Thinksurance connects brokers and insurance companies on their platform

This is the first video of our new podcast Tech Startups Germany. All the recordings on this channel are made possible by Invest in Hessen (learn more here https://www.invest-in-hessen.com/home). You can find this specific channel here as an audio and video stand-alone podcast or via all channels of Startuprad.io.

The Interview

In this interview, Joe from Startuprad.io is talking to Florian Brokamp (https://www.linkedin.com/in/florian-brokamp-5a329876/), CEO of Thinksurance (https://thinksurance.de/en/start/), a Frankfurt-based insurtech startup. The fintech just raised 13 mn venture capital (https://www.policendirekt.com/en/thinksurance-raises-e13m-in-series-b-funding/) so Startuprad.io took the opportunity and stop by on short notice to ask one of the founders what they will do with all the money

Tech Startups Germany – By Startuprad.io

This is the first video of our new podcast Tech Startups Germany. All the recordings on this channel are made possible by Invest in Hessen (learn more here https://www.invest-in-hessen.com/home).

You can find this specific channel here as audio and video stand-alone podcast or via all channels of Startuprad.io.

Frankfurt as a location is good from an international recruiting standpoint, since Frankfurt has a really really great reputation.

VC Funding

In this interview, Joe from Startuprad.io is talking to Florian Brokamp (https://www.linkedin.com/in/florian-brokamp-5a329876/), CEO of Thinksurance (https://thinksurance.de/en/start/), a Frankfurt-based insurtech startup. The fintech just raised 13 mn venture capital (https://www.policendirekt.com/en/thinksurance-raises-e13m-in-series-b-funding/) so Startuprad.io took the opportunity and stop by on short notice to ask one of the founders what they will do with all the money.

Startup is not about the events, it is not about “raising big”… its more important to believe in yourself, be happy and create your vision.

Thinksurance

First some information on the startup: Thinksurance is the leading commercial insurance distribution platform in Germany. Its technology connects insurers, distributors from all sales channels and business customers on its intelligent analytics and distribution platform. The company was founded in Frankfurt, Germany, first entered the market in 2016 under the brand “Gewerbeversicherung24” and was rebranded in 2019. By now, the insurtech has almost 50 employees and is led by its two founders Florian Brokamp and Christopher Leifeld as well as Vasil Vasilev and Timm Weitzel.

The insurtech is looking to increase headcount considerably and expand to other countries like France, Belgium and the Netherlands. As second priority they are looking to the USA and Asia.

Tune in the interview to learn more.

We would hope that in Germany in general and Frankfurt in specific there would be more support from the Government …

Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to STARTUPRAD.IO, your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news, interviews and live events.

Joern: Hello, and welcome everybody. This is Joe from Startuprad.io your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany. Right now, I’m here in Frankfurt, close to Westhafen, which is, as you can tell a former harbor which was converted into residential and office buildings, and I’m here for the simple reason, that their Insurtech located here. Thinksurance Welcome.

Florian: Thank you.

Joern: Can you introduce yourself to our viewers?

Florian: Yeah, of course. So my name is Florian Brokamp, I’m one of the co-founders of Thinksurance and CEO of the company, and yeah, happy to say a little bit more about what we’re doing here in Frankfurt.

 

Joern: When we talk before the interview, you told me that you’re basically not really an insurance company, you’re not really a broker, but you’re actually in the middle of that. Before we get into the details, can you tell us a little bit about your life, how you actually got there? Because I would assume you don’t get out of university and say, “Oh, that’s what I want to do.”

 

Florian: No, actually it was probably like everyone that you asked about insurance, it’s really more about just somewhat got stuck into it and that was the case. I studied both law and economics here in Germany and then went to McKinsey Management Consulting. And after a couple of years at McKinsey doing a lot of digital stuff, I thought, “Okay, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to find something and let’s go.”

