Navigating Insurance, Trust, and Hard Work: An In-Depth Interview with Daniel, Founder of SureIn
Hi Daniel, please tell me about yourself.
I studied business and economics and founded two companies during my studies – one SMB agency and one B2C SaaS focusing on personal security. After this, I started working with you at Axel Springer Plug & Play and learned a lot from other entrepreneurs like Maximilian and Valentin from N26 or Julian from Dentolo (exit to Zurich). During this time, I met one of the board members of Signal Iduna and was hired to build up their digital business arm. I also served as interim Head of Corporate Development for the insurance group, mainly working on larger M&A deals and strategic investments for the Group. During this time, I worked a lot on SMB insurance propositions and decided to leave the insurance firm to start SureIn.
Can you tell us how you got started in the industry?
During my time at a German insurance company I worked a lot on assessing and building SMB insurance propositions and discovered the huge challenges SMBs face and the big market opportunity that lies in SMB insurance.
Realizing what is fundamentally flawed and building a product in a huge market segment that can make a difference for millions of businesses really excited me to start SureIn and is now also guiding me through dark times because I firmly believe that we are building something meaningful.
What kind of person are you, and what strength do you bring to building a company?
I genuinely believe that hard work pays off and I’m trying to live by that day-by-day.
As a founder you have to be resilient and trust in your inner compass to guide you through times of storm and situations that feel impossible to solve.
A concept that was introduced to us by Sequoia is that the company scales with the founder and the team and this is a mantra we are trying to follow at SureIn.
It is not about having a good performance one day and then having a mediocre performance on the next one, it`s about constantly delivering results - then you achieve compounding progress as an individual, team and company.
What exactly does your current company, SureIn, focus on? What is the product that you’ve been building since you founded SureIn?
Currently, SMBs are getting ignored by the market and are really unsatisfied with their insurance experience. According to McKinsey, 65% of German SMBs are unsatisfied with their insurance experience and almost one third have gaps in their insurance protection.
They key problems we see and that we are trying to solve are:
The uniqueness of each SMBs risk profile – from the verticals they operate in, their business models, and the changing risk profiles. We see a lot of one size fits all approaches in the market which works for B2C but lead to misinusrance in SMBs. For example a lot of Craftsmen have a mixed risk profile because they offer a range of services to their customers - i.e a traditional electrician risk is different from photovoltaik risk and this needs to be reflected in the insurance coverage.
Intransparency and complexity of insurance products - we don't see any ambition to take out intransparency of coverage or innovate on first principle problem of helping SMBs understand what risk they have and which insurance products are actually relevant for them.
All market participants are pretty much transaction focussed and don't put enough emphasis on after sales and ongoing insurance management. Managing insurance portfolios is a daunting task, causing businesses to juggle various carriers and tools, often leading to incorrect coverage or outright negligence of risk updates. Consequently, SMBs face the prospect of receiving only partial claim payouts or, in the worst cases, no payment at all – a situation that puts their very existence at stake.
We are trying to fix these fundamental issues by creating an operating system for risk and insurance management for SMBs.
Our independent platform creates a single risk view by integrating into various data sources , our search and matching engine finds the best coverage for every risk profile and we keep track of risk changes and automatically adapt customers’ insurance portfolios.
Our automated back-office and focus on self-service enables customers to get core insurance products without any human interaction and is the foundation for scalable acquisition while maintaining low costs. For high-margin products, we streamline servicing to make the sale for our in-house agents as smooth and efficient as possible.
We expand one vertical by another and make sure that we fully understand the underlying risk and service demands of a vertical and build the right product solutions for them.
How do you prioritize which sectors to serve first, like gastronomy, retail, and beauty? Are there other industries on the horizon that could benefit from SureIn's approach?
As our go-to-market strategy, we were focussing on the gastronomy segment first.
The rationale was that it offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture changing demands and benefit from large industry frustration with incumbent offerings, accelerated risk affinity and cost pressure due to covid-19 and inflation. This segment has attractive average baskets, was easy to enter due to low competition and is a large niche with high revenue potential.
