video definitely says more, check this video to know that their product is:

A bit of History on Navdy

They started preorders in 2014 on their website, where they got $1 million of preorders in the first week, went on to get a total of $2.4 million of preorders (including my own contribution in 2015). And secured several rounds of investment. Starting with a $6.5 million seed fund, then going on to raising a $20 million Series A round and went on to get almost $42 million in total funding, including from Harman International Industries and Qualcomm.

Everyone believed Navdy had a bright future ahead, but the startup statistics obviously still hold; 9 out of 10 startups fail, and unfortunately for Navdy, they weren’t amongst the 10% that succeed.

In my surprise (and disappointment that my own Navdy unit will soon stop functioning), I thought about why would Navdy with its futuristic and high quality product fail. Here is what I have in mind so far, in my humble opinion that is:

1. The price point was too high for the average buyer.

During the preorders, which is when I got mine, the price for a unit was $299 + shipping. Which was steep, but I supported them because I really liked what they were building. Cars + Augmented reality; That’s the dream.

And like me, many were interested, but if $299 was hard to shell. The after launch price of almost $800, which was later dropped to $499, was still high for most people. After all, the Navdy was marketed as “a way to modernize your old car”. So it was hard pressed to find many people who would buy a $500 accessory for their old car. I know for a fact that most people who saw my unit (which I got after 2 years of the preorder) was impressed. But none was impressed enough to shell out $500 for it.

2. They did not have the right Sales Model.

Much related to #1 above, I dont claim to be a business expert. And I’m sure Navdy had access to people more experienced and knowledgable than I am, but in my humble opinion, having the business model where customers made a huge one-time purchase and that is it, is not the best. Not only does this not create a recurrent revenue stream, and decreases the ROI (Return on Investment) on the customer acquisition. Because since you cannot make money off existing customers, those whom you have already paid to get to purchase, means you have to keep acquiring new customers. Which was not easy the first time. But also they have to keep paying to support you and give you updates.

There is a reason almost everyone is going to the subscription model nowadays => Recurrent income stream.

They did say they partnered with Harman and Renault to build OEM HUD, but apparently that didn’t come through for them.

3. They developed their own software instead of leveraging existing ones

A Navdy unit is not standalone, it had to be paired to an iOS or Android smartphone. So why not leverage that with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead of having a bespoke solution using Here maps? Yes that would mean some licensing fees, but it would also mean access to more apps making the device even more compelling, even for app developers. Developers are what makes or breaks a platform.

4. They didn’t release an SDK for 3rd Party apps

Building on #3, app developers make or break a platform. So if you dont have CarPlay or Android Auto, at least have an SDK for 3rd party apps. When you have a developer community, they will push you forward. Do you remember why Windows Mobile failed? They couldn’t build a platform lucrative enough for developers to support.


I am personally bummed about Navdy. Not only for the fact that my unit may stop working within the coming weeks, but also because I really believed in what they were doing. I hope somehow, they recover from this.

My personal unit in Vienna




  1. coop
    January 25, 2018

    Few thoughts as a Navdy owner.

    The primary problem is market, this is only compounded by the delays and the inevitable price. The Navdy company was founded in 2013 and started their crowfunding in 2014. Units were expected to ship in Q2 2015. They ultimately ended up delaying several times, to the point where “Explorer Program” units didn’t ship until Q3 2016, and shipments in earnest didn’t really fill for backers in the end of 2017.

    They seem to have encountered several hardware issues – they eliminated the line out (audio), and the GPS, only to have to ultimately re-insert the GPS chip in the end, and create a separate control mechanism (the dial). The $800 launch price is telling – after being a year and a half late, they were trying to get as much as they could out of gadgetheads, before quickly dropping it to $600 regular price with $500 sales and then $500 regular price with $400 sales.

    The display was never perfect and car mount compatibility in cars was a challenge. Navdy’s partnership with HARMAN didn’t afford them any manufacturing aid – the first partnership (in 2016) was for HARMAN to sell a co-branded Navdy hardware at other stores that Navdy didn’t have access too, but now you have a middleman taking a cut of your profit. The second partnership (unrealized) is where HARMAN would have acted as the middleman for Groupe Renault to sell Navdy hardware in Europe, but it would still be the same hardware with yet another party taking a cut of the pie.

