I had the pleasure of hosting the Tech Showcase at Insurtech Insights Europe. The companies pitching their innovations were nothing short of inspiring. This year’s winner, Seyna, an all-in-one platform for insurance brokers, proved once again, that there continues to be momentum around digital transformation in our industry
Our team had a chance to interview Seyna’s CEO to get his story and insights on how his company is approaching innovation. I hope you find Stephen’s comments and views as insightful as I did.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
Hello! My name is Stephen, and I am CEO at Seyna. I am Franco-Irish and have been working with technology for the past 15 years. It all started when I was at university and understood that I could leverage the internet to get pizzas delivered faster. Quite an epiphany - which I eventually turned into my first business called Appetise - a takeout ordering website in the UK.
This served me as a steppingstone to then launch two other tech businesses: La Belle Assiette (private chef service operating in 5 countries) and GoCater (a B2B catering platform and software). After GoCater was acquired in 2018 by a Boston-based unicorn called ezCater, I ran ezCater’s international business. In 2020, I was looking to use my experience as a technology company operator, but this time on a brand-new industry. That is when I joined Seyna as CEO and started applying technology to the insurance space!
Tell us about Seyna, what is the problem that catapulted the start of the company?
Being an insurance broker has become incredibly difficult. On the one hand, they need to build competitive protections for their customers, quickly. And they face heavy regulation in doing so.
On the other hand, they have recently also taken on the burden of building their own tech to meet customers’ UX expectations and cope with incumbent players’ tech legacy. To sum up, protecting their customers has become complex and expensive.
This is why we built Seyna. We provide a SaaS solution with an embedded risk-carrying capacity to give brokers all the tools they need to create, distribute, and run their insurance business.
The P&C industry has traditionally led the way for insurtech activity. What are your views on the life and health insurtech industry?
Insurance is one of the most intricate industries there is. But its complexity isn’t an excuse for providing degraded customer experiences. The insurance industry must step up its level of customer experience, with new benchmarks defined by on-demand and highly digital services that we use daily (online shopping, subscription services, transport, groceries delivery, etc.).
Reaching that level of service is already a challenge for the P&C sector, which is progressing well but has a long way to go. Now imagine the implications for the Life and Health industry. Vast and highly fragmented, that segment must deal with yet another layer of complexity stemming from all of the compliance and data protection measures imposed upon them.
At Seyna, we think that change is possible. It is a big challenge, which we decided to take on in 2022 by allowing brokers to use Seyna for their Health insurance businesses. Our insight is that both insurance products and client experiences must be upgraded, relying 100% on technology to provide cost-efficiency.
Seyna has recently hit some major milestones including raising €33 million, being named Fintech 100, 2022 Insurtech Insights Tech Showcase Winner. To what do you attribute this success?
Firstly, I believe that our business model has been validated by the market. We can provide state-of-the-art insurance technology and competitive insurance products, together or separately, quicker than anyone else in the space. Our solutions radically improve a broker’s time to market and performance.
This leads me to my second point which is that Seyna is not here to disrupt. We are here to enable. We’re letting brokers focus on what they’re great at, protection. By working with existing players, instead of against, you move much faster.
Lastly, and this is an obvious one, but I believe it’s true: the quality of the team. The team is made up of PHD graduates, serial entrepreneurs, compliance gurus, former brokers, members of the ACPR regulatory body, etc. They are all seasoned professionals in either tech scale-ups or insurance who set out to build the modern infrastructure for the Insurance industry.
What drives your passion to innovate within the insurance space?
Our motto is “Enable Insurance. Enable World Progress.”
I genuinely believe that insurance is a protecting force helping the world move forward. Allowing people to take the leap they wouldn’t have taken otherwise.
Insurance is everywhere. It brings stability to businesses, governments, and society. It’s a huge part of everyone’s expenses. Working on a tech project that will make insurance more accessible and protect us better as consumers, drives me.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your time at Seyna?
The biggest lesson is that despite operating in a regulated and complex industry, we must apply some execution principles that help technology companies be successful. It is harder to do than in other industries, so we must be smart and work hard to make it happen. I am going to turn to a couple of our values to explain.
