Reinventing Insurance > Launching an Insurtech – Week 5

Week 5: Base Camp on Mount Insurance

In the fifth of our five diary posts covering the buzzvault journey from November to January, we follow Founder & CEO Becky Downing as she reflects on the past 12 months and our lead-up to launch.

At a start-up, months sometimes come and go leaving little trace of their passing – like meltwaters slowly working away deep inside a glacier. And then, in the course of a single day, a massive ice floe sheers off, and a new way forwards is cleared.

Trying to make it in Insurtech does sometimes feel akin to trekking over an icy mountain. And the glacier (of course!) is the centuries-old insurance industry.

Scratch the surface and, like any good glacier, insurance is chock-full of mummified ice men, dead woolly elephants and out-of-place boulders. All of which must make way for something new. But these changes take their time. Which is why, today, I give you my reflections not on my past week but on my past year – our past year – bringing buzzvault to market.

So, where were we 12 months ago? Well, we had an industry – home insurance – crying out for reinvention, stacks of ambition and a bright idea about how we could use household inventory data to make customers’ lives easier. But that was about it.

It wasn’t until last February that we secured our underwriting partnership, the first step of many steps on our path to launch – some harder than others.

There’s nothing like a road block, I find, to bring into focus just why you got into a business in the first place. For me, it certainly wasn’t to build a tech stack. We wanted to solve a real problem for real people, and create a home-insurance offering based on trust, transparency and loyalty. And if you’re committed to that ultimate goal, it’s amazing the number of hurdles you can overcome, by graft or by guile.

It took us 9 months working closely with our underwriting partner to redesign the home insurance policy from the ground up, with brand-new rating and pricing structures. But we got it right, and all the rest – claims managers, policy-management partners and billing systems – slowly but surely fell into place.

Until, with October 1st, we had a day perfectly exemplifying the glacier analogy. After months of silent, steadfast toil, we achieved FCA-regulated status and passed User Acceptance Testing – all on the same day!

The past year hasn’t all been about external milestones though, it’s been about growing the team we need to take buzzvault forward: from IOS and Android Developers to marketeers, UX ninjas and cybersecurity experts.

And, at this point, I’d be committing an injustice if I didn’t shout out to my MDs of Insurance. I manage a business with many different facets to it; buzzvault is just one part of a broader customer journey reimagining not only insurance but moving home and, fundamentally, the way we manage our possessions. So, Charlotte Halkett and Darius Medora – thank you for keeping the buzzvault train moving, and me sane! And, while we’re at it, thanks as well to Roe our CSO and John our CTO for the leadership they’ve shown in bringing our cutting-edge tech to market and for being the driving force behind our stellar team.

And there’s more to our launch story still. Field of Dreams gave us the fabled line: if you build it, they will come. Except, as every entrepreneur knows, this is a lie.

The world is full of great ideas – many of which have been turned into great products. But if you want to run a successful business, you have to put yourself out there, you have to shout yourself hoarse, you have to stand in the rain. Only then, and with a bit of perseverance, grit and, yes, luck, will the customers start to come.

So, 2018 was a big year on stage for buzzvault as we worked tirelessly to get our message out to the world.

In May, we were at DIA Amsterdam, where we picked up a DIAmond Award. October was all about Insuretech Connect; and it was fascinating to see many of the same problems in the huge US home-insurance market as we’re tackling here in the UK.

buzzvault isn’t just an app, it’s a way of making home insurance all about the customer, and one we believe can indeed work in any number of markets.

But if there’s any lesson I’d pass on to other start-ups, it’s this: the difference between success and failure is not ideas, it’s execution. Yes, have the “big picture” and the belief to make it a reality – but break your journey down into measurable, manageable and achievable steps.

Launching buzzvault and selling our first policy has been an amazing, exciting achievement but we’ve really only reached base camp. The real fun starts now.

If you want to be one of the first to trial buzzvault insurance, then sign up for our bonus below – we’re offering you a £40 Amazon voucher in exchange for becoming one of our early adopters.


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This diary piece was first published on Insurance Post. For more info on home and contents insurance, check out the buzzvault guide to contents insurance.