Startupbootcamp recently sat down with Ott Kell, Sales & Development of Insly—one of Startupbootcamp FinTech’s alumni—for an interview to discuss challenges, successes and future of insurance. Before Startupbootcamp InsurTech was launched in 2015, Insly was a part of Startupbootcamp FinTech’s first cohort in 2014.

Insly provides a global SaaS solution for insurance brokers and agents to help them manage clients, policies, and payments by offering an easy sales workflow that covers the whole life cycle, from the first proposal all the way through to the renewal process. Insly just recently raised €1 million in seed funding, so we sat down with them to hear more about their successes, challenges, and how they see the insurance industry taking shape over the next few years.

Why Insly? What made you come up with the idea?

Risto:

Insly is a spin-off of our insurance broker company, IIZI, that we established 15 years ago and which is the biggest and technologically most advanced insurance broker in the Baltic States.
The idea came from comparing the technology and processes that IIZI was using to other brokers and agents around the world, and it was obvious that we could help many insurance intermediaries with our technology. So we just took the same technology that made IIZI successful and started to sell it as a SaaS solution to other brokers.

Where does the name come from?

Ott:

The name Insly is the result of combining the words “insurance” and “easily”, and these two words depict quite well what we are trying to achieve.

What are you trying to achieve?

Ott:

We are digitizing the insurance industry and more specifically the sales and policy administration processes of insurance intermediaries. With our product, brokers can increase their sales as well as cut administration costs considerably.

What changes do you see happening in the insurance sector, and what are your views on the future of insurance?

Risto:

It seems that the insurance industry is being marginally improved from different angles: claims handling, sales, policy administration, etc. There are start-ups offering services to existing players (Insly also falls into that category) as well as insurers and brokers investing themselves.

But the biggest disruption can come from peer to peer insurance sector but that sector is still in so early phase and they are clearly struggling with countless barriers. I believe in it and I am keeping fingers crossed that there will be some kind of breakthrough in that.

What are the challenges you faced with promoting your idea across the insurance sector?

Ott:

The most difficult challenge we faced was establishing trust in the London insurance market. The UK market is very conservative, and for newcomers to get their first customers is not easy at all. But after approximately 1 year of active sales on the market, we have proven that our product and service levels are so good that the London insurance market is ready to use our product.

How big of a part does the UK market play for Insly?

Ott:

Today, the UK market makes up more than 50% of our revenue. We have an office in London and a full-time employee as well, but most of our business can still be managed by travelling to London, and very often customers also like to visit our Tallinn-based development center.

Why Startupbootcamp? How has the FinTech programme helped you?

Ott:

Startupbootcamp helped a lot with connections, presence, and marketing in the UK market (both toward customers and toward investors) and we cannot undervalue how much it helped us to set our focus during the program. For us it was really the driving force for spinning the company completely out of our broker business and getting established in UK.

What are your successes and your achievements to date?

Ott:

Our biggest achievement is by far the fact that Insly has made good progress in selling the product in the London insurance market and that we already have customers from 20 different countries. This proves two important things for us:

  1. Our product is geographically scalable
  2. We have managed to prove our product and sell it to the most conservative market—the London insurance market

We are also one of few start-ups whose business model has been the same since day one, and we have been earning income from customers also from day one. This year, we aim to hit 1.6m Euros in revenue and we aim to finish the year with break-even run rate.

That proves a third important thing: our business model makes financial sense.

So in terms of the future, we just need to work a bit more on how to scale more sales and execution. And then we are ready to raise more money to scale our business up as global SaaS solution for the insurance industry.

You just announced the closing of 1 million EUR financing round. Where did the majority of the investment come from, and how do you plan to use it?

Risto:

The investment came from numerous angel investors from UK, USA, Estonia, Switzerland, and Germany—initial Insly founders also participated in that round.

The investment will mostly be used for strengthening the company’s development team and for mapping out new potential markets for growth. The good thing is that we are already operating on break-even so we can really use that money for growth, not for covering existing loss.

What would you like to say to fellow entrepreneurs?

Risto:

You don’t get it right in the beginning anyway, so if you have an idea that makes sense then just start executing. Business is quite simple, you don’t need to be very smart, you just need to start doing. The journey will be your teacher.
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