Sweat eq­uity

Pro cy­clist launches new startup aimed at of­fer­ing in­surance pack­ages to ath­letes and other ad­ven­tur­ers.

Ottawa Business Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM FEIBEL adam@obj.ca

“I was hear­ing more and more peo­ple say­ing, ‘I’ve seen ac­ci­dents hap­pen, I’ve had my bike stolen, I was trav­el­ling to a race but my kid got sick so I had to can­cel and lost $2,000’ … It be­came this repet­i­tive story.”

Ath­lete and en­tre­pre­neur An­gella Go­ran is tak­ing a leap into the in­surance in­dus­try with a line of prod­ucts de­signed specif­i­cally with ac­tive life­styles in mind.

Ms. Go­ran, a pro­fes­sional cy­clist who also founded SokJok – a re­tail-based so­cial en­ter­prise that sells ath­letic socks while do­nat­ing to youth ini­tia­tives – was bik­ing coast-to-coast across Canada a few years ago and heard from many other fel­low ath­letes and ad­ven­tur­ers about the prob­lems they had en­coun­tered while par­tic­i­pat­ing in or com­pet­ing in ath­letic ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I was hear­ing more and more peo­ple say­ing, ‘I’ve seen ac­ci­dents hap­pen, I’ve had my bike stolen, I was trav­el­ling to a race but my kid got sick so I had to can­cel and lost $2,000’ … It be­came this repet­i­tive story,” she says.

She came up with an idea: A com­pre­hen­sive in­surance plan sim­i­lar to a Cana­dian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber­ship, but spe­cially tai­lored for peo­ple who live ath­letic life­styles and whose needs aren’t all met by other in­surance plans.

At a tech con­fer­ence in Toronto this month, Ms. Go­ran an­nounced the soft launch of her new firm, Global Sports In­surance. The startup, which plans to of­fi­cially launch in mid-Novem­ber, will sell a prod­uct line called Ath­let­ica Pro­tect that cov­ers items such as gear and equip­ment, ac­ci­den­tal death and dis­abil­ity, and travel for ath­letic events (in­clud­ing rental cars, key loss and ticket re­funds).

The plans will be avail­able to cus­tomers in Canada and the United States, who will be cov­ered any­where in the world. They’re of­fered in a three-tier cov­er­age sys­tem, rang­ing from $300 to $1,200 a year. In Fe­bru­ary, the firm also plans to add an on-de­mand in­surance line, which will let some­one buy a short-term pol­icy at a low rate to cover them for a spe­cific event or to bor­row equip­ment, for ex­am­ple. Ath­let­ica Pro­tect will also dou­ble as a loy­alty pro­gram with spe­cial of­fers and ben­e­fits.

“You’re get­ting the mem­ber­ship perks of a pro­gram that’s fo­cused on ath­let­ics and sports, and then an ag­gre­gate of some of the best poli­cies and prod­ucts that we have in the in­surance realm that peo­ple who do sports would have to tap into,” Ms. Go­ran ex­plains.

“If some­body chooses to live an ac­tive life­style, they’re choos­ing to do that 24/7.”

Boot­strapped so far, Global Sports In­surance is mean­while reach­ing out to an­gel net­works in search of $500,000 in fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal. More im­por­tantly, Ms. Go­ran says she’s look­ing for in­vestors who will be help­ful part­ners in ex­pand­ing the firm’s net­work and mar­ket reach.

The com­pany projects rev­enues of $1.4 mil­lion in the first year, based on a con­ser­va­tively an­tic­i­pated 1,000 sub­scrip­tions.

– AN­GELLA GO­RAN, PRO CY­CLIST AND FOUNDER OF GLOBAL SPORTS IN­SURANCE

“We al­ready know the fore­cast of the po­ten­tial be­hind this prod­uct line,” says Ms. Go­ran. “We will ac­tu­ally profit within our first year.”

The firm has re­ceived sup­port from Marc Roy of Sport­stats, an Ot­tawabased ath­letic statis­tics web­site with an es­ti­mated 700,000 mem­bers.

Ms. Go­ran says that part­ner­ship will help the com­pany with mar­ket­ing and vis­i­bil­ity. With ac­cess to Sport­stats’ par­tic­i­pant data for ma­jor events such as marathons, triathlons and ob­sta­cle races, she was bet­ter able to give in­surance un­der­writ­ers an en­cour­ag­ing sense of the scope of the com­pany’s tar­get mar­ket.

It’s within that niche mar­ket that Ms. Go