In years gone by, starting an insurance company was a seriously long, drawn out process. It could take years to get fully up and running, not to mention piles of cash to plough into all the authorisations and capabilities you needed. But how things have changed! Nowadays, it’s possible to get set up in just a few months, on a much lower budget and with an infinitely smaller team than you needed, even ten years ago.
One of the big reasons for this is the number of incredible online tools and cloud-based resources that there are available now to help you. We seriously couldn’t have built Hokodo in the timescale we did without a whole range of these services and partners. So, in tribute to them, and to help any other aspiring insurtech and fintech entrepreneurs looking to do the same, we thought we’d share our top 10…
(Note: We’ll come back to our proprietary tech stack in a subsequent article — this post is about public resources which can benefit to the whole community.)
This is really a game changer and a massive time saver for any startup. SeedLegals provides a library of useful documents you’ll need at various stages of your journey, including founder agreements, IP assignment and work contracts. You also get one single repository where you can store and manage your documents, collect signatures, collaborate with team members and investors, and track edits. They have various packages depending on your needs, as its ultimate focus is to help you manage a funding round from start to finish. We didn’t use that functionality due to how things panned out for us, but it looks like it streamlines the process enormously.
Insurance is complicated and comes with approvals, regulatory and compliance hurdles that other startups don’t have to face. Becoming an appointed representative of Innovative Risk Ltd (trading name Worry+Peace) was a critical step on the path to becoming an authorised MGA (managing general agent) in the UK. Several providers can help insurtechs become authorised but we found W+P to be professional, speedy, and well-versed in the trials and tribulations facing startup businesses.
Getting access to risk capacity is another prerequisite for insurtechs to start trading. One path is to build your own balance sheet (à la Alan or Lemonade) but that means going through the onerous and time-consuming process of getting a primary insurance license. So instead, like most startups, we decided to start by partnering with an existing (re)insurer. We analysed proposals from more than half a dozen (re)insurers, but SCOR’s P&C unit Channel came out on top due to their pragmatism, ability to execute within our ambitious timelines and real understanding of the insurtech scene (in particular through the great Will Thorne).
As we’re in the business of B2B insurance, we need to be able to carry out accurate and comprehensive background checks on the companies that we insure, to give us visibility of their financials, ownership and other history. For this, we use DueDil, a comprehensive database of private company information, served up by REST API, making it easy to integrate into our underwriting and KYC process. The interface is super easy to use too.
We couldn’t do anything without GitLab. It started in the tech team but now the whole company is hooked, making it the single source of truth for product-market fit research, experimentation design and weekly sprint organisation. We’ve also found that FeatureMap complements it perfectly, as the UI is great for visualising the various features that we’re working on (something that we struggle to do in GitLab).
Anvil is a drag & drop web app builder that was super useful for building our first MVP. When we started out, we didn’t have a front-end developer, let alone a designer. We needed something that would make the process fast and simple, so we could test, iterate and prove our concept had legs. Anvil claims that building an app on its platform is seven times faster than with traditional tools. Our rapid launch is testament to its capabilities, which saved us valuable time and cash in the early days of setting up.
Handling lots of customer queries, requests and claims when you’re a small team can quickly suck up your time. We’ve found that Freshdesk streamlines the whole process, giving us one place where we can see and manage all our customer conversations from any channel (web chat, email, phone), take ownership of them and make sure nothing slips through the net. It also allows us to automate certain common and repetitive tasks, freeing up our time for other things.
Our favourite platform for tech recruitment, Hired.com is, in our opinion, unrivalled for its network of tech talent and ability to match you with the best people. It’s really easy to use, you just upload details what you’re looking for and it automatically throws up the best possible matches. They also vet all applicants to ensure they are actively looking, so you know you won’t waste any time on candidates who’ve already been snapped up.
Before we built out the data science team and developed our own suite of tools, Dataiku was very helpful to kick-start our machine learning research. It’s built for teams of data scientists, engineers and analysts to collaborate on projects, providing tools for finding, profiling, cleaning and visualising data. Hugely powerful, whether you’re just starting out or you’re working on more sophisticated projects.
CRM systems have a reputation for being a little, shall we say, cumbersome. But Pipedrive is different. As it’s fully integrated with your Google Mail, Calendar and other apps, it automatically logs when you’ve sent an email or set up a meeting, plus it will sync your conversations into the platform, so you have a record of everything in one place. We’re converted.
We’ve focused on our more specialist tools and partners here, but that’s not to say there weren’t others that made a huge difference. Chances are you’ve already heard of many of them as they’re pretty common these days (well, unless you work at a large corporate). But big up to…
And if you want even more tips, we sometimes draw inspiration from this very good list.
How about you? We’d love to hear about any other tools that you’ve used that have made a difference to the way you run your business? Post your suggestions in the comments below!