Since then, we expanded into various other verticals - retail, beauty & wellness, services, craftsmen and property management. We selected those based on various criteria.
In general, businesses are attractive that have exposure to risk, and therefore insurance coverage is essential for them or the mindset to buy insurance is there. Besides, we considered the overall market size, basket size potential, customer mindset, competition landscape and distribution options.
Going forward, we tackle one vertical at a time to provide a best-in-class product and service experience and with our industry data insight will expand our model and develop our own insurance products and feed them into the mix of our proposition to then replicate that approach by expanding more industries. Our other expansion opportunities will be even more exciting as we expand into a different risk segment - stay tuned!
How do you ensure the personal service feature remains scalable as SureIn expands? Do you foresee using technology or AI to maintain this balance?
For our customers it's most important to get high quality service fast - the channel and means of communication are secondary.
Our vision is that the SureIn platform functions as a purely digital sales advisor, providing potential customers with automatic offers and customized information on various insurance products. This enables customers to make informed decisions quickly and easily.
Customers can obtain an overview of their risk and existing coverage with digital consultation taking place through our self-serve platform and NLP chatbot to provide a fully digital customer journey. We will always have experienced advisors in our team but our ambition is to free them up from every request technology can solve.
Currently, our services include automated risk pricing for top-of-the-funnel activities with inbound leads, partner leads, and referrals, as well as coverage and continuous risk management. Human consultants support our digital journey wherever needed.
We are intensively working on improving our self-service journey, enabling instant offers for various verticals and products and automating major services i.e. risk monitoring. In the future, they will only provide services for more complex high-margin products that are not easily automated.
What has been the most challenging and rewarding aspect of your journey with SureIn so far?
Fundraising was definitely a humbling experience where I learned a lot about the company and myself.
Generally, riding the rollercoaster of ups-and-downs while maintaining a constant positive spirit personally but more importantly for your team and business partners is a constant challenge. But in the end, if you are driven by personal development and growth, starting a company is the best thing you can do!
In the beginning, you worked together with atlantic labs and then sequoia arc. What were the learnings of the collaboration? Now with pact, Robin Capital, what are you looking forward to? What makes a good round, why these investors?
Building a business is very hard. As a founder, it is your duty to increase the chances of success and your investor base is an important driver of success. At SureIn, we are trying to build a cap table that helps us navigating the company building process. We are very proud of our cap table and the diverse experience we have built.
From legendary investors like Sequoia we learnt how to build the company foundation of a category defining business, Atlantic Labs was our first believer and strongly supported us on our journey from zero to one.
I feel very privileged that I can text George from Sequoia and Lukas from Atlantic at any time for advice and they are among the first persons I contact when I have an issue I want to discuss.
With our lead investor Pact we have a strong alignment on our company mission and with the cohort of new investors including Robin Capital, we purposely added more entrepreneurial experience to our cap table.
I’m proud of the circle of partners we have built at SureIn, very excited to work with all of them and hope that many of them will become people I call first when I want to discuss a business challenge.
What’s next for your startup and where will it lead to?
Today, we use data mainly for improving top-of-funnel acquisition and distribution.
We validated that users are buying insurance products through the self-service journey, match individual risk with the best coverage, can automate core insurance processes like transfer accounts, contract cancellation, and request documents, validated 3rd-party data integrations, can read relevant data from the transaction account, offer a vertical-specific policy check and comparison and create instant recommendation for various verticals.
Next months will be all about automating more of the funnel, optimising our self-service journey and streamlining risk assessments via external data integrations. We are working on tech-enabled risk monitoring to proactively adapt policies. We will collect data across products and verticals to get a more holistic understanding of customers’ risk.
Due to the platform approach and 3rd-party data integrations which allow us to analyse risk and insurance products in context to the overall risk profile and insurance portfolio we will have a holistic view in real-time and independent of carriers.