    Navdy ran like a startup. Ask for early access to the explorer program? Sure, we’ll ship it international FedEx Direct Delivery from China in a pallet (clears as pallet in Memphis customs, then boxes are separated for onward delivery). Want another power cord and mount kit? Sure, we’ll ship it to you free, at our expense (they did towards the end of their lives offer an $150 extra mount kit at retail). The costs were staggering. Also, there were hardware mistakes (the first version of the dial they made tended to die, requiring them to do hardware replacements for a revision 2).

    The support at Navdy was *excellent* up until April 2017, at which point it slowed down substantially (as it turns out, Glassdoor review and LinkedIn profiles are telling – a LOT of departures). The Glassdoor review in particular mentions an inability to get funds and looking for more. They made the Groupe Renault announcement with HARMAN which got them in the news, but apparently wasn’t enough.

    On to the other points:

    A subscription sales model would not have worked. Google Maps, Apple Maps, other map smartphone apps offer traffic free of charge. It would have made Navdy totally unappealing. Who wants another monthly fee when they pay on their phone?

    Android Auto and Carplay were not actively released for much of Navdy’s development cycle and are based off touch driven interfaces, which would have made them a total non-starter for use on a projected HUD. Navdy actually applied to be a part of the Waze Transport SDK to use Waze Maps/routing/etc., but Google rejected them for reasons unknown. Also, the whole reason the device had offline maps + GPS chip is that if your smartphone disconnected during an active route, navigation would continue. Dash view (RPMs, direction, fuel level, speed, etc.) also worked without a phone, and merely displaying the maps including speed limits did too (although starting a new route for navigation required a phone to be connected).

    Apple and Google neither offer fully open SDKs for Carplay/Android Auto. They offer their own first party apps and limited third party interaction for two kinds of apps: Messaging apps (where the interface is canned and it reads texts aloud via speech and you can reply to messages via voice) and audio apps (where they could offer a limited set of playback controls). There was never an open SDK for either of these, bluetooth controls and album art display kind of rendered an audio SDK pointless, and the messaging app SDK never came to fruition. All of these companies are skittish because of the different laws on what can be in front of a driver and what is considered driver distraction.

    I hope Navdy finds a way out of this too via some buyer, but things are looking pretty grim. And as far as most similar competitors go, everything is on preorder or vaporware (Exploride increasingly looks to be in an insolvent situation where they will never ship in particular).

    1. MNassar
      January 25, 2018

      You’re right about the delay. I had honestly forgot I even preordered it until they sent the email to confirm the shipping address. Which was lucky because I had moved countries in the meantime.

      The display isn’t perfect but it is fine for the purpose, never felt it lacking tbh.

      Actually my only gripe was that it often had problems connecting to my iPhone via Bluetooth.

      They ran as a startup because they basically are a startup. I don’t think they really grew out of that.

      I too hope they somehow pull out of it.

      That was a very interesting and informative comment. Thank you for that.

      1. coop
        January 25, 2018

        Navdy bluetooth issues are supposed to be resolved as of iOS 11.2.5 stable. (or 11.3 if you’re on beta versions). Might break in a future update, but worth trying if you have issues now.

      2. MNassar
        January 29, 2018

        Thanks. I’ll make sure to try it once it is released.

        How do you know? Did Apple identify any bluetooth issues?

      3. JC
        January 31, 2018

        Navdy owners still running iPhone devices on reddit confirmed it. There’s a subreddit at /r/navdy. Not terribly active, but more than anywhere else I’ve found.

      4. MNassar
        February 12, 2018

        You are right. It has been working fine since I updated to 11.2.5

  2. Shady Elyaski
    January 25, 2018

    Totally agree, I was so tempted to buy one, but since my 2007 Car had HUD already it was kinda useless to have Navdy although it might have had more features than what my Car provides.
    I also second #4 of not providing SDK for 3rd party providers to integrate into their system which is a bummer. They could have leveraged a huge amount of data out of that.

    Anyway my friend, if it ever goes out on you, know that you still have a $12 option B: BZseed Head Up Display, Car HUD Phone GPS Navigation Image Reflector, Cell phone Holder Mount, Universal Smart Mobile Cell phone Holder Mount – Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DJXD4HK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_19HAAb4PDCC6Y 🙂

    Keep blogging!

    1. MNassar
      January 25, 2018

      Thanks man. This is quite interesting, does it need specific apps?

      1. Shady Elyaski
        January 25, 2018

        Yup! There’s a bunch of them on the AppStore 🙂

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