How Champ Titles is transforming DMVs by digitizing the titling process

Dealing with departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) when buying, selling or registering a car can be a slow and cumbersome process laden with paper-based systems and outdated technologies. Cleveland-based Champ Titles Inc. is tackling these delays head-on by digitizing the titling process with blockchain-based technology.

Champ’s innovative Software-as-a-Service solution provides a secure and transparent system of record that enables car dealers, fleet operators, insurance carriers and lenders to manage assets more efficiently and streamline the titling process through the DMV.

“The problem we’re solving is that the pace of commerce has continued to speed up while the pace of titling has not,” says Champ CEO Shane McRann Bigelow. “We aim to speed up the pace of titling.”

As more users recognize the benefits of Champ’s solution, the pace of growth at the six-year-old company is similarly ramping up — with 300 percent growth last year alone. Now, following its recent $18 million Series C funding round, Champ is poised for more growth ahead.

Transforming transactions

For decades, dealers primarily bought and sold automobiles in a five to 10-mile radius around their dealerships, Bigelow says. But over the last five years, online transactions have inflated that radius to 900 miles on average — unleashing interstate title transfers and lien movements that current DMV systems aren’t equipped to handle.

“Dealers could be waiting five to eight weeks to get a title so they can sell the car,” he says, “and every single day, that car is depreciating.”

Dealers often pass those depreciation costs onto consumers in the form of higher prices. But by accelerating these transactions through Champ’s digitized titling solution, dealers can turn cars around faster, insurance carriers can settle claims quicker and lenders can move liens sooner — saving time and money throughout the process.

“If businesses can solve that speed problem, their relationship with the DMV can be more efficient, and they will pass on the cost savings to the consumer,” Bigelow says. “When you move these transactions at the pace of business, then dealers can charge less for cars, lenders can lower their interest rates and insurance carriers can reduce premiums.”

In West Virginia, the first state to adopt Champ’s solution (and the first to embrace Champ’s National Digital Titling Clearinghouse), it used to take 45 days on average to process a title. Since implementation, Champ’s technology has shrunk that turnaround to about half a day. Likewise, in New Jersey, liens that used to take weeks to process are now “nearly instantaneous,” Bigelow says.

Managing rapid growth

With this momentum, Champ grew about 300 percent from 2022 to 2023, and Bigelow expects a similar streak this year.

“We grew about twice as much as we expected last year in terms of new contracts being signed and new products being rolled out,” he says, “which is a problem, but a high-quality problem.”

Managing that rapid growth requires support from inside and outside of the company.

“First, you have to have investors who are willing to invest upfront,” Bigelow says.

Champ’s recent Series C funding raised $18 million to fuel this ongoing growth — bringing the company’s total financing to more than $45 million to date.

The second key, he says, is hiring the right talent, realizing each stage of growth requires different skills.

“Sometimes you need people who can ideate. Sometimes you need people who can build repetitive processes, and sometimes you need people who understand how to activate customers,” Bigelow says. “What we’ve tried to do is persistently find good, quality people who are smarter than me and give them a lot of leeway to build and scale this company.”

Harnessing talented employees is a delicate balancing act.

“You have to create an environment where innovation can occur,” he says, “but you have to marry it to the discipline and rigor around creating good technology that works.”

Looking ahead

As exciting and fulfilling as it is to be a young company riding the wave of rapid growth, Bigelow points out that it’s not always easy.

“When you go into an industry that has largely been the same for the last 40 years, the people who have spent their entire careers in it often don’t believe that change is possible,” he says. “The challenge is people saying ‘no’ all the time.”

Even as Champ accumulates success stories and statistics from states that have adopted its technology, convincing prospects to take a chance is still an uphill battle that requires relentless persistence.

“‘No’ has to be treated as a stumbling block on the way to yes,” says Bigelow, who’s continuously improving Champ’s offering and constantly looking ahead at the next milestone.

“As awesome as it is to say that we’ve taken a company from an idea to a reality that, by the end of this year, 30 million Americans will be using, I’m more focused on, how do we get to 100 million? How do we make government even more efficient? How do we enable the government to move at the pace of business and business to move as fast as possible?” he says.

“I suppose the answer is, Never be satisfied.”

Shane McRann Bigelow

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