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Unleashing the Endless Potential of Dealership Data Through Unification with Prasad Chavali

  • March 14, 2024
19 min read
Unleashing the Endless Potential of Dealership Data Through Unification with Prasad Chavali

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Prasad Chavali
Co-Founder and CEO, Axel Automotive

Prasad Chavali is the Co-Founder and CEO of Axel Automotive. With over 26 years of experience in software design and development, Prasad Chavali spent much of his time contributing to numerous start-ups while growing his own team of developers in India. He graduated with a Master of Information System degree from Arizona State University in 1995 before starting his career as a software developer at a local contracting company in Phoenix. After partnering for a period of time in an Asset Management software company, Prasad ventured out on his own. Prasad likes traveling for business and pleasure and has logged over 2 million miles in the last 10 years across 12 different countries. He currently has ownership in 7 different start-ups and contributes technology to 2 non-profit organizations.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Prasad entered the automotive industry
  • What has changed and what hasn’t when it comes to data integrations in automotive industry
  • The endless possible use cases for unified dealership data
  • Prasad’s predictions for the future of automotive technology.

In this episode…

The potential that exists within dealership data is endless – it just needs to be unleashed. 

When dealers bring together the data sources at their dealership using a data unification platform, important patterns and trends begin to emerge from within the sea of data points. Once identified, dealers can take data-driven action to improve their business, engage with their customers in meaningful ways, and ultimately, build resilient, lasting business.

In this episode of Inside Auto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay speaks with Prasad Chavali, the founder of AxelOne DDP, a dealership data platform. They discuss the challenges of data integration in the automotive industry and the benefits dealers can unlock by aggregating and activating their data. 

Resources Mentioned: 

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar).

 Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform (CDXP).

Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences.

To learn more, visit

Episode Transcript:

Ilana Shabtay (00:02.801)

Ilana Shabtay here, host of Inside Auto podcast, where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform, CDXP. Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional hyper-personalized customer

To learn more, please visit All right, it is Tuesday. We are welcoming today Prasad Chavali Prasad, how are you?

Prasad Chavali (00:40.238)

Thanks for watching!

Good, how are you doing?

Ilana Shabtay (00:44.817)

I’m doing well. I’m looking forward to our conversation, getting to know you. Prasad is the founder and the mind behind AxelOne DDP, dealership data platform. AxelOne is a data platform that aggregates all of the first party data within a group, creating a bi-directional push-pull of customer and transactional data and making it available for financial, operational, marketing, and vendor partners in the industry. So really looking forward to the conversation. This is definitely my wheelhouse. I wanna talk everything data with Prasad. Before we jump into the good stuff, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in automotive?

Prasad Chavali (01:23.37)

Yes, definitely. I actually used to work in golf industry, believe it or not, you know, work with the PGA Tour and all that. And about 10 years ago, one of my friends said, I want you to build a salespeople training platform for my dealership. And I said, I don’t know much about the dealership. And he said, why don’t you go try to sell cars for a day? So I put on my dress pants and went into the dealership and worked with the internet sales guy. That was about, and it was quite a learning experience. I mean, he was using 20 different browser windows, cutting and pasting, creating content for the people. And then I came back and asked him, is this how it is? And then he said, definitely there is a lot of improvements that we can do with the software. So I started with that, and here we are 10 years later, trying to know everything about the dealer operations on the software.

Ilana Shabtay (02:23.341)

And where was that dealership? Can you share?

Prasad Chavali (02:25.854)

It was in Tempe, Arizona. It was in Arizona where I was living. And it was a Toyota dealership too. And he was getting so many requests and it was funny. Even 10 years ago, people at work were texting, right? Like internet leads. So there was no phone calls. He was just on the computer all the time replying to people. And during the day, he in fact sent like four different quotes to one person and he said, can I call you? And she’s like, no, I’m at work.

Ilana Shabtay (02:28.398)

Oh, good. And that’s a very competitive market.

Prasad Chavali (02:55.63)

keep sending me messages and I was like, oh, that was very interesting. So people do shop at work. I learned that they shop from anywhere.

