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Creating an easy way to interact with the DMV

Transforming the service of local financial institutions into a scalable digital product

in transactions
Example app screen or experience mapping artifact

ELS’ founders saw an opportunity when the Illinois Secretary of State asked for partners to provide online vehicle transactions.


A category-leading platform that allows banks, credit unions, currency exchanges and agents to provide vehicle and parking stickers in real time.


ELS has processed more than 30 million transactions worth over $3 billion.

Seizing an opportunity created by the DMV

ELS’ founders were owners and operators of regional financial institutions in Illinois. Among the many services they provide their customers were selling Illinois and City of Chicago vehicle registration stickers. The existing process was paper based and painfully slow, but was still preferred by many customers over a trip to the DMV.

When the Illinois Secretary of State asked for partners to provide a digital platform that would allow third-party agents–like banks, credit unions, car dealers, currency exchanges, insurance agents, libraries, and more–to provide real-time transactions with the ISOS, these operators saw an opportunity to not only improve their service to customers but to create a new business and source of recurring revenue.

Focusing on the customer experience created competitive advantage

Most of the potential partners building platforms for the ISOS were owners of large software applications designed to be used by car dealers or financial institutions. Vehicle transactions were just a small part of their feature set.

Partnering with Highland, ELS decided to focus only on vehicle transactions. In developing the MVP, Highland quickly honed in on enabling fast, intuitive, and accurate transactions between an agent and the customer standing in front of them.

After nailing the design of that transaction--including the complex integrations necessary with the Secretary of State Vehicle database--Highland worked with ELS to design and build the multi-layered reporting needed by ELS customers to track transactions, inventory, and financials, as well as the ability to automatically collect, transfer, and reconcile all related funds.

A successful launch required a go-to-market partnership

Highland doesn’t simply build digital products, we launch them. As a startup venture created by multiple business owners, ELS looked to Highland to not only design and develop the platform but also to help bring the ELS platform to market. Highland and ELS worked together to design a go to market strategy, and jointly executed against that strategy: reaching, selling, winning, and onboarding hundreds of new customers in the early days of launch.

ELS is now the market-dominant platform

ELS’ first platform launched in 2007, and has since grown to become the largest independent provider of vehicle transactions in the state of Illinois. The business and technology has expanded to also provide other services for customers at the state, city, and county level.

To date, ELS has processed more than 30 million transactions worth over $3 billion. Highland has been ELS’ digital product and software development partner since the very beginning and throughout every stage of growth.

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