Then I bumped into a lot of people, a lot of different entrepreneurs that have much more experience about that, and they all said, “Okay, look at this, look at that, and so on.” And then I met some guys that were very successful in insurance, sensitive insurance; that’s very interesting. I was like, “insurance, I don’t really think that’s something for me, and second, I looked at it, that’s really something that you should have a closer look.”

And I was like, “Okay, maybe I do,” and, yeah.

At that time, it was really kicking off in that industry and was really starting to get going and I was really looking at it and said, “Okay, sounds interesting.”

I started it and I called two friends of mine that I have worked together at McKinsey, and we’re like, “Okay, let’s give it a try,” and so we started that. And then over time, it’s been over four years now, became quite successful and now we’re launching. We’re looking at the first, other countries that we’re expanding to after being quiet market-leading in Germany. And so they proved me wrong that insurance is much more interesting than I actually thought.

Joern: We are here because my interest in you got triggered for the simple reason you raised venture capital, I do remember 13 million EUROS.

Florian: Yep.

Joern: And actually, at this point, but I’m not an insurance guy, I couldn’t tell what you guys are actually doing. Can you explain it for like an insurance layman where you guys are actually doing?

Florian: Yeah, definitely, I can do that. Actually I need to do that quite often because most people that I talked, they would asked me, “What do you do?”

I typically start with, “Okay, we’re a tech company,” and then you get them interested. Rather, don’t tell too early that you’re doing something with insurance, that typically lowers the attention quite a bit so we’re a tech company. We’re a tech platform in between the classical insurance company and whatever distributor that is selling commercial insurances. So on this case, it might be a typical broker that you know, it might be an tied agent that only sells insurance from Allianz, Zurich, or x or whatever, and we’re in between those two parties and connect them and we are a technology enabler for both of them. Because insurance company is typically not a tech company, and typical broker or distributed even online brokers. Most of them don’t have that much money and time to invest into these API’s or to this interfaces that you would need to create with insurers’ interest to get all the product world and all the communication that you need between those two parties. And therefore we’re in between multiplying to both sides and it’s like a two sided marketplace, matching the supply and demand.

Joern: But you guys are doing much more than just WhatsApp, right?

Florian: Definitely, so it’s really… We starting in this process from the first consulting, from first making sure that  that you consult your client right, so from distributor perspective. Then we help them, what kind of products you need to offer him, liability insurance or legal insurance or whatever and then we tell them which insurance actually would cover that risk. Then we have the API with insurance, getting the quote from him, even if …

Joern: This is special for B2B insurance, because you have big risks, if you have quite specific risks. Not just Life insurance, to very simplified one person is just one life and it’s almost the same but it’s totally different. If you’re a car sales outlet that has a lot of cars out there, and when the garage burns up, it has to be insured, as opposed to like a really big industrial conglomerate that needs to insure like big industrial complexes.

Florian: Yeah. And so actually, when you think about commercial insurances of businesses, you have around, let’s say, 50 different product lines and product lines, that means liability. So someone trip/falls over a cable or so on, but can be even much, much bigger if the product that you sell, just hurt someone out there that’s using it, that would also be in this area, up to like, let’s say cyber or legal expense, whatever. So the 50 different products just for one, one potential business and then within one business, you have, we know around, let’s say 1500, 1800 different professions. So a profession can be the plumber next door, it can be the huge industrial conglomerates, it can be a barber next door, so it can be everything between. And a barber, that equals a barber, a barber can be one man shop or it can be like with different franchise stores and so on so even in that it’s quite complicated. So you can see, you can build up a huge matrix of complexity.

Joern: Just a question out of pure curiosity, does it make a difference for the insurance of a barbershop, if he or she does shaving or not?

Florian: Shaving is not  so relevant for the premium but it makes a difference if you do the needling, peeling stuff where you actually go into… the skin of someone that makes the difference,  but shaving is typically not part of the question.

Joern: Okay. And when you guys, then you have to structure this?

Florian: Hmm-mm.

Joern: Okay, and so an insurance broker and I have A on one side can find it, and what do you do for the other side like the insurance companies?

