Failure generates success

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have the time to attend the StartUp Grind 2018 Global Conference, sponsored by Google (and other big names), in San Francisco. It was a congregation of a few thousand delegates made-up of tech business-starters and entrepreneurs alongside a collection of well-known tech founders and pioneers up on stage from companies such as Tesla, Canva, PayPal, Fitbit among many others, giving some fascinating insights.

I was there for 2 reasons. One, I have a new homeowners proposition that I am working on at the moment. Having not started a business of my own in 15 years, I wanted to see the various ways I could bring a new tech proposition to the market first-hand. Secondly, a lot of the clients I work with at Arun Bay are considering some kind of “tech” solution to help drive new business, to become more efficient or to drive higher customer satisfaction levels and maintain retention. I wanted to see, among all the exciting stuff breaking new ground in the consumer world, where insurance, a grudge purchase, might sit.

Insurtech ranks low

Not surprisingly, not a huge amount of airtime was devoted to the consumer-facing application of tech to insurance (the back-end use of AI and machine-learning did feature though). While those of us in the industry are excited about the opportunities that data, analytics and technology might bring, in the context of a broader consumer tech space, our profile is quite low. Yes, there was some crossover with other fintech applications that might spin-out into insurance but, as for pure insurtech, not much was said.

The other, perhaps surprising, theme that was referred to time and again by the speakers, was that of failure. More specifically and although easily said, not to regard failure as something to be afraid of. Each of those, now, very successful individuals speaking on stage referred to the numerous occasions on which they had failed, and the high ratio of failure to success when venturing something new. There was an audible sigh of relief from newbie founders around the hall as one after another speaker reinforced the theme of not being afraid to try something new. In fact, they confirmed that the only way to succeed in delivering something new and different is to try and fail, sometimes on numerous occasions, but to learn from failure, keep trying and eventually succeed.

Bringing the low appeal of consumer insurtech together with the theme of failure got me thinking. Engaging new and existing clients in an intangible product that is generally an unwanted purchase is hard. Over many years, the insurance consumer has become imbued with cynicism as to the motives of the insurance market, the value of the product, and its service, they’re reluctantly spending money on.

Opportunities to wow

But it is precisely in this cynicism where those speaking at that recent conference would say the opportunity lies. You don’t have to be radical, but why don’t you try something new? Give your customers something they’ve never experienced from brokers before. That could be as simple as reaching out to them at a time other than when you’re asking them for money. It could be something more complex like offering new and more convenient ways for them to do business with you, a new product, report a claim or to let you know that they’re thinking of leaving you before they actually do.

Whatever the “it” is, don’t be scared-off trying “it” by the fear of failure. It might not work, in fact first time around it probably won’t, but keep trying and, above all, learning, and you will see success eventually come.

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