When considering a second-hand car, it is sometimes challenging to know if it has ever been involved in an accident or if it has hidden damage. With the support from the Enterprise Europe Network, Lithuanian firm carVertical has been able to make the histories of second-hand cars across Europe clearer and more transparent.
Undetected damage or fraud can have a significant cost to the consumer and turn the lower price of a second-hand car into a false economy. According to Arnas Vasiliauskas – Founder and Chief Innovation and Product Officer at carVertical – mileage fraud alone costs European consumers up to €10 billion every year. "I live in a region where there’s quite a large problem of used vehicle fraud. It’s quite difficult to check, but it’s important for people to know," he said.
In order to make consumers more aware of the quality of the car they are buying, Vasiliauskas founded carVertical, a Blockchain-based technology firm aiming to compile relevant automotive data in order to give an accurate picture of the vehicle’s history. "carVertical is a provider of car history reports, something that you don’t get when purchasing a used car," he said. "It allows you to check the history, previous accidents, previous mileage, as well as pictures."
The road to carVertical began in 2017 when Vasiliauskas first had the business idea, despite lacking the finance to make it a reality. At the same time, the value of Bitcoin was surging, and Vasiliauskas understood that this presented an opportunity to raise capital. "We started with an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), but we were so successful that we didn’t need to turn to any other options," he said. Within days of the launch, Vasiliauskas and his team had attracted nearly 15,000 investors and raised over $20 million. The investment allowed Vasiliauskas to get carVertical up and running.
After establishing the business, Vasiliauskas realised that he needed support in accessing the relevant information in other European countries to broaden the Blockchain database. "We have the ambition to expand very rapidly and cover as many countries as possible," he said. "But the reality we face in Europe is that every country is so different, from the angle of data access, of legislation and of marketing. It’s not so easy." To overcome this problem, Vasiliauskas turned to the Enterprise Europe Network for help.
The Network had already provided advice and consultancy on the company’s growth, including support during the ICO and the provision of various incubation and acceleration tools. Now they were being asked to support the business’ internationalisation. "My idea was to have a partner in every country to make the job easier. This was the first step towards working with the Enterprise Europe Network," said Vasiliauskas.
"carVertical had ambitious plans," said Mantas Vilys, Director at the Lithuanian Innovation Centre and Network member. "Therefore, the Network had to act fast, and provided intelligence on local legislation and relevant contacts, as well as pre-arranging meetings."
Initially, Vasiliauskas created a wish list of countries that he was interested in expanding into, and for each country, the Network provided information on which authorities or organisations to approach for the data, how to comply with local legislation and how to market the business successfully. Using its contacts, the Network spread the message. "Step-by-step, we got feedback from different countries," said Vasiliauskas.
The Network’s support has had a significant impact on the business, and it has been able to achieve its goal of rapid expansion. Within just 12 months, carVertical has launched its product within 16 different countries. CarVertical has also created jobs in Lithuania, growing from 8 to 28 members of staff as a result of the Network’s support. Their revenue also continues to increase at a rate of 30% per month.
"The Network was one of those key factors that enabled us to scale our business fast," said Vasiliauskas. In terms of the future, carVertical intends to continue on the road to rapid expansion. "I believe that carVertical has big potential to grow internationally," said Vilys. "The Network will continue providing the support needed for growth".