Before creating Autogenius, Kola founded and grew the Venia group and its interests across technology, energy, investments, healthcare, consulting and more. Now the 34 year old entrepreneur is, in his words, poised to disrupt insurance, one of the oldest industries in Nigeria. It also seems that the larger online price comparison industry might also want to keep an eye on this genius.
TechCabal: What inspired the creation of AutoGenius? The value proposition is obvious; I am more interested in the actual chain of events that led you to decide that the service needed to exist and that you were the right person/company to create it.
Kola Oyeneyin: First I’m glad to hear that the value proposition is obvious, that’s what every entrepreneur wants to hear. Creating a product that actually has an obvious value proposition in an environment where hypes are the order of the day is credit to the amazing team that we have at AutoGenius.
About 8 years ago while living and working in the UK. I came back from work tired and so I forgot my wallet in my car in a very visible area near the gear stick. The car was parked in an underground car park where you’d think that security should be pretty tight. However, about an hour later after I remembered my wallet and ran back downstairs to check the car, “hoodie” boys had burgled my car, taken my wallet and everything inside. I mean if you know Manchester very well, that’s an everyday occurrence. What you do normally is to cancel all your debit and credit cards and begin all over again with banks’ issuance.
This was where my love for insurance began! I called my insurance company, I’d just bought their cover via an insurance comparison platform. I reported the theft and burglar case, and made a claim. Within one hour, Glass Fix UK’s van had arrived at my apartment, cleaned up my car of the broken glass. They brought the exact type of glass for my car, fixed the broken door, installed the new glass. All of this happened in less than thirty minutes. I was in love with them and with insurance!
3 years later, I hit a car that ran from a minor road into my part (it wasn’t my fault, haha). My car was totalled. The police came and filed their report. I sent a copy of the police report to my insurance company. Within 24 hours, they sent me a replacement and about a week later, I was paid the market value of that car, to buy a new one.
I realized that Insurance worked. I had tasted the value of insurance and I loved it.
Fast forward to Nigeria. I’ve been hit several times by people who don’t have insurance cover. I have heard so many stories of insurance companies that don’t pay claims. Friends and family members have been victims of fake insurance licenses bought from some random person that we now refer to as “One Guy Like That”.
I believe that I can redefine the insurance industry in Nigeria just by injecting some innovation that ensures convenience, trust, transparency, access and value. It is one of the oldest industries in Nigeria that hasn’t seen much of technologically advancement. That’s what we’ve brought in. This is what we’re good at, at Venia. Imagine the insurance industry experiencing a revolution like the banking sector did? The impact it’d have on our economy and the lives of every Nigerian?
Indeed. So what about the name “AutoGenius”?
AutoGenius because we what we do requires the mind of geniuses to make it work! I believe that it would take a Genius to fix the issues in Nigeria’s insurance industry today. It’s not easy to have numerous quotes from different insurance companies, compute and compare them to give our customers the best of value across board. Even though our “Genius” brand will be extended to other insurance products later, for now, the genius is working for Nigerians in the auto insurance space.
Price comparison needs data to work. In this case, from the Insurance companies. How did you come by it? Was it hard?
Hard is relative but I’d say it wasn’t easy. As Techcabal would know very well, data is everything today. Our partners have been exceptional though. AIICO, Custodian, Leadway, NEM and Royal Exchange have been incredible in the way they’ve conducted their business with us. It really shows that they are ready to add real insurance value to Nigerians going forward using the innovative tools and resources of today. We have been extremely fortunate to be working with the best of the companies in the industries who are technologically advanced themselves.
The technology powering the website is very functional. Is the talent behind it local or international?
We invested heavily in ensuring that the application is functional and extremely user friendly and we’re still working and investing time, money and effort. Is it local? We’re happy to say that AutoGenius’ backend was developed 100% in Nigeria. One of the concepts Venia Group as a company is promoting is that of local content. It was a very key part of our development phase to have AutoGenius developed in Nigeria, and we are happy to say we’ve achieved this.
Spark-funded Insured.ng is the competition. Do they pose a threat?
I’m sure customers know difference between myautogenius.com and any other platform out there. We’re not a lead generator, but a full-fledged end-to-end online insurance comparison platform. AutoGenius is fully integrated with Insurers’ backend, Nigeria Insurance Database (NIID), and by extension, Police and FRSC. You print your certificate instantly on partner with an SMS/Email confirming your policy purchase. We upload on NIID’s database for authenticity of our policies instantly. You can report your claim online via our platform; a function that is currently unavailable in even mature markets.
We even have offline sales options, in partnership with Onado Marketing, distributing insurance products across mega stations across Nigeria, and more retail avenues to come. In a nutshell, nobody does what we do in Nigeria today, but we welcome future competitors.
Will you be extending to other categories of insurance? Or indeed, price comparison in general?
Our plan is to throw the insurance space open to a whole new generation of upwardly mobile people who are gradually seeing the value in insuring their cars, homes, gadgets and like someone recently said, their … Watch out for the Genius across these different spaces. We basically want to make insurance cool!
Regarding ‘price comparison’, it is a very important factor in any e-commerce market. In the last 2 years, Nigeria has moved deeper and deeper into this space. I personally believe that checking prices across the different providers of any product or service is an important value to the ecosystem and to customers. There are a few challenges with this, especially around the openness of these e-commerce platforms. Who knows? You may see us there soon.