Driving home for Christmas – a look back on an unprecedented year

Ho ho ho, it’s that time of year again. Zoom cocktail parties are in full swing, we’ve kissed goodbye to mistletoe, and Santa Claus is figuring out how he’s going to deliver all those presents while following the rule of six.
Car Christmas Decoration

Eloy want for Christmas …

This is the second Christmas the Eloy team has been working together and it feels fitting to summarise what has happened over the last 12 months.

Embryonic beginnings

This time last year we were still finding our feet. 4 months after quitting our jobs to pursue the exciting world of apps, cars, and insurance we were bringing together everything we had learned in those first few months. We just about had a demo app that we’d built for Android and were starting to test voice controls. Appearance wise we knew it wasn’t a finished product, but it meant we could start building a database and back-end intelligent system that was able to perform a few routine tasks related to app actions.

TechHub pitch night to bootstrapped business

Our early plan for Eloy was to raise external investment which would allow us the freedom to grow the business quickly. At the beginning of the year we were working from TechHub, an Old Street shared office space. As part of the great work they did supporting startups they hosted monthly demo nights with the chance to pitch to investors.

On the 3rd March we presented a very early version of our product, clearly struggling in a room full of people who did not have a car. However, we got some useful feedback and met a couple of potential investors. But as it turned out this was the last time the Eloy team were together for the rest of 2020.

With the Covid pandemic getting more serious by the day we decided it was safer not to travel into central London for a while. A week later we were asked to self-isolate, and by the end of the month the whole country was in lockdown.

Sadly, TechHub did not survive Covid and it went into administration in August. We hope that the team who made it the great place it was will be able to bring something similar back in the future.

London In Lockdown

Locked down London during the morning ‘rush hour’

Due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid and the reduced opportunities to get out and woo investors, we decided to look for alternative revenue streams to keep us afloat while we worked on the business. We became a Crown Services Supplier, working on government tenders, and offered consultancy services to other businesses including retailers and EdTechs who were having to quickly shift their focus to digital. All the time we continued to work on Eloy, but the additional cash coming in meant we had a much longer runway.

Pushing ahead with iOS

We decided to shift our focus to building an iOS app for a couple of reasons. Apple has much stricter criteria for getting an app into their App Store so we reasoned that any challenges we faced and overcame for Apple would be simpler to solve when it came to building for Android. We were also aware that other startups, including Monzo and Caura, tended to release iOS apps first.

Unfortunately lockdown meant we had limited opportunities for any sort of customer testing, even guerrilla testing in coffee shops or pubs, so we focused most of our attention on the backend and framework knowing that we would have a robust platform that we could build features on top of when we were able to go out into the world again.

Android iOS

Android Eloy vs iOS Eloy

Android iOS

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late – Reid Hoffman

By the end of the summer we had a fully working iOS app and in November we rolled out another release with even more functionality including voice controls.

Understanding the challenges facing insurance

A year of looking at insurance models and how insurance has changed and in some cases adapted to the pandemic has been fascinating.

There were big US IPO success stories such as Lemonade and Root. And Hippo raised some serious cash ahead of its planned IPO in 2021. Closer to home Urban Jungle, ByMiles, and Laka, who are all attempting to disrupt the insurance industry, closed big funding rounds.

A number of InsurTech acquistions including Prudential’s $2.35bn acquisition of Assurance IQ also fuelled a lot more attention on the sector.

Motor insurance is particularly exposed to some of the changes that are coming down the line. Electric vehicles offer near-time difficulties as the way cars are made, fixed, and maintained will dramatically change.

Connected and autonomous cars offer risk on the horizon and as we enter 2021, systems such as ALKS (Automated Lane Keeping Systems) will start to be tested in the UK.

Connected cars will also mean that there is significantly more data available. This may mean a complete change into how insurance is assessed, and we think that new services will be created based on this data.

There is still much uncertainty around driverless cars. Uber has stepped back from robotaxis, selling its driverless car division for the knock down price of $4bn (£3bn), whilst Amazon-owned Zoox appears to be pressing ahead with the unveiling of an electric robotaxi that can travel at up to 75 mph.

Connected car research

Towards the end of the year we teamed up with a well-regarded UK university to deliver a research project. We can’t reveal too much about this at the moment but will have more details in the New Year. What we can say is that one of the goals of the project was how can we use mathematical models to understand the overall benefit new technology solutions can bring using real world data to create robust estimates.

Our small project team built a number of models and believe that we can reduce traffic and the resultant pollution by 7% and 15% in a particular scenario and where drivers are using the Eloy app. That is exciting!

What we are looking forward to in 2021

As we move into 2021 we have lots of new plans in the pipeline. We will start to wind down our bootstrapped revenue lines which will give us a lot more time to focus on Eloy and we will become truly full time for the first time. We will also be revealing more solutions as our data analytics and user base expands.

Boy In A Toy Car At Christmas

Have a Eloy jolly Christmas …

Revenue opportunities will be assisted with our experience as a Crown Supplier as many of the benefits of connected cars are for communities, such as reduced traffic, lower pollution, and better road system planning, and these usually need local authority input.

We hope to take on more research projects too which may include further work with our current university partner as well as partnerships with other organisations.

Getting through 2020 has been a challenge for everyone. We have all had to adapt to a new way of living. At Eloy we have learnt an awful lot about ourselves and our business and as we head into a new year we’re looking forward to building on everything we have done over the last 12 months to deliver a brilliant product that will help drivers and businesses have a better road experience.

Happy Christmas!