Committed to changing the Insurtech game, Co-Founder of Naked Insurance, Alex Thomson, has a background in Insurance and Consultancy, and is passionate about changing the longstanding ‘Insurance Narrative’ in South Africa. Founded in 2016, the business concept was conceived as Alex, along with his two co-founders – Sumarie Greybe and Ernest North – saw a gap in the market for bringing customers instant and hassle-free cover for their home, car and other items, through an automated digital process. Naked Insurance was, also, the recipient of the Africa Tech Week 2020 Start-up Award.
In this week’s Business Unusual podcast, Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco Media engages in conversation with Alex Thomson to discuss ‘getting naked’ – the act of being genuine, real and transparent in business. Together, Ralf and Alex unpack themes relating to going beyond just a simple business idea, product market fit, building relationships and trust with team members and customers, and Alex’s true definition of success. Alex provides interesting perspectives on preparing yourself for reaching peaks and what lies beyond them, growing your community, and making a positive impact on people’s lives.
Key takeaways to listen out for in this podcast:
- It is always daunting to ‘start late’, or jump into a new field, but you shouldn’t let this stop you from making your vision a reality. There will be much self-doubt, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Remember that failure is a mark of success. As you climb the mountain towards making your business a success, there will be many peaks and valleys to overcome – embrace the challenge and learn from each milestone.
- It is great to have ‘an idea’. However, you need to practice humility and understand the needs of your target audience. Be careful of ‘wishful thinking’ and test your assumptions. Finding a product market fit first is essential to making your business a success.
- Do not take customer feedback lightly. When customers are able to affirm your idea, this is when the real breakthrough comes. Listen carefully when your customers speak up.
- We often perceive obstacles that are not there, which hinders our progress. Take steps to expose yourself to leaders in your industry. This will assist in building confidence. Getting quality input from external sources, and sharing your ideas, are important building blocks for the growth of your business.
- You need to be able to sell your idea to staff members and investors. They’ve got to believe that the journey you’re on is meaningful.
- With tech, you need to constantly upskill and educate yourself on the latest trends and tools. Reading, and getting other people’s perspectives, is a step in the right direction.
- These three aspects are key to business success and need to be prioritised: process, people and product.
- It is suggested that insurance be treated as ‘an investment’ rather than a ‘purchase’ to change the often ‘negative’ narrative that is portrayed about the industry. Customers need to feel that what they’re doing isn’t a chore, but rather a mutually beneficial choice.
- Try to remember that pedestrian growth is okay – it provides investors with some certainty. We must have more faith in the future of the economy in Africa, and more confidence in the process involved in building businesses.
Alex Thomson, is the Co-Founder of Naked Insurance, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Naked Insurance is a Web- and app-based insurance provider underwritten by Hollard, building a new generation of insurance. Prior to his role here, Alex held the position of Director (Partner), at Ernst & Young, and was Head of Africa Actuarial Services, and was also Joint Managing Director & Consulting Actuary for Quindiem Consulting (Pty) Ltd earlier on in his career. He attended University of Cape Town, obtaining a BBusSc Actuarial Science degree. Alex then went on to attend both the CFA Institute and the Institute of Actuaries.