Florian: So in this area, this is part of this matchmaking so this brokenness has its risk and he wants to find out, “Okay, what do we actually, who can I asks for it and what does it cost?” And this is the first time when we’re really giving a certain special value for Matura because what happens typically, is that you started with an email or fax; yes, there’s still fax machines being used. So it’s really an offline process and then you need special underwriters or you have people there, specialist, for calculating or quoting a simple barber shop for 120 euro over $150, and so that’s something not efficient.

Joern: We should say like in insurance peak, it’s when you’re underwriting risk, you’re covering it as an insurance then, it is insured, right?

Florian: Yes, so underwriting is actually a risk assessment of the risk and then making sure that the premium is from a technical perspective, actually, pricing the risk, right because in the end…In insurance basically, it’s, you need a lot of different risks so they cover each other basically, because you have risk that don’t have any damages because one damage would be enough to basically take all the premiums off the other hundred premiums and therefore you need to make sure that it all ends up to total coverage and portfolio.

Joern: I see. What is for you the most interesting stuff you are insuring, I assume you’re not insuring a big industrial conglomerates that are destruction by alien forces or something?

Florian: Not, yet.

Joern: What is the most fancy or interesting stuff you guys are doing there? What would you seen there?

Florian: So basically we’re getting more and more complex from risks that our clients are bringing to us and I would say the most complex was around…It’s a conglomerate industrial, conglomerate, I think they make around 15 million revenues. So it’s quite large already, which has been digitized by our platform and this is probably the most interesting part. But of course, we see a lot of startups coming to us because obviously I’m part of the startup world and therefore I know some people that come to me and say, “Can you help?”

And I typically say we are not a broker but we can of course enable your broker or we can connect you with brokers and whatever.”

So basically we’re helping them on this and so we see a lot of different stuff, what was the latest, it was a cryptocurrency asset manager or something like that. And there was really something with insurance which are really, really old school. I said, “Okay, what is this cryptocurrency stuff? I actually have no clue.” That was probably one of the most interesting parts.

Joern: And on the other side you working with all insurance companies that are permitted to do business in Germany?

Florian: Yeah, basically we have all the relevant insurers on our side and what we’re doing with them is, it starts with this what it was that the simple potation of the risk, so just writing a price to it. But on the other side, it really goes much further into data analytics, into process outsourcing, into product development and portfolio management. So we’re really getting deeper and deeper into the value chain of an insurer because they realize that we’re creating win-win situations and that’s something that is basically one of the principles of our company. When we first founded it, we said, “Okay, we think the discussion is much nicer with someone that you bring value to.”

And then you say, “Okay, with each, let’s say risk that is under written or with each client that we have in our platform, you will earn all sides or more money than before,” and so it’s easier. The discussion and say, “Hey, out of this client, you had thousand dollars more.”

And then I said, “Okay, so take half of it,” and then for both sides, it’s a good deal. And that’s something that we are creating also for insurance, when we helping them with data analytics, with all these different areas, where they didn’t have anything before which just say, “Hey, this is just awesome! And just helps us in all these different areas.”

Joern: Getting a little bit more into your company, because you raised venture capital?

Florian: Yep.

Joern: What was your experience with raising venture capital? Was it tiresome? Was it, which would actually surprise me, easy? And what you’re going to do with the money?

Florian: So actually it was really, was a hard thing to do because actually, when you talk to investors…

Joern: Oh, what a surprise!

Florian: Hey, what a surprise! But I think it was even harder when you come to the industry, when no one actually really has a clue about it. So in the insurance industry from digitization and the startup perspective, it is very, very young. So when we’re talking to investors, one of the first things, in the beginning, they said, “Yeah, we are good with insurances because we’re going to FinTech.”

