- Describe your light bulb moment?
Most of the companies I’ve started and founded are based on itches I can’t scratch. What led me down the insurance path was an experience I had trying to get a quote for home insurance. I logged into my personal banking app, clicked on ‘home insurance’ and was redirected out of the app to a set of questions. The first question asked my name, and the second asked if I was a customer of the bank? It just amazed me that data wasn’t being used in insurance the way it should be for customer acquisition. Especially given that we as consumers, have become accustomed to online providers in other industries that remember our passwords, last orders, same payment card etc. Insurance just seemed so far behind.
- The biggest challenge your business is facing to date?
Covid-19 aside. In an industry where so many technologies are on offer, how you categorise yourself can often make or break you. This has been the hardest part to crack. I think we’ve solved for it by creating our own category. We call ourselves an ‘insurance operating system’. By nature an operating system is something you build on top of and connect into, rather than being used to replace existing technology. It also expands every department of a business – big or small.
- If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your past self?
I would definitely sit myself down and say, it’s all going to be fine. Just have patience.
- Tools/ tricks to perform efficiently?
I have a very busy mind. Before I go to bed I create a list of ideas or points I want to action the next day. I’ve actually found it helps me sleep better as well.
- Talk through your strategy in building a team around you?
Always hire people that are better than you – it’s a cliché but it is true. I’d also add that a startup team is very different to a scale-up team in terms of the mentality required. I seek out people that can deal with uncertainty and are comfortable mediating between two/three roles at a time. VCs often recommend ‘rock star’ hires from bigger companies but before bringing them on it’s really important they understand the role isn’t necessarily going to be straightforward or clearly defined.
- What has surprised you most about starting your own business?
Having had far too many of them…I think you forget how hard it is. Starting a business is easy. Actually running a company is hard. But no matter how stressful it is, the high points of starting a business, I think, are phenomenal – you’ll never find a better thing to do.
- What keeps you up at night?
Bloody ideas – my mind is my best and worst enemy. Solving problems with technology is just such a wonderful thought process. To see it come to fruition is what gets me excited, but it’s also what keeps me up at night because I’m always thinking about the next concept.
- Talk though one of your daily rituals?
I don’t really have many rituals. Since I’ve been in lockdown, I have begun to appreciate exercise again. Without a shadow of a doubt it should be part of my daily routine moving forward.
- If you could instantaneously gain a new skill what would it be?
I’d love to be able to speak many languages.
- What do you read/ listen to keep informed/ inspired?
I listen to Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcasts. He talks a lot about doing what you love and how you shouldn’t sweat the small shit (he swears a lot). It resonated with me really quickly and I found it quite useful mentally. I also love reading founder biographies, I’m fascinated by how people acquired their wealth and built their businesses – you can learn so much from others’ experiences.
In light of Covid-19, can you share impacts/considerations in the short and long term?
I saw an article on LinkedIn titled The driver for digital transformation – was it the CEO, the CMO or Covid-19? For the insurance industry, I think Covid-19 is definitely going to the driver which is terribly sad to say. Covid-19 has highlighted areas where digital transformations are required for unforeseen circumstances. For Aventus, in the short term business will be slow. In the long term however, I think we will actually benefit as I there will be large scale review and correction of systems and practices which our solution is well positioned for.