In early 2019 Anthony Beilin and Benjamin Hay both left cozy corporate jobs to pursue their passion. Building a safety net for freelancers and the self-employed.
Anthony, Collective is new on the Insurtech scene, can you give us a brief overview of the company mission?
We are on a mission to give freelancers the benefits and protection they need and want. As more and more people change their career path and turn to the gig economy for greater flexibility and freedom they are often leaving themselves underprotected and without the support they require, causing a negative impact on their financial wellness. We are here to change that and give them the security and rewards normally reserved for big company employee’s.
And so far, what has initial market response been like?
There’s thousands of people out there from delivery drivers to masseuses and personal trainers who live in fear of even a minor injury, so honestly, when most people hear about the idea their response is “That’s great, now stop telling me about it and sign me up”. It really bolsters the team. Even our market research didn’t prepare us for the rush of interest.
Benjamin, what makes Collective unique?
Our products. They are exclusive to us, as we had to negotiate with industry insiders and spend vast quantities of time matching the cover to the pain points of the people we surveyed. Also the model of an insurance bundle exclusively available to people who are often priced out of normal levels of cover is, by its nature unique I suppose.
And how did you get into insurtech?
Having been launch director of Virgin’s ‘New Now’ social responsibility team I wanted to continue working somewhere that was akin to that in terms of impact. Also, obviously it’s partly generational, I’m in no way unique in this but tech as a force for good has always stood out as a place I wanted to go and so when this idea cropped up it seemed perfect. I had experience in social programs, Anthony was an old hand at the insurance game and we were both tech minded, so it was a very natural progression.
Anthony, what has been the biggest challenge of starting an insurance company?
Trying to do something new in a nearly 300 year old market is always going to present some serious challenges. First off, it’s important not to reinvent the wheel with a new, flatter edge. Learn and incorporate what you can from the old guard, even if, and this is another challenge there is some resistance from the industry. To most of the people I talk to the idea of removing commission or reinventing the risks associated with insurance for a new demographic is just unthinkable. Of course, any time you do something contrary to the status quo you will have your detractors, but we have been lucky enough to find those in the industry as committed as we are to innovate from the ground up.
And how has the Gateway helped you tackle some of these challenges?
Experience sounds like a cliche but it’s true. They have been working in finance for years and helped, not just with advice but by helping actually build meaningful conversations with the right people. As a partner they don’t just open doors, they point out the right ones to walk through and support you on the journey.
Anthony, which three items on your to do list are mission critical for 2020?
Obviously in such a competitive industry our goals have to remain somewhat guarded. What I can say is that we are prepared for whatever the new year is going to throw at us. Stick with our plans, believe in our team and, with any luck attract loads of customers. Mission critical? The same as our mission statement: make the world easier for freelancers.
How will you go about achieving that?
Great people, clear vision and shared purpose.
Both, what would be your advice to someone looking to set up their own company in the Insurtech space?
Benjamin: Get some advice, there’s a lot of people out there with a lot of excellent advice. Even bad advice can help you see where you don’t want to go, where you don’t want your company to end up either ethically, financially, or a thousand other contexts. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions you may feel silly asking. Your options are be embarrassed now, or embarrassed and unemployed later on. Don’t let pride put you in that position.
Anthony: Customers needs must come first. The industry has at times focused on the wrong things, but what is most important is helping build products that solve customer problems. Once you have that get a great team to help you deliver it. Easy enough.