Ilana Shabtay (03:04.873)

Yeah, especially today. I mean, 10 years later, I think people will shop literally anywhere. OK, so that kind of was your window into automotive. I’m sure in that moment, your head was spinning, all the things that you could be doing to help the dealerships just in terms of their operations optimizing. Now, before you went to Axle 1, did you go straight from there to Axle 1, or was it more of a process? Tell us a little bit about that.

Prasad Chavali (03:34.09)

It was a process while we’re building the training software, we were trying to get the data from DMS or some kind of information like sales information to the content we wanted to kind of really target the salespeople on what they do. And then when I tried my first DMS integration, it took me six months. I mean, I could not, I didn’t even know where to start. And people send me an email, you go to, so then I said, you know, how-

Ilana Shabtay (03:40.766)


Ilana Shabtay (03:54.93)


Prasad Chavali (04:02.134)

why is it so difficult to get all this data for something that we were trying to do the dealership? And then people said, oh, there’s just so many different integrations. So that’s when I started, okay, let me start figuring out all these integrations because if I want my software to be successful, I need to figure out where I’m gonna get the data. So started with the DMS and CRM, and then now we’ve probably done about 70 different integrations with automotive software vendors.

Ilana Shabtay (04:31.083)

beyond CRM and DMS.

Prasad Chavali (04:33.598)

Yes, I mean everything possible at this point. You know, it could be a chat software, it could be a car wash that the dealership owns that has a different database. It could be a QuickBooks and a collision center. So just kind of going after the raw data has become a mission to see why it is not all in one place. So it’s just not DMS and CRM as you said, we’ll try to get as much as we can.

Ilana Shabtay (04:58.217)

And do you feel like the industry has made it easier for us to integrate in the last 10 years? Or do you see the same hurdles 10 years later?

The reason why I’m asking is because I know this is a hot topic right now, and I, you know, vendors and softwares are putting an emphasis on open APIs, putting an emphasis on doing two-way integrations, but I don’t know if we necessarily see the action behind it, meaning everyone understands it’s imperative, but are they actually making it easier?

Prasad Chavali (05:33.686)

You know, it’s a tough question. I would like to say it’s getting easier, but it is not. Because here’s why. Technology keeps changing. So the same APIs keep changing. So you cannot just do an integration just to sleep on it, right? So you have to keep maintaining it. They will release a new version. All of a sudden you have a new dataset. So it’s an ongoing environment. And also, like I said, in the last 10 years, there are so many more providers. So it’s just not like a… You can do five or six big ones.

done with, right? So you have to keep constantly looking into every API. There are some big, you know, guys like, you know, Cox and CDK Reynolds, they definitely made it, you know, access a lot more easier in the last 10 years. But again, that doesn’t mean you it’s just one time and done. So and also additional data. I mean, they used to just do deals and customers and, you know, basic information. Nowadays, you can get almost

Ilana Shabtay (06:07.177)


Prasad Chavali (06:32.158)

a lot more information than you were able to 10 years ago.

Ilana Shabtay (06:36.061)

Yeah, interesting. And when it comes to Axle One, are you a platform that just aggregates the data in one place, or do you also have activation of that data solutions? Meaning marketing activation, sales activation, whatever it might be.

Prasad Chavali (06:55.074)

So we don’t want to call ourselves we’re doing everything, right? So there are definitely people that do what they do best like Fullpath is doing the engagement. There are other providers. My fundamental principle is let’s get the data to a format where the dealers start using their current vendors to do things better, right? So the vendor is getting have the data, we can give them more data, how can they do that better? So we don’t wanna go into every aspect of business and say, we do this, we do this. So we started trying to get the data and find the providers. So we’re pretty much agnostic. It could be the dealer group should be in charge of which vendor they wanna use, right? They will like, yeah, so if they decide to choose X, Y, and Z or like somebody particularly, we should give them the data the same way like anybody else. And then with that,

Ilana Shabtay (07:33.437)

Yeah, I respect that.

Prasad Chavali (07:45.67)

I keep finding we are more useful on getting the optimized data really available for the dealer so they can start making decisions quickly. So the other question you ask, once we got the data, without aggregating, the data is the next step. And then the minute you aggregate and you start having access to all this, boy, the use cases come out of every direction. People want to use the data for engagement, want to calculate salespeople commissions. They want to look at how many parts they have sit in idle, right? So these are not common reports, and there are people dedicated to the jobs to have that kind of information that we’ve never been able to analyze or provide as a report. I still get use cases that I never thought in the last 10 years, people coming and asking me, can I do this with this data? So the use case is once you have access to data, they invent themselves.