The first one is “Build it. Track it. Tweak it.” Working in such a complex environment, it is virtually impossible to get it right the first time. At Seyna, we believe that success is a process. Everything we do is measured, analyzed, and improved. This applies to everything: insurance products, our technology, ourselves, ... everything!
And the second one would have to be “Be Bold and Act Fast.” I relate it to Seyna because being bold and fast is particularly hard in insurance. But I also believe that it is where the battle stands. Breakthrough will only come if we’re 100x quicker and more audacious than the rest. That is why we have a very strong ownership culture within the company. All Seynators are expected to go the extra mile and take Seyna outside its comfort zone. In record time.
In the past two years, Seyna has forged +86 partnerships protecting more than 500,000 people. What are 3 tips you can share about forging strong partnerships?
Pay, or bill, for the value created: A win-win relationship is when you have built a product your customers are happy to pay for. It’s one that you as a business don’t undersell and instead, charge for. I am happy to pay $10 USD for my Spotify membership every month. If our customers couldn’t say the same thing about our services, then we wouldn’t be doing it right. We’ve grown accustomed to handing things out for free. But I firmly believe that a sound partnership is an economically viable one.
Dare to focus: Seyna started off as an “insurance lab”. We positioned ourselves as a carrier that could build any insurance product, but we lacked focus. That’s why we pivoted and started focusing on 5 business lines for which we would build the best tech and products in the market. You cannot serve everyone, so you need to say no to customers that are outside your scope. Build on your strengths and spoil your partners. Then grow and expand. Dare to focus.
Trust the partner: A sound partnership is one where there is trust. Trust that your partner will honor their word and deliver on time. To get there, you need to have the right processes internally to limit mutual dependencies and bottlenecks. For instance, bring down the number of documents you produce to a minimum, set simple on-brand documents templates that all your employees can use autonomously, set a maximum delay on your team’s response time, etc. Small processes pave the way for trust.
What is next for Seyna? What are some opportunities you see worth exploring in the next 12-18 months?
The next key step for Seyna will be serving the Health market. It is a tremendous opportunity but also a great challenge. To do that we will be recruiting extensively on the tech front. We want world-class developers, product managers, and designers, including those who have not worked in the insurance field before, to create solutions with only the customer in mind (and not the industry complexities).
We have already opened our software to all companies around the globe, but we will soon also be thinking about expanding our risk-carrying services to new markets in Europe. The EU P&C market alone is worth €560bn. The potential is huge. We need to make the most of our head start.
What are the core values of Seyna’s company culture? What is your advice for companies trying to maintain a strong culture as many face challenges with the Great Resignation?
Be Bold and Act Fast: We are looking for people who dream big, take risks, make decisions, and deliver quickly.
Build it, Track it, Tweak it: Everything we do is measured, analyzed, and improved. Success is a process.
Be Insanely Helpful: It’s better to surprise than let down. Don’t over-promise. Aim to consistently exceed your customers’ expectations. Make your clients and colleague think “I can’t believe they went that far to help me. It’s insane”.
Grow Together: As Seyna grows, we expect team members and customers to benefit, professionally and personally, from that growth. That is key.
Regarding the Great Resignation, I wish we had the magic recipe, but so far, we have almost no churn at all after 3 years of operations, so I would maybe say “Hire positive people.” I am very proud of the constructive mindset the team has forged for itself. Of course, we have challenges, setbacks, and disagreements, but generally speaking, we are all 100% invested in our work.
And I’ll finish with a quote from Bill Bernach, “A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money.” I believe that applies to values. If you want your team to be bold, be ready to lose money in iterations. If you want them to grow, invest in their training. If you want them to be insanely helpful, reward them for customer satisfaction, etc.
Like Seyna, RGAX is here to enable. While Seyna enables brokers, our role is to enable insurance clients to innovate, and we see partnerships as a key to driving innovation success in Life and Health insurance. That’s why we work to bring key players, from inside the business as well as out, together to work on some of the industry’s toughest challenges. To learn more about the kind of projects we’re working on, visit us at RGAX.com.
Thank you Stephen for sharing your perspective with our readers, we are excited to continue to follow your journey.