LegitCar — Meet the startup working to make it impossible to resell or use a stolen vehicle in Nigeria

by | Sep 20, 2018

This article is a Brand Press post. Brand Press is a paid service for brands that want to reach Techpoint Africa’s audience directly. Techpoint Africa’s editorial team doesn’t write Brand Press content. To promote your brand via Brand Press, please email [email protected]

Our service, LegitCar, enables individuals and businesses ensure they do not buy or handle stolen vehicles. This is made possible by our web application at www.legitcar.ng

We just introduced a really important product, referral links and codes, giving car-related businesses with functional websites an opportunity to offer the same service we offer at www.legitcar.ng and then earn some percentage on every theft-status check made through them.

All they need to do is create a LegitCar user account by visiting www.legitcar.ng and provide us the account details, we will then activate the referral link, enabling them seamlessly integrate our service into their websites in an integration process that should last less than thirty minutes. They need not worry about codes, they have already been written by our super-efficient tech team; all they need to do is just copy and paste on their websites or app.

Once this is done, a theft-status check can be initiated from their websites.

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Please also note that we offer our APIs & discounted user accounts for theft-status checks for users that would prefer that.

Basically, LegitCar aims to solve the problem of vehicle theft in Nigeria by providing automated vehicles theft-status check for individuals and businesses. The ultimate aim of this service is to ensure that stolen vehicles cannot be successful resold to innocent car buyers, or used successfully by someone else; thus we work to intercept these stolen vehicles at the point of resale, maintenance, etc. serving as an effective vehicle-theft deterrent, and making our communities and country a safer place to live in and do business.

LegitCar was conceived sometime in 2016. One of us wanted to buy a used car; saw a car he liked, the price was fantastic, but there was no way for him to be sure the vehicle was not stolen from someone else. Having heard stories of people losing their money and getting into trouble for mistakenly buying stolen vehicles, it was not a situation he would like to get into. We saw that gap, formed a team which comprises of former school mates from the University of Uyo, Vincent Okeke (CEO), Samuel Ogbujimma (CTO) and Inimfon Ukpong (CTO), we sat and brainstormed a couple of times and LegitCar was born.

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Vincent Okeke (CEO)

Between September 2016 to July 2017 we did a lot of research around this problem, developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), opened our web application to the public to use free of charge, and about three months ago we started charging N1,000 for every theft-status check.

 LegitCar was developed for two categories of users:

The Individual Users, and the Business/Enterprise Users.

The Individual User just needs to visit www.legitcar.ng with the Chassis Number/Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the vehicles they want to verify, put it in the space provided at the homepage and follow the instructions. It costs N1,000 to access this service, and this payment is processed by Paystack. The result of the search is displayed immediately after payment, and a copy is also sent to the email address provided before the search. Victims of vehicle theft can also visit www.legitcar.ng with a valid Police Report to report their missing vehicles.

Car related businesses with functional websites can integrate our referral links into their websites and get a percentage on every completed transaction initiated through them. There is also the API, and discounted User Accounts options for businesses and Enterprise users.

One of the biggest challenges we had starting this service was access to data on missing vehicles in Nigeria. Data not readily available, so we had to go out and source this data ourselves from Insurance Companies (AXA Mansard Insurance PLC was particularly helpful), Vehicle Tracking and Recovery Companies, and victims of vehicle theft. We currently have about 1,100 missing vehicles details in our database and still have a long way to go. Funding was not one of our biggest challenges as we developed everything about LegitCar, including our web application, by ourselves. The seed funding we needed to do a lot of other things were contributed by the founders, and then HiiL Innovating Justice, The Hague, Netherlands also supported us with some training and grant funding.

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 It has been a rough journey so far, but we truly expected it to be tougher. Last year we were named one of the best Justice Innovations in the world by HiiL Innovating Justice, The Hague, Netherlands, and this gave us the opportunity to pitch our innovation in one of the most iconic venues in the world, The Peace Palace. We won the Productivity category of the Techpoint Build earlier this year. We are also in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme for 2018.

We currently have about a thousand active users monthly, and seventy of them are paying users. We currently do not run any ads so all of our users are purely organic users. We have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with www.carfacts.ng the Nigerian arm of www.carfax.com, this means that in a few weeks’ time all vehicle reports requested from Nigeria on www.carfacts.ng will also show if the vehicle has been reported stolen in Nigeria or not. Also www.motosellers.com and www.regexpress.com.ng have integrated our referral links into their websites meaning that theft-status checks can also be initiated from their websites. We are also expecting some other businesses to be done with their integrations in the coming days.

It also worthy of note that we have provided information leading to the recovery of three missing vehicles since last year, and get an average of three missing vehicles reports per day. Sometimes we get up to five in a day, and expect this figure to increase significantly once we are able to reach more users through publicity.

On Government support,

 The first Government Ministry to recognize our efforts was the Ministry of Finance. They featured LegitCar sometime last year in the YouWin Connect Enterprise Programme as a business capable of solving a real-life problem. The publicity we got from the feature was instrumental to some of the things we have achieved till date.

Then the Ministry of Communication Technology followed by formally endorsing our innovation as capable of adding value to law and order in Nigeria.

We are also currently working hard to secure a partnership with the Police which is really taking longer than we expected, but we are hoping to conclude this soon. This partnership will enable Police Officers to be able to determine in seconds if a vehicle has been reported stolen through their mobile phones, even without an active internet connection. This will make it impossible to successfully use a stolen vehicle anywhere in the country. To this end, The British Council arranged for us to introduce our startup to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was thrilled, and we are currently looking forward to a formal presentation to the Presidency.

Our software correctly decodes Vehicle Identification Numbers/Chassis Numbers so it will also indicate if a Chassis number has been tampered with or altered.

In the next couple of years we will be the biggest player in the Nigerian vehicle security space. We want to get to that point where people will need no one to remind them that once a vehicle goes missing the next place they go to after the Police is www.legitcar.ng. Also before anyone touches a used vehicle, the first place they go to is www.legitcar.ng

It was the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet that stated that “You can’t get a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant”. Executing a project like ours takes time, so we cannot say we have already made significant progress in our journey to make Nigeria a much safer place to live in and do business. But we are making slow and steady progress.

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