Connected vehicle technology to manage and respond to car crashes
Collision Management Systems
A lightbulb moment
Charles Smith was an undergraduate when he had an idea that would see him drop out of university to start a multi-million pound business.
“I was researching car crashes for my materials engineering course,” Charles explains. “It became apparent that telematics providers didn’t have a clue about what data insurers really needed – and equally insurers weren’t clear on what data was available.”
The firm's technology has delivered average savings of £1,600 per collision claim and reduced false reporting from connected vehicles by 99%.
After an introduction by BGF, the firm appointed Stephen Lake, a senior independent director at Ordnance Survey, as non-executive chair.BGF Talent Network
Charles launched Milton Keynes-based Collision Management Systems (CMS) in November 2012. His idea was to aggregate data from the growing number of connected vehicles and help logistics and insurance companies better manage the risk of covering remote workers and drivers. By bringing together this complex data, his customers can identify employees who are accidents waiting to happen.
With the help of private angel investors, CMS received its first funding in May 2013 – two months before Charles had been due to graduate. Charles used the capital to develop the first iteration of his software. “We spent the first three years just building the product,” he explains. “Usually tech companies just build it and flog it right away. We took more of a British engineering approach.”
On Christmas Eve 2016, Charles got an early Christmas present with his first major client, global insurer Swiss Re. Two months later, Tesco followed suit. “We went from real start-up bootstrapping to delivering our software on a global scale,” says Charles. But the company’s rapid growth brought its own challenges. “We were swinging between delivery and sales,” Charles explains. “We just didn’t have the bandwidth to do both.”
BGF's investment has allowed CMS to...
Strike deals with household name brands around the world.
Hire eight new full-time staff to support international growth.
Set a path to double turnover every year.
In July 2018, BGF came onboard and invested £1.25 million to enable CMS to continue to grow. Charles chose BGF because of its “refreshingly different” approach.
“They let you get on with running your business,” he explains. “They really bought into our journey – and we liked the fact that we could have a proper conversation with someone who wanted to go on that journey with us.”
BGF also introduced CMS to its non-executive chair, Stephen Lake. “You only grow a business on people and Stephen has helped us understand how to build a really effective team,” says Charles.
The investment has helped CMS continue to grow and make deals. The business now works with a host of household names around the world, including Eddie Stobart, Whirlpool, National Interstate Insurance, Zurich and Pioneer. Following initial success, BGF announced a second round of funding in early 2020.
BGF let you get on with running your business… they really bought into our journey – and we liked the fact that we could have a proper conversation with someone who wanted to go on that journey with us.
Charles Smith, chief executive of Collision Management Systems
Initial investment from BGF in 2018. Follow-on funding was announced in early 2020.
Rapid growth ahead
“We’re the victim of our own success,” Charles explains. “Our rate of growth means we need to bring more people in faster.”
The funds will enable CMS to make eight new full-time hires to support its international growth. With its sights set on the US, rapid growth looks set to continue.
“In 2020, we’d like to achieve at least half a million from the US and keep trying to double our overall turnover for as long as possible.”
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