And in the beginning, Insurtech was seen as Part of FinTech and it still took some time before people actually made it quite a difference between it and many different sectors. So it just started that we have investors raising funds only for Intertek and that it also shows how little experience they all had with  Insurtech. So when you look at, when you talk to investors and to see the first investments that they made, most of them actually already dive because everyone thought Insurtech is probably like every other industry. So it just put money into Google and it’s like e-commerce and that it sold and yeah, done, you grow big, and all of them failed or pivoted and so on.

Joern: It’s not linear scaling.

Florian: Yeah, that’s right. So it really takes some time before this industry actually gets disrupted or actually before it gets digitized in. One of the things that people need

to learn is, it’s just a very, very different market, very, very different industry and therefore the investors set some really hard time to understand what we are doing. And so, in the beginning, was really tough to explain to them why we think it is not like all the other industries because the first reaction from all of them was, ” Yea, yea!” and then you need to go this, do this and do this and that. It’s like in other industries as well so I always said, “No, no, it’s not right, we need to do it differently. We need to, for example, go via brokers.”

They said, “No, in the digital world, no one needs a broker anymore, they only need an intermediary.”

And we said, “Yeah, you still need it, insurance is not sexy. It’s not a pull product. It’s a push product. So you need someone that pushes it out there and sells it to someone and therefore you always will need them.”

“No, no, no.”

“Okay.”

Then two years later, people understood, “Oh, actually, he was right.” And so…

 Joern: Just took two years, okay.

 Florian: It just took two years of discussion. So in the first discussion with investors, they all felt very, very intelligent and strong and made us feel stupid. We luckily, we had some investors that believed in us all the time and then now after some more time, and after, really the market picking up and the market learning, also the investors learning this round was really easy. So in the end, I was talking mainly to 10 investors that I knew from before and then I had three offers in the end and even a couple more that said, “Okay, what can we do?” And we just push them back. And so it was really really one of these experiences that you like from fundraising, but you don’t hear very often. I’m actually quite happy that it did go that way.

 Joern: What is your best recommendation for a startup out there, who’s never talked to investors? When they start fundraising, what should they do? And before you asked, no, we don’t do easy questions here.

 Florian: Yeah, I think it’s… One thing that always helps is, to talk to people early enough and without fundraising, because when you talk to them in the beginning. It’s like when you go out on a date, or when you go out in the club, and when someone has a feeling you directly go for it, and you’re really aggressive and you have just one clear goal of taking her home, then most people get defensive, but refer on the same day. If you just talk to them say, ” Hey, we are just starting startup and we just had our first business aim and own money,” or whatever and so on and everything is going well and then it’s really less aggressive.

If you go to them directly and say, “Okay, I want to pitch now because I want the money,” then it always feels a little bit needy and too aggressive. When we start a relationship with them, when you start to getting them interested, getting them to learn more about you and about your business and your idea, then you also find out who would be a good fit, and they learn who’s a good fit. And they can give good recommendation, and they start to trust you. Because the reason why we are not liquidated yet, but we’re now on the best position that we ever had, is because we had some people that trusted in us. It was not the typical followership of VCS that talk to each other and say, “Yeah, that’s, not a good idea.” It’s going to take some time and then they realized it was a good idea but they didn’t realize it yet, or before and then you need someone who trusts you and who backs you and that’s probably the best part about it.

 Joern: And what you guys going to do with the money, except…

 Florian: Spend it.

 Joern:… for buying a PlayStation or something?

 Florian: So first we have a nice closing party and then half of it is gone, probably not. But what we’re going to do is actually invest into people, because it’s the main resource actually that we have. And so we’re, we’re tripling the size of our team, mainly in Germany, but also starting with other countries.

 Joern: For example?

 Florian: For example, France, Belgium, Netherlands, would be on our first priority list, but we’re also looking at the US, at Asia. These three, let’s say, possibilities are out there for us, and it’s just a matter of sequence for us.

 Joern: I see and maybe one of my last questions. You guys are here located in Frankfurt?

 Florian: Yeah.

