10:44 - Wefox's boring origin story
28:32 - Distinguishing between good and bad risks
36:20 - Not having a full calendar
37:22 - Working through stress with a coach
42:53 - Raising $650m in 4 years
Julian Teicke is the founder and CEO at wefox, Europe's largest digital insurer. Having studied Business Administration at the University of St Gallen, Julian joined Groupon in 2009 as an intern, only to be handed much more responsibility than originally predicted, due to his boss having had a burnout.
In 2010 he co-founded DeinDeal, and became its COO. After having left the company in 2015, he started wefox.
When he was originally approached by his would-be co-founder with the idea for wefox, Julian rejected it outright, because his own father was in the insurance business and he did not wish to follow in his father's footsteps. Eventually, though, he was won over by the idea's potential and decided to give it a fair shot.
The biggest insurance companies, despite their size, are nowhere near as big as the tech giants — their growth is too slow. Wefox wanted to become the exception to the rule and grow 100% per year. Here are some of the challenges they've faced:
- Margins in the insurance business are typically extremely low. This wasn't a problem in the past, because insurance companies had a second income stream: capital returns. Meaning, they invested the money they got from customers into capital markets and made capital returns. But in the 0 interest environment we're currently in, there are no more capital returns, so the focus needs to be on risk returns. This demands 3 things: using tech and data to reduce the loss ratio (= claims payout), decreasing administrative costs, and boosting sales.
- Capital efficiency: Julian's time at wefox has made him aware of the need for capital light models, where all the money they have is put to use in innovation and growth.
- Innovation: Big insurance companies have always been in a catch 22 situation. Over decades they attracted the most risk averse investors that request yearly dividends, meaning the money spent on these dividends did not get invested into innovation. But if they stop paying dividends, investors drop out. This is a complicated problem to puzzle out.
In just over 4 years, wefox's success won them $650m in a series C and a $3bn valuation. According to Julian, they'll be using the money to fuel further international expansion, and to transform their insurance products from reactive to proactive, in order to make a real impact in harm-prevention.
"The ultimate success for any startup is motivating people to do it themselves."
If you would like to listen to another episode with a DeinDeal co-founder, check out our episode with Adrian Locher.
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