August 30, 2018
7 Things I Learned at Bold Penguin
by Ryan Hanley
After years of being an opinionated outsider, the author's first week as CMO has been an eye-opener about what insurtech is really about.
This is my first week at Bold Penguin… marking the true beginning of my insurtech life.
I’ve followed insurtech for more than three years, writing and speaking on the movement, but my vantage point has always been one of the intrigued outside observer.
And while one week does not make you a qualified insurance technology startup guru, here are my first seven insights after diving headfirst into my new role as chief marketing officer at Bold Penguin.
1) Small Business Insurance Is the Holy Grail
McKinsey & Company has been referring to the SMB market as one of the “few bright spots” in the property/casualty insurance sector for years now.
Because no one owns the small business insurance space. The marketplace is fragmented, and generally speaking the commonly accepted customer experience is poor at best. Yet, done right, small business insurance is a growing and profitable market segment.
This is by no means breaking news.
That doesn’t diminish the fact that no one has small business insurance figured out, (except maybe…), making the SMB market the holy grail of meaningful organic growth for the foreseeable future.
2) There Is No Road Map
In case you’ve never worked for a startup before, there is no road map for success.
Insurtech startups are creating solutions that haven’t existed before. Look at the work that Chris Cheatham is doing in policy automation at RiskGenius or Mike Albert and Allan Egbert are doing in open APIs at AskKodiak.
Quite literally, they’re making things up as they go along.
…because they have to. The work lives in uncharted waters.
My point is, just as insurtech startups must mature into the greater insurance ecosystem that has existed for more than 400 years, the more traditionally oriented organizations (and individuals) must accept the slightly more haphazard nature of startup companies.
Insurance carriers with open-mindedness to the realities of trailblazing startups will position themselves out front as the partners of choice for insurtechs mapping solutions for our industry’s most challenging obstacles.
See also: An Insurtech Reality Check
3) There Is a Race to Remove Friction
Research from a McKinsey & Company survey shows a 73% increase in customer satisfaction when customers reported they were pleased with the entire customer journey, not just specific touch points.
Winners and losers of the digital insurance revolution will be determined in the race to remove the most friction from the customer experience.
This doesn’t mean removing human agents or blowing up the traditional insurance carrier model. Rather, we must think of insurance as a service and create flow throughout the customer journey.
I joined Bold Penguin because it’s my belief that their solution will be the foundation upon which many winning agents, brokers and carriers build their unique customer journey.
Whether you partner with Bold Penguin or not, make no mistake, the race to remove friction is real and it’s happening right now.
If your organization is not having serious conversations about the customer journey, you’re already losing.
4) It’s Time to Ask “What if?”
It’s time for everyone to start asking “What if?” when it comes to the future of insurance.
- What if APIs are the future?
- What if customer experience is all that matters?
- What if we can’t build it ourselves?
- What if half our agency plant retires in the next five years?
- What if our carrier partners demand digitization?
Whether you believe these scenarios will come true or not isn’t the point. The insurance marketplace is changing rapidly and being prepared for all the “What if?” scenarios possible is the only way to survive…
…because no knows what’s actually going to happen.
5) Disruption Is Dead
From now on, every time you hear the words “disruption” or “disruptor” come out of a startup’s mouth, your insurtech B.S. alarm should leap to life, the blaring sirens and seizure-inducing flashing lights overwhelming your senses while an impenetrable B.S. Protection Barrier envelops your entire body like some scifi force field.
Seriously though, disruption is not the answer.
Instead, insurtechs should focus on collaboration, facilitation and integration with traditional partners, building on the previous foundation as much as possible and alongside where it does not.
6) Culture, Culture, Culture
I’ve seen first-hand the impact a toxic culture can have on organizational success.
We live in a tumultuous time for workplace culture. According to the American Psychology Association, the workplace continues to be a leading cause of stress (with 61% of Americans listing work as a significant stress factor).
We’re under more pressure to spend more time, to get more done every single day. Work-life balance has become a cliche joke.
While I believe in hard work, giving more of yourself than is asked in the job description and just kicking ass in general, organizational culture must be a fit to achieve our goals of world domination.
Here are three aspects of insurtech culture vital to success:
- Always put staff satisfaction first. An inspired team believes, an uninspired team blames.
- Never blame the customer. Period. Own your outcomes. The customer may not always be right, but the customer is never wrong.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. As an old mentor used to tell me, “Everybody ?s.”
I’m sure there are more. But these were the three most obvious to me after spending time at the Bold Penguin headquarters this week.
7) Your Story Matters
Your story matters as much as your product.
It doesn’t matter how amazing, revolutionary or game-changing your product or solution is, if your story doesn’t make sense, if people can’t connect the dots between your solution and how it benefits them and their organization, your product essentially doesn’t exist.
This is something we need to do better at Bold Penguin.
We’re not amazing at telling our story today.
We’re going to change that.
One of many reasons I joined Bold Penguin was that the whole story had yet to be told.
I feel like I’ve found a gigantic diamond just lying there on the sidewalk.
And while everyone else walks past, oblivious to the treasure they’ve just nonchalantly stepped over, to the trained eye all it takes is a craftsman-like approach to telling the story of what Bold Penguin can do for insurance agents, brokers and carriers to unlock industry defining value.
Having a great solution is the barrier to entry. For anyone to care about your company, you must to be able to tell your story.
See also: Innovation: ‘Where Do We Start?’
According to the most recent CIAB Market Study, “Driving organic growth, hiring and recruiting talent and enhancing the customer experience remain top organizational priorities” for the U.S.’s top insurance brokerages.
With 80% of CIAB’s responding agents and brokers listing “driving organic growth” as a top priority for 2018, it’s exciting to be part of a company working to solve organic growth concerns, not through disruption but through collaboration, facilitation and integration.
You can find the article originally published here on LinkedIn.
Click here to learn more about Bold Penguin.