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Embroker recently marked its third birthday, a milestone for startups that often means the transition from infancy to adolescence. In our case, in the past few years, we’ve grown from 0 to over 1600 customers, with more than 6x growth in premium last year alone. Alongside this growth, many of our customers are now using our platform to manage tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars across increasingly complex insurance programs. Now, as we embark on the next stage of our company’s lifecycle, I thought I would mark the occasion by sharing some of what we’ve learned along the way, as well as preview of what’s coming next.
Here are some of the most important lessons we’ve learned thus far:
Ignore the noise – focus relentlessly on customer results
As with any new and exciting space, it can be easy to be distracted by the buzz around Insurtech, with all the conferences, self-proclaimed experts, and debate about whether it is or is not going to ‘disrupt’ the industry. To our customers, none of that matters, and nor should it. It’s only by paying close attention to what does matter to them, to what you’re doing well, and especially to areas in which you could be doing better, that you can stay focused on the right things.
As a venture-backed business, it’s also crucial to remember that investors are not our customers. Trying to solve for what you think will be attractive to investors rather than what solves a real customer problem is a recipe for a business that may succeed at raising money but will never mature into a strong, viable business over the long term. Lastly, while investors have every incentive to flatter you, your customers will always tell you the truth – through their actions if nothing else.
Two of the things we’re most proud of at Embroker are the number of customer referrals we get and our incredibly high renewal rate, both of which we do not take for granted but instead work each day anew on re-earning that trust and loyalty.
Customers with high expectations are one of your greatest assets
Many of our customers at Embroker are CEOs or CFOs of growth stage tech companies or other complex, growing businesses. Some of them have never used another broker to buy insurance before and so don’t have a reference point for how the rest of the industry works. More than any other group, it’s these new buyers that will get frustrated by turnaround times and processes that are almost always mandated by insurance carriers.
At Embroker, we welcome these elevated expectations with open arms, even if sometimes they are impossible for us to meet because of the way the insurance ecosystem works, or at least the way it works now. One of our core values is to ‘exceed what’s expected’ and it’s impossible to do that if you give yourself any excuse to lower your standards, even if it takes extra work or just confidence in executing on a long-term vision, to achieve what you’re aiming to. Eventually, this loyalty to high, even unrealistically high, standards pays off in the form of a product that is much, much better than what otherwise exists.
Finding the right people is the difference between success and failure
Joining an early stage startup can be one of the most fantastically rewarding experiences one can have – both personally and professionally. But it’s not for everyone. Too many people flock to them for the wrong reasons, or even the right reasons, but without being prepared for what they’re signing up for. There is no reason for this.
It’s clear what success at a startup requires. it requires hard work, sometimes painfully hard, single-minded dedication, and the capability to persevere through what feels like endless obstacles. These are all traits that we don’t tend to embrace in other aspects of our society, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of people are likely better suited to working in traditional corporate environments.
For those that are deeply, genuinely excited about solving hard problems, however, and are willing to stick around when things get tough and see things through, I don’t think there can be a better path. It’s incredible what a relatively small team of people that share these attributes can accomplish. At Embroker, we’re hiring across the board to scale for our next phase of growth, see careers if this describes you and you want to help build the future of insurance.
A look ahead:
When we launched Embroker publicly back in October of 2016, I wrote “Rather than disrupting the industry, we aim to fundamentally improve it, to reignite the spirit of innovation that once drove it forward.” Our next step as a company will be a major step forward and bring us closer to that goal than ever. I’m excited to announce that this summer we will be launching our first proprietary insurance program, one we’ve built from the ground up, from the policy form to the underwriting, to be truly digital, and a step change improvement to any other competitive product in the market.
In the months ahead, we’ll make a formal announcement with the details of the program and the problems we’re hoping to solve by building it. For now, I can only say that I’m extremely proud of all of the work our team has done over the past three years to get where we are today, and incredibly excited about the path forward.
If you’re interested in learning how Embroker can help you intelligently insure your business, you can reach out to our team of expert brokers. Or, if you prefer to get started on intelligent quotes, create your Embroker account today.
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