“What the world needs is more love and less paperwork,” Broadway actress and singer Pearl Bailey once observed, and the sentiment rings true for many a Porsche owner. The paperwork accrued over the lifetime of a classic car soon adds up and wading back through reams of it for the sake of one receipt can prove a chore.
After experiencing his own in-tray pile up, Custodian’s CEO and co-founder Charles Clegg envisioned a way to change that once and for all. As a lifelong car enthusiast and former 1986 911 Turbo owner, Charles has first-hand experience of the documentation that can rack up. This can be especially true for restoration projects, as parts and work from different suppliers become a lot to keep track of. “If nothing else, I want to actually help my own people,” he explains. “These vehicles are very easy to love, but they’re not easy to own.”
Teaming up with his childhood friend Jeremy Hindle as Chief Technology Officer and award-winning technologist Nathalia Rus as Founding Engineer, the trio set out to do just that and co-founded Custodian. By creating an account on the Custodian platform, users can create a digital version of their garage, upload photographs and documentation, and help keep everything safe and in order. You can add multiple cars and tailor reminders so that you don’t miss any appointments or maintenance that needs your attention.
“Our ambition is to not only make the user experience easier, but to also make the ownership of specialist cars – such as classic cars or performance cars – more accessible,” Charles says. For prospective buyers, finding information about classic cars – maintenance that they might need, common issues, peculiarities of a particular model and so on – can involve trawling through a vast array of websites, which may not necessarily be practical or efficient. Custodian aims to streamline that, so that users can narrow their searches to a particular make and model.
A marketplace function so dealers and buyers can interact through the platform and sellers can use their accounts to show the documented history of their vehicle will also be launching soon. The founders hope that having this in a digital format will also appeal to younger prospective owners, so that a new generation can continue to love and care for enthusiast models too. “By ‘enthusiast’, we mean somebody who cares about their car. It’s not only for super-high-value cars,” Jeremy adds. “People who really love their cars and who look after them properly, documenting everything because they know it’s important for the value of the car. They know that the provenance is just as important as the enjoyment, so that future generations can enjoy it too.”
If a sale is made, the car’s profile can be transferred across to the new owner through the platform. “You can select what’s to be transferred and what’s to be kept just for you,” explains Nathalia. “But we don’t want to become this very dry platform where everything is seen as a transaction or sale, or just admin stuff. We also want people to feel free to put on the platform the emotional elements about the cars – pictures of themselves, their families, their children with the car – and not worry about privacy. When you transfer your car across to someone else, you have an archived version of your car with your own emotional features on it if you wish to keep them.”
Custodian is a community – with more than 500 Porsches already registered – and is keen to act on feedback. The results of this have already included the development of QR codes so that users can share their vehicle’s information more conveniently.
No change is too small, either. “One of the smaller bits of feedback that we got recently is people wanted to be able to list the very specific branded paint colours instead of just raw colours, but still being able to search by the base colour,” Jeremy explains. “It’s very important to stay grounded and as close as you can to your users.”
The founders will also be attending car events and are always keen to hear new ideas and suggestions. It is free to users (and always will be), so that you can spend more time doing what you love and less on filing. Custodian’s ethos may be summarised as “less time doing the admin, more time at events driving your car” and has been made by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.
For more information about Custodian, please visit custodian.club