Ilana Shabtay (08:40.297)

Yeah, I totally agree. And I am trying to sort of picture what Axel 1 looks like in the back end. Is there a way, so I understand that your specialty is ingesting the data, integrating the data, making it very easy to talk to other.

platforms and putting it all in one place. Beautiful, I think the industry very much needs that. Is it, does it go one step further for the dealers in the sense that they can run queries on that data within your platform or is it something that you sort of have to custom build based on their questions? How does that work for the dealer?

Prasad Chavali (09:14.818)

So this is again a world over time. So initially we got the data in one place, right? And the dealer, if they want to run some Power BI or their own custom queries, they can always. So we give them the access to the full data dictionary. Here is all the data, here is where it is, and here is how we connected. So some people actually do queries themselves. But again, if you look at the dealership, they’re more better suited to sell cars, right? Not to build their own software systems. So they’ll come back and say, why don’t you give me this? And then we will use it to do our retail stuff better. So we did.

Ilana Shabtay (09:48.957)

And so you basically like run an SQL for them, send it back or how does that work?

Prasad Chavali (09:55.704)

We started doing our own API and say, if you want to know your balances for your finance accounts, click here and it will pull it for you. Then we started building reports. More reports is like, we thought we were a reporting platform, you’re really not. You’re actually giving snippets of data to the dealer what they want. Some people said, can you give me this, like last year’s people that bought tires and I can market to them, can you give me an extract of that? And we’re like, I guess we can. So we went back and looked up the data. So custom queries, very standard reports, like how can I get access to this data? And then on top of it, people are like, oh, how many customers do I have? This interesting CDP, so I was looking at Fulpa’s website, you have the CDXP, right, customer. So.

Ilana Shabtay (10:48.171)

Yeah, yeah, customer data and experience platform.

Prasad Chavali (10:49.866)

So having the customer data itself is not the whole point. How do you create that experience? So last year when I was in a couple of shows, they were all talking about how customer experience is going to differentiate one dealer from the other. So how can you use the data to really create that experience? Who is your customer for the longest? Who is very loyal to you? Who buys more cars? So we started analyzing this data and giving it to the dealers and saying, now give this to your vendors and ask for a better experience based on welcoming somebody saying, hey, thanks for being with us for 10 years versus what you’ve got again. Just creating that of a different shade using the data. So I feel like the data is just still unregulated. It’s almost like a gold mine. And as I started looking at historic data, people doing the surveys, there was almost like a snap moment when a customer stopped doing the surveys with the dealership.

and then you go and look at a CSI or surveys, they were not happy, right? You can literally connect which RO or which day that they were unhappy and stop coming to you. So you could have rectified very easily rather than finding out they’re inactive like six months later, right? So the data is there. You just have to find it and start using it.

Ilana Shabtay (12:11.709)

Yeah, and then the next layer for dealers, which I’m very excited about, would be putting in all the workflows and automations for that, right? So there’s a negative CSI, okay, let’s automate an email to those, that bucket to try to get them to come back, to understand what happened, and that’s all these different automated workflows so that you can extend customer lifestyle and bring them back. That is the power of data, meaning you have to have those automated workflows on top of the data so that you can actually activate it, use it, but…

Of course, the first step is unifying it, cleaning it, normalizing it, which sounds like you guys do. How far back do you go? Can you take 10 years of data and just clean it, cleanse it for the dealership?

Prasad Chavali (12:49.698)

We, since we do real raw data, everything that they have from the beginning of time.

Like I have dealer groups that we have the DMS data for 15 years. I know it may not be of any use, but at least I find customers in a group that buy from two or three dealerships and they’ve been with the same group for 15 years or 12 years. So loyalty does exist. So you just need to find. And then if you only look at from a single store, you may not think that they’re shopping with you, but they might have moved from a domestic brand to an import brand. So if you can look at from a group perspective.

Ilana Shabtay (13:01.885)

Well, yeah.

