Start-up snapshot: Making vehicle insurance quick and simple in Nigeria

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Start-up: AutoGenius, Nigeria

Nigerian online insurance platform AutoGenius was founded last year by Kola Oyeneyin, CEO of the parent company, Venia Group.

The website allows users to search for vehicle insurance quotes from a multitude different insurers, compare prices and buy using a variety of payment methods, such as mobile wallets and bank transfers. Customers with validated insurance can also use the platform to report claims.

Oyeneyin shares details regarding the founding of the business and its operations.

1. Give us your elevator pitch in 100 words or less.

There are 15.5 million vehicles on Nigerian roads, and approximately 750,000 new and used vehicles being added annually. Only about 2.5 million of these are insured at any given time. AutoGenius was founded to insure every vehicle in Nigeria, one at a time, by providing access to comparable rates and brands anywhere, anytime.

2. How did you finance your start-up?

Our seed capital came from our parent company Venia Group, for the development and launch of the platform. We decided, post launch, to bootstrap before we embarked on fundraising.

3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

One of the most important factors driving insurance volume is marketing, aggressive marketing. With $1m we will get extremely creative, disruptive and aggressive in our marketing strategy and execution to ramp up volume sales. It will also enable us to activate our growth across other insurance products, which we are licensed to sell.

4. What risks does your business face?

Trust! As simple as that sounds, AutoGenius faces two levels of trust risk in the industry: one being the online payment system, and two being insurance in general. While online transactions are gaining gradual traction in Nigeria because of the surge of e-commerce start-ups that emerged in the last four years, Nigerians are still highly sceptical about using their debit and credit cards online. The integrity of online platforms are still always doubted, which is why some start-ups adopt the ‘pay on the delivery’ model. Unfortunately this doesn’t work for us. Notwithstanding, we’ve seen a high degree of adoption of our platform since launch.

Secondly, historically Nigerians’ trust in insurance companies has dropped significantly for a number of reasons over the years. Coming into the industry as a tech company, we are banking on our excellent customer service, speed of execution and timely processing of claims to change this.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Word of mouth. Approximately 50% of our customers have been referred by other customers, and we have seen a high number of returning customers too. This tells us that our focus on customer service is yielding great results.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I have had a number of moments, as this is our second start-up under our parent company. However I’d classify AutoGenius’ launch day as the most exciting. Being able to successfully create a disruptive idea and platform, and getting key stakeholders in government, the insurance industry, regulators and customers to buy into it, was truly fulfilling for us as a team, and exciting for me as an entrepreneur.

7. What has been the biggest mistake you have made in your start-up, and what have you learnt from it?

Not being careful in the selection of our developers. The UI (user interface) of our development phase took longer than expected simply because of the scarcity of competent developers.