 Joern: Which is pretty nice, there is a lot of business around here. Did you feel ever an advantage or disadvantage to be located here in Frankfurt and what would you expect like the government, the regulators due to enable more startups in the FinTech insurance space like you guys?

 Florian: So we actually like it here in Frankfurt and it’s also a two sided. On the one hand side, Frankfurt is really cool because the city is really, there’s a lot of traffic just in the city are really close to all the other cities because Germany is quite decentral. So that means you have in Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich Stuttgart, wherever, you have the different customers that you want to meet. It’s not like in UK where you have London and that you have basically, let’s say the majority of the businesses and therefore this really helps. And also what’s helping is that we’re not to, we didn’t look to start a P, and what that means is, when we are talking to insurance, they always thought, because they’re so traditional they always liked that we in Frankfurt because it didn’t sound like, “Awe! this is Berlin hipster startup stuff what you do, but we always also framed ourselves as the young company, a really young, fresh company that sounds different from the to them then, “Okay, we’re startup and we’re really fragile…”

 Joern: Going to throw you out of your job.

 Florian: Exactly.

 Joern: Disruption, yeah.

 Florian: And so on. So this really happened in Frankfurt, sounds much better on this. Also when it comes to recruiting, because from an international perspective, Frankfurt has a really, really great reputation and therefore a lot of people said, “Okay, it’s cool to come to Frankfurt, it’s better than Berlin.”

And in Berlin, when I talked to other founders, they say, “Okay, it’s in the startup hub.” Especially all the techies or the good guys that want to be in startup space, they got lots of offers, and they experience that everyone that I know experience that, “Oh, yeah, and that this one time that my developer just didn’t come anymore, he just took another offer because there’s so many offers out there.” And so it’s really a lot of fluctuation and so on.

When you asked about the government, and what is not the good thing about Frankfurt, it is not a typical startup hub. And so you don’t have this large community, also investors community here, you have a lot of business community which helps, but investor community is not so big and they’re different. Let’s say initiatives to change that and also the government is trying to change a little bit but bureaucracy in general, in Germany, in general is really hard for startups. So this is probably something where we think it could be a little bit nicer to be in Berlin or even in some other startup hubs where they are pushing it. I think in France, there’s actually a lot going on to support startups. We would hope that in Germany, in general and Frankfurt is specific, it would be a little bit more of, let’s say, support from the government just to get this going.

Joern: Like a medial outreach support, financial support, help with recruiting relocating employees or  all of it?

Florian: Yeah, all of it. [08:45 inaudible] But I think mostly, it’s something of making that, making it easier for us to attract the people here and get the money. Because obviously for the government it’s good for us now or for them now that we have that much money, because it means we’re hiring people. That means we’re also performing quite well. That means we’re creating Texas, which is also again nice and making it more attractive, more innovative and so on, and therefore could support be would be highly appreciated.

Joern: Great. Anything important we may have forgotten?

Florian: Yeah, I think, one thing that I want to mention to the founders out there because it is easily said but you cannot hear it often enough, is stay focused. Stay out of all the events that you can get, because startup is not about the startup hipster life. It’s about creating business and it’s not about hiring, firing. It’s not about just disrupting, just because of disrupting. It’s not for making it the best for investors that’s making a good business is making yourself happy. And if you’re only after the getting fast, quick returns, then it’s probably not the best way for you to do it. Throughout it’s about building something, creating something for you, for your employees and also for your environment. And it’s not about the events. It’s not about just raising big and that’s important. It’s more important you believe in yourself, you’re happy and you create a vision.

Joern: Just raising big and have a big variation we just had a case of we work that it don’t always pay off. Thank you very much, it was a pleasure having you as a guest.

Florian: Thank you.

Joern: Everybody who would like to learn more, go down here in the show notes, there’s a link to our website. There is a blog post where you will find the link of your LinkedIn profile. Everything we talked about, Wikipedia links and as well as the company website.

Florian: Sounds good, thanks a lot. It was fun.

Joern: My pleasure.

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