Prasad Chavali (13:27.364)

they may be still with you and they’re still loyal customer. So getting the data from every space, there was another funny incident happened when we were looking at all the raw data sources, a dealership bought the dealership from another company and they just didn’t even import the existing customers from 10 years ago. So when we found the file, there was like all of a sudden, hey, you have 40,000 more customers that you never knew existed. So…

Ilana Shabtay (13:53.785)

That’s incredible and that’s really impactful for dealerships. Which brings me to identity resolution. I’d love to know if this is something that you incorporate in the data cleansing process. Is that something that you guys do for the dealership? And if so, how do you approach identity resolution?

Prasad Chavali (13:56.747)

Yeah, it’s.

Prasad Chavali (14:13.698)

That is an ongoing task, right? There is no magic solution. So we started with taking everything at a group level, looking at a phone number and last name and see if they are.

you know, pop up in different places, start to kind of gather as much data we can based on that and start deduping, throwing away really old records that they had not much use. So for a group, I started with 1.5 million records. When we done our process, it was only like 1.1 million, like 50,000. So for…

Ilana Shabtay (14:44.217)

Yeah, that’s incredible. That just makes so much more of an efficient database. Yeah.

Prasad Chavali (14:46.306)

450,000 of records were just not doing anything or just was same person created over and over and over again. And imagine you getting four emails from the dealership group because they created four records for you. So how many emails we sent? Oh, we sent 1.5 million emails and our open road is only 6%. Well, that’s because you sent a lot of invalid emails. So we started doing that and then we started connecting you know, from like a chat software. You know, in chat software, some people give a phone number, some people don’t. So when we pull that information, all of a sudden, hey, our customer actually popped up on a website and just chatted with one of the agents. Let’s see what they were asking about. So this connecting of the data has been still very exciting for me. I keep finding new sources of where the customers pop in, you know, and then say they did.

They are popping up and all over. You just have to connect the dots and see how much they’re working with.

Ilana Shabtay (15:50.269)

Yeah, I think that’s a great use case of why identity resolution is so important. And are you able to push that back into the CRM DMS?

Prasad Chavali (16:01.21)

You cannot, because you don’t want to modify the original record, because there are transactions tied to a lot of those, right? So you don’t want to fix that. So a group started cleansing that data, but all of a sudden you start having this data that is not tied, it’s not accurate. So we create a version of the data and say, okay, this customer exists two times in your DMS, three times in your CRM, but it’s the same person and here are all the hooks. So we just create the hooks and tell the single version of the data and don’t want to go back and keep fixing the data because then you may overwrite something that you really don’t want to. But if you want we can push it.

Ilana Shabtay (16:39.325)

Yeah, that makes sense. Right, that does make a lot of sense. Wonderful, well this is, I mean, one of my favorite topics, so I appreciate you sharing with us what Axel One has been up to, but before we sign off, I’d love to know any predictions that you’re feeling, whether it has to do with data or not, AI, generative AI, anything that you wanna talk about when it comes to automotive in the next, let’s say, 12 months.

Prasad Chavali (17:01.874)

It’s funny you should ask, you know, I actually graduated in AI for my masters about 25 years ago. And AI has still been evolving and I keep looking at how AI is coming together. It’s very exciting, but AI is going to be as smart as the data you’re going to feed. And using a lot of garbage data, it’s going to make, you know, unnecessary predictions. So the cleansed data and also giving different viewpoints of the data to the AI engine is going to make a difference because you don’t want the same predictive results coming out of the algorithms. So I like what Philpeth is doing. I like a lot of new products are trying to come up with this AI to use the data better. You know, just chat, you know, creating chat and responses is the first step of it and making it so customizable from the data is going to change the way customers feel. So I’m very bullish on the AI using more and more data. So in the next two years, I think we will see a lot of innovation coming from almost a lot of vendors.

Ilana Shabtay (18:08.801)

Great, yeah, I agree and I look forward to seeing it. So let’s stay in touch and let’s see what happens in the AI world when it comes to automotive. Thank you so much for joining Inside Auto Podcast. For those that are listening, if you liked this episode, please tune in, insi You can find us on Apple, Spotify, wherever you listen to your podcast. Thanks again, Prasad, it was nice having you on. Bye bye.

Prasad Chavali (18:16.246)

Yes, thank you. Thanks for your time.

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