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October 27, 2022

Tech Leaders to Know: Reviver Founder Neville Boston

Tech Leaders to Know: Reviver Founder Neville Boston

What is the focus of your company Reviver’s technology?

Reviver is a digital license plate platform that serves as a gateway to connect, modernize, and bridge the siloed sectors within the vehicle ownership ecosystem— including DMVs, consumers, public safety, and dealerships. 

At the core, yes, there’s a cool factor in the digital plate aesthetic, but the real value is in the functionalities. 

Reviver offers a single communication platform for all things vehicle ownership—from registration, insurance, titling, tolls, vehicle history, geolocation, and much more. It’s as safe as an online banking session, which means there’s no limit to how the functionalities can expand in the future, including transactions and vehicle sales. 

What kind of an impact do you see Reviver having on automotive technology?  

I believe Reviver will play a big part in changing the vehicle ownership experience from something very analog and time consuming to something that's smart and innovative.

For the consumer, we are rehabilitating the public’s relationship with the DMV. People often hate the DMV because of the time, frustration, confusion, and hassle everyone associates with the institution. We are helping this by connecting DMVs across the country, and improving many of the processes for all parties involved.

For commercial fleets, we've developed the technology to streamline fleet management, tracking all vehicles, speed indicators, maintenance needs, compliance and more within a single pane of glass.  

For auto dealerships, we can serve as a streamlined single source of information for compliance and management at every point in the vehicle lifecycle—at testing, transport to dealerships, test driving, temporary tag, permanent plate, title. All of that is very manual and a hassle for dealerships today. 

The strongest investor partnerships we’ve had are with those who have built and operated businesses themselves, and understand what success looks like firsthand. 

Tell us about the genesis of the business’ founding and growth.

Reviver is a story of something that grew from the ashes of the 2009 recession. Around that time I was exploring new business opportunities and was in touch with a friend who had worked for the California state government for 10 years. That friend told me about a recent visit to the DMV, complaining about how inefficient it was and how it had ruined his day. 

Boom – it hit us just like that. People have to go to the DMV and they hate it. From there, all the pieces started falling into place. Everything about our vehicles is digitizing – why not vehicle licensing, too? 

One thing we’ve learned is that bringing new tech to a heavily regulated industry requires strong coalitions and true public-private partnership. That is a value we adopted from the beginning and remains a driving principle at Reviver. Very early on we arranged a meeting with the California DMV Deputy Director of Legislation, who was so interested that he then offered to set up a meeting with the Highway Patrol. We shared our idea with a room full of law enforcement officers and saw them have that ah-ha moment. They asked us questions, and actually thanked us for coming in. They appreciated that we wanted their feedback and made them a part of the development process. 

That was the beginning of the journey in 2009. And we are now legal in California, opening up the technology to its 40 million vehicles. In the process, we’ve entered Arizona, Michigan, and Texas as well, and have about ten other states in various stages of adoption. Today we’re at an exciting inflection point where we have an opportunity for real growth and seeing the company’s vision through to fruition.

As a founder, what motivates you and keeps you going through challenging times?

For me, the motivation has always been that I made a promise. The initial investment that came in from people who believed in me—they were willing to part with their hard earned money to support my idea and dream. And that was in 2009, a very uncertain time economically for everyone. I took that promise to heart and was determined to see this to fruition. So in the darkest hours, after mortgaging my house to make payroll and all the other things that had to be done—that’s what got me through. 

What do you see in the future for Reviver?

Ultimately, I see Reviver and digital license plates becoming part of the vehicle lifecycle from end to end, supporting and managing the interaction of vehicles within all 50 states, and eventually globally. I believe digital plates will become the new norm and evolve to be a standard vehicle part integrated during manufacturing. 

Every state is in the process of changing their DMV and vehicle management systems, and we have the platform to connect information within and across states. All functions related to vehicles can now be housed in one place. This was the initial vision—to connect, modernize, and streamline a sector of life that has needed change for a long time. 

Do you have any advice for other founders, something you wish you had known at the start of your journey?

There’s certainly a lot I wish I’d known about how to raise money smartly and creatively. But I would say the biggest thing I’ve learned is you have to believe you are going to win and commit to get there at all costs. 

I have been geeking out on the Grit podcast, where the host, Joubin Mirzadegan, interviews company leaders about how to successfully scale a business. What resonates most is the idea that as founders and leaders, you have to truly believe that none of the normal factors around business apply to you. How businesses often fail, how hard it is to raise money—all of the things that would keep someone from starting a business. You have to believe you're exceptional. So I guess I always believed that whatever people couldn't do was because they decided not to do it. And, for me, I made a decision to do it. 

How can investors best support a company like Reviver?

The best investors are able to provide an honest assessment of where we are as a company and what changes need to be made. They also have the experience and connections to help us make introductions to potential customers and talent we need to bring into the company. 

The strongest investor partnerships we’ve had are with those who have built and operated businesses themselves, and understand what success looks like firsthand. Just knowing about how to scale a company in theory isn’t useful for a founder who is building something in practice and has to get it right.

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