Over the past twelve months, Cover Genius has been gaining recognition: they have been named one of the fastest growing FinTechs globally and have garnered a plethora of accolades to be proud of. But what we really want to know is, what is the secret to bootstrapping a global business through 1700% growth over the previous 3 years?
Angus McDonald, Co-Founder, and CEO of Cover Genius provides us with a few of his insider secrets that will help you grow your business fast.
Differentiate yourself in the market
If your new business is going to be operating in a competitive market, it’s crucial that you find a way to differentiate your business from all the competitors out there. In short, why should customers choose your products or services over what’s already available?
Competitive pricing and an excellent level of customer service are both great ways to keep your customers coming back to you, but they might not be enough to draw people in on their own. The most effective way of getting customers through the door in the first place is to spot a gap in the market and fill it. If you can provide consumers with something they can’t get elsewhere, or offer a significant improvement on what’s already available, your business will soon make a name for itself.
At Cover Genius, we were extremely focused and spotted an opportunity in the world’s largest industry, but it was an industry issue that we first had to endure ourselves. Specifically, the global insurers who relied on online distributors didn’t have global underwriting capability and coordination, nor did they have platforms that could deliver our preferred policies from a single API call.
The nature of partnerships has changed over the last five years. Start-ups like Cover Genius exist to resolve pain-points that are inherent for companies who would otherwise need to partner with incumbents. Strategic partnerships with the right companies can truly make a world of difference. It could allow you to reach a wide swath of customers quickly. Identifying those partnerships might be easier said than done. But, look out for companies that are complementary to your own. Contact them and propose opportunities for working together.
We’ve deliberately not sought outside funding. So, we have the freedom to run an efficient, focused business and not get distracted by external investors. The lesson we’ve learned is it is better to have the founders running the business, not out raising money. It makes a huge difference – but every case is different.
Happy employees, happy customers!
My approach to business is all about creating engagement on the journey. If your employees are just working toward some goal in the distant future, every day between now and then will be a slog and they may not care about the seemingly little things that have a big impact on the customer experience. I stay focused on making my employees engaged on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s by responding to an email quickly, sending a gift or flowers, publicly acknowledging someone who has done a great job or following up with someone about a concern they had.
Unfortunately, many companies see happiness at work as an intangible “nice to have”, rather than an important organisational priority. While you can’t force employees to be happy – or control every factor that contributes to happiness – it’s still possible to create the conditions that will help to promote happiness and positivity at work.
Build company culture
Some people will say that business is solely about money. It’s not, it’s about people. Before you can even think about your company’s growth, you need to ensure that you have a solid team of passionate, intelligent and forward-thinking people – a team that are loyal and with you for the ride. A team whose skills complement each other. I look for lifelong learners and typically ask people what book they’ve read most recently. This can give a good indication as to whether they are self-motivated, proactive people.
Four in ten small companies don’t make it to five years old. It’s undeniably tough running a business and reducing risk is essential if it’s going to be a success. Owners of growing businesses need to look at insurance products and providers who can help protect the business with suitable policies. If there is one type of insurance that you absolutely need, it is general liability insurance. General liability can help protect you from lawsuits surrounding employee conduct, product failure, and any other issues.
If lack of cash flow is an issue, you can look to limit risk by looking into low-risk funding options such as grants or crowdfunding.
One trait that successful businesses often have in common, is the ability to switch directions quickly in response to changes in the market. It’s called ‘failing fast’ on the weaker ideas, but scaling quickly on the stronger ones. Being adaptable to development and looking at your current model and changing it, should it need to adapt, will help you grow more quickly.
Love your work
Success doesn’t always mean money, fame, and power. It means being happy and enjoying the job that you do. If you don’t feel passionate about the industry you’re in and what you’re trying to achieve, you’re in the wrong line of work and you will struggle to make it a success. As the great Steve Jobs once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.
STOP THE CONFUSION: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE INSURED AGAINST COVID-19
By Alex Balcombe, Partner at Harris Balcombe
The last few weeks has seen businesses in hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure and more forced to close their doors following the Government’s orders that they should close to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While this is expected to flatten the curve and reduce the number of coronavirus cases, it will of course have an impact on businesses and employees alike. For small businesses especially, there are many concerns about how they can claim on their insurance to weigh the fall of this impact.
In response to calls to help struggling businesses, the Government has informed the public that companies who are facing turmoil will be able to claim on their business interruption insurance during this difficult time. For most, this is wrong.
The insurance industry has also been extremely vocal that there is no cover for any coronavirus-hit businesses during this tough financial period. This isn’t strictly true either.
How can businesses see through the mixed messaging and best secure their future and their livelihoods and reduce money worries? It’s an extremely stressful time for many companies, and confusion over whether or not they can be covered can only cause more unnecessary stress.
Since it’s a new disease, most businesses will not be covered for business interruption due to COVID-19. In fact, the vast majority of policies do not cover anything related to COVID-19.
That said – don’t rule out the idea that you may be covered. There is a chance that you will be covered against COVID-19, but not know it. This is a very small chance, but your current cover may already protect your business against the consequences of coronavirus, and the nationwide response to it – though those with this cover are unlikely to realise it.
How Could I Be Covered?
Not everyone has business interruption insurance, as it’s not a legal requirement. It is entirely up to the policy holder to weigh up the benefits of having it, and their ability to trade should a disaster happen.
To be considered for cover for COVID-19, there are two types of policy extensions to your business interruption cover that can potentially cover you for this situation:
Infectious Disease Extension
Many policies expressly state which diseases fall within the realm of being an infectious or notifiable disease. If this is the case, your policy will not provide cover. As it is a new disease, these policies will not have included COVID-19.
Other infectious disease extension policies will define the disease with reference to the actions of the government. Since the UK Government has named COVID-19 as a notifiable disease throughout the UK, it is possible that your business may fall into this definition, thus meaning you may be able to make a claim.
However, again, it’s not always that simple. Many policies require the disease to have been on your premises, while others specify a radius from your premises in order to qualify.
Denial of Access Extension (non-damage)
Denial of Access Extension (non-damage) policies may cover you if you’re prevented from accessing your property. This could be due to an event, or by the actions of a competent authority, which could cause your business interruption cover to engage.
If covered by this clause, there are often very subtle differences in wording in your policy. This could depend on the insurer or policy. You may well be covered, but it will depend on your particular circumstances, and the specific policy wording.
It’s clear that the Government needs to do more in ensuring there is clear messaging for businesses, and to help the insurance market look after policy holders. This is an unprecedented situation, and with many people looking to claim on their insurance, we’re already seeing major delays which could have a domino impact.
People throughout the world are understandably facing all kinds of worries because of the current pandemic. Our ways of living have changed, and many business owners will not have experienced a situation like this in their life times. If you own a business and are unsure about whether you can claim for business interruption, or are confused about ambiguous wording, get in touch with a loss assessor.
These claims are not simple, but loss assessors will be experts in business interruption insurance, and will specialise in large and complex claims. They will be able to help and guide you along the way, check your wording and work on your behalf to make sure you get everything you are entitled to.
HARNESSING ANALYTICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD
By Anna Lykourina, EMEA Fraud Analytics Expert at SAS
In the past, the fight against fraud has been a bit hit-and-miss. It has relied on auditors to identify patterns of behaviour that just didn’t quite fit. They often only detected problems months after the event. And then organisations had to claw back stolen funds through legal processes.
In a world where transactions happen in under a second, however, this is no longer acceptable. We need to be able to detect fraud immediately, if not before it happens. Customers want safe and protected data that is not vulnerable to identity theft through company systems. But they still want to be able to pay online and in seconds. The stakes are high, but fortunately new tools and techniques in fraud analytics are enabling companies to stay ahead of fraud.
Trusting machines to do the work
Machines are much better than humans at processing large data sets. They are able to examine large numbers of transactions and recognise thousands of fraud patterns instead of the few captured by creating rules. On the other hand, fraudsters have become adept at finding loopholes. Whatever rules you set, it is likely that they will be able to get ahead of them. But what if your system was able to think for itself, at least to a certain extent?
New approaches to fraud prevention combine rules-based systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence-based fraud detection systems. These hybrid systems are able to detect and recognise thousands of fraud patterns and learn from the data. Automated analytical-based fraud detection systems can reveal novel fraud patterns and identify organised crime more consistently, efficiently and quickly. This makes them a good investment for businesses across a wide range of sectors, including public sector, insurance, banking, and even healthcare or telecommunications.
How, though, can you harness analytics as a tool in your fight against fraud?
Identifying needs and solutions
The first step is to identify which options you need. Probably the best way to do this is through a series of company-wide workshops with the fraud analytics experts to determine what analytics you need, which data to include and techniques to use, and what results to report. They can also identify the ideal combination of rules-based and AI/ML approaches to detect fraud as early as possible.
Companies looking towards advanced analytics for fraud detection will need to make a number of decisions. They will need to optimise existing scenario threshold tuning, explore big data, develop and interpret machine learning models for fraud, discover relevant information in text data, and prioritise and auto-route alerts. There may be industry-specific decisions to make, too, such as automating damage analysis through image recognition in the insurance sector. By automating these areas, companies can both significantly reduce human effort – reducing costs – and improve their fraud detection and prevention.
Benefits of an analytical approach to fraud detection and prevention
Companies that are already using an analytical approach for fraud prevention have reported several important benefits. First, the quality of referrals for further investigation is better. Investigators also have a much clearer idea of why the referral has been made, which improves the efficiency of investigation. Analytics also improves investigation efficiency by reducing the number of both false positives (that is, alerts that turn out not to be fraud) and false negatives (failure to spot actual frauds). This improves customer experience and reduces risk to the company.
Analytics makes it possible to uncover complex or organised fraud that rules-based systems would miss. Companies can group together customers and accounts with similar behaviors, and then set risk-based thresholds appropriate for each scenario.
There are several sector-specific benefits too. For example, insurance firms can identify fraudulent claims faster to prevent improper payments from going out. Claims investigation is likely to be more consistent because claims are scored through technology, algorithms and analytics, rather than by people. Finally, it becomes possible to shorten the claims process through automated damage analysis. It is no wonder that organizations across a wide range of sectors are placing analytics at the heart of their anti-fraud strategy.
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