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Dash cam developer sees a bright future for device
A father-of-two is proving he’s no crash test dummy when it comes to business.
Kieran Thomas runs ChilliBongo, supplying dashboard-mounted cameras known as ‘dash cams’.
These record images onto a memory card so that if the driver is involved in a crash, the footage can be emailed to the insurance company.
The cameras are proving a hit, thanks to a recent surge in so-called ‘crash for cash’ scams, which cost the insurance industry a whopping £400m a year.
Typically, tricksters slam on their brakes, forcing the car behind to crash into the back of them before claiming on the other driver’s insurance.
Mr Thomas said: “The cost of insurance policies has doubled in the past two years, partly due to ‘crash for cash’ scams and false injury claims.
“Many motorists are worried about being a victim of one and if you are, it’s hard to prove you weren’t at fault.
“By fitting a camera, a driver has peace of mind that if they’re involved in an accident, they will be able to prove what really happened.”
Abingdon-based ChilliBongo has also done a deal with insurers to offer discounts of up to 15 per cent off premiums, once the dash cam is in place.
Mr Thomas, 37, came up with the idea while working as a courier.
He added: “We did a lot of advanced driver training and had to retake our test every six months, which got me interested in safer driving techniques.”
A while later, while working as a web developer, he was attacked during a road rage incident.
He said: “I later thought that if I had had a camera in the car I could have given it to police.
“So, I started developing the idea and writing to insurance companies.”
He left his job to set up ChilliBongo in summer 2012.
The cameras, which are manufactured in south Korea and China, retail from £149.99 to £279.99.
A few months after launching, the firm was chosen from thousands of start-ups to take part in the BBC 3’s Be Your Own Boss.
Mr Thomas, who grew up in Cowley and now lives in Didcot with wife Jo, has had a number of commercial fleets show interest and is looking for investors.
As for his firm’s unusual name, he explained: “I was trying to find something that was fun and would get people’s attention.”
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