In the first part of a series of interviews with the Eloy team, today we’re chatting with Damian Horton, Eloy’s Co-Founder.
Hi Damian! Can you tell what your role is at Eloy?
As a co-founder I need to juggle several roles, including product management, finance, analytics and general start-up management. In the last 2 weeks, we’ve managed a large app update, completed a research project with a University and presented Eloy to a number of potential business partners. One day I would like to narrow this down but for the time being it is great being active across multiple areas.
Damian Horton – co-founder of Eloy
How did you first get started in AutoTech and InsurTech?
Eloy is my first step into AutoTech and InsurTech but it is bringing a few closely related areas together – something the Eloy team is doing to address a very new start-up space.
I studied mathematics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, with my postgraduate thesis being on traffic flow algorithms. This was before the iPhone and Googlemaps and based on many hypothetical car simulations such as how traffic jams are created around a simple road layout, such as a loop. My thesis professor was on the BBC a few years later describing how Phantom Traffic Jams are created.
Eddie Wilson from the TRG and ‘The One Show’ demonstrate the formation of ‘Phantom Traffic Jams’.
The market is now very different, with the power to create new traffic management solutions through mobile phones and inbuilt car technology.
I have worked in the insurance industry before Eloy, including portfolio investments and risk capital management. This experience will become more useful as we see a transition from insuring the human to insuring the software.
And how did your career develop?
My route to start-ups was through finance, both at investment banks and investment management. I was hired to build financial models to analyse pretty complex investments that used similar maths equations to traffic modelling: queueing theory and decision mathematics.
After some time in finance I moved into start-ups as a FinTech founder. One business, Huffle, was aiming to be the first Australian neobank.
I soon got the bug of start-ups and with the soon to arrive driverless car market, my start-up and academic experience has seen several great opportunities in the car market.
How do you see the car industry changing in the next 10 to 25 years?
The one big change is that the age of human driven cars is coming to an end. We already have vehicles on the roads able to navigate and drive without a human, although they are legally not allowed to do so and they can just navigate pretty simple road layouts such as motorways and parking.
For my children growing up, there is a real chance they will not learn to drive. Instead they may solely rely on machines to drive for them. This new driving experience will provide a huge opportunity for many, including bigtech through to new entrants such as Eloy.
What do you do when you're not building Eloy?
I enjoy spending time with my family. This includes dropping children off at weekend activities, schools and nurseries – so I’m hoping to use Eloy for a lot of time when I am out of the office.
What most excites you about Eloy?
A bit of an academic challenge but when researching for my thesis – and this was pre-iPhone and GPS – there was a very limited way to deliver any substantial solution. For motorway traffic, the only option available at the time was to lower the speed limits from 70mph down to 60, 50 or 40mph and this was only possible in some areas with digital road signs.
Now the solution can include altering driver routes, being more dynamic and specific on speed limits, offering digital rewards and micro-payments, mass-coordination to optimise times for everyone, alter suggested departure times for non-critical journeys. All of these will feed into a new road-network system that will eventually include on-demand tolling. This may just appear as a surge pricing on a driverless car or as a direct traffic management tool – and the most exciting part of all is being part of creating the solutions that will reduce traffic and improve road safety.