Bernie Moreno Launches CHAMPtitle in Bid to Disrupt Auto Titling

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click to enlarge Bernie Moreno ( CHAMPtitle will work, (3/22/19). - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Bernie Moreno ( CHAMPtitle will work, (3/22/19).
Auto dealer-turned-tech entrepreneur Bernie Moreno and business partner Shane Bigelow announced Friday morning that the technology undergirding their new digital auto titling company, CHAMPtitle, is "good to go."

Under the umbrella of Ownum, a tech incubator-slash-laboratory conceived by Moreno and Bigelow to "unlock business growth and make government more efficient," CHAMPtitle will be sold to U.S. states (and potentially foreign governments) in the hopes of radically streamlining the car titling process. Moreno testified from personal experience that the current paper-based system can be cumbersome and risky for consumers, dealers, manufacturers, and insurance companies.

Moreno called car titling an "elegant and simple" application of blockchain technology, one that was "completely and utterly different" from the world of cryptocurrencies and token sales. He said he considered Ownum, and the multiple projects under its umbrella, a concrete example of what the Blockland initiative is trying to accomplish: promoting and expanding tech entrepreneurship in Cleveland.

"I sold my successful dealerships to start a tech company out of a garage," Moreno said at a Mercedes dealership on Brookpark Road, where the press conference was held. "It's a nice garage, but still ... We're building a tech team right here in Cleveland. We've got to eat our own dog food."

Moreno analogized CHAMPtitle's impact to that of digital boarding passes on air travel, and said that he's confident state bureaucracies, which tend to move slowly, would be attracted to the CHAMPtitle software — after a robust and transparent RFP process — because they'd instantly see a cost savings.

Ownum's Chief Solutions Officer is Randy Cole, who was hired earlier this year after serving as  Executive Director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. Moreno said that under Cole's guidance, the goal is to have CHAMPtitle operating in a "handful" of states by as early as the fall, and to be working in many as a dozen states one year from now.

Bigelow outlined the technology in broad strokes and said that unlike "electronic" titling, which merely puts paper records on a computer screen, a fully digital system (built on private blockchains) means that car titles, and relevant information about a vehicle and its ownership history, would be instantly available on mobile devices.

While Ownum will pursue related applications in the near future — a company called Vital Chain to streamline birth and death certificates; a company called Digi Tags to track transferable tax credits — Ownum is still in the "pre-revenue" phase and the local team of 15 has been "working round the clock," according to Moreno, to build out CHAMPtitle in the hopes of generating cash flow for longer term projects.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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