Introducing Matt Harvey of Coastline Academy

Why did you decide to create a driving school business?

We’re a tech company on a mission to modernize the “learning to drive” industry. Before we launched our school, we interviewed over 100 customers about what products could help them become safer drivers. What we learned is that most new drivers are receiving a sub-optimal driving school experience. We had to launch Coastline Academy to do right by drivers in California—to give people an experience they will love so they can learn to be safer, more confident drivers—and ultimately make the roads safer for everyone.

What were you doing previously?

Before this I was a product manager at a tech company in Palo Alto, and before that I led product at USA Today Sports. I’ve been writing code for most of my life and blog about applied machine learning.

What do you do for the company?

I lead our product and tech, which means right now I write a lot of code. We apply cutting-edge tech to help give our customers an experience they will love. This gives our customers the ability to book everything online, and also gives our instructors the freedom to manage their schedules in real-time, all through our web app. We’re also working on advanced schedule and location optimization, and soon we’ll begin work on an automated coaching system that leverages the latest advances in machine learning.

Every product manager knows you have to get out of the office to learn from your customers, so I also teach driving lessons! This keeps me connected with our users’ needs so we can focus on building the right things at the right time. Plus, teaching people how to drive is super fun and rewarding.

What are your goals looking forward?

We’re currently focused on building a great driving school. Ultimately, we want to eradicate car crashes, so as we evolve and learn from our customers, we’ll bring new products to market, like automated coaching and evaluation.

How is it working for you here?

We’re a distributed company, which means we don’t have, and don’t plan to have, an office. Satellite @ Los Gatos is an ideal place for me to work as it’s a  6-minute bike ride from my house, is located right downtown, it’s quiet, and the coffee is hot. Plus, the people here are awesome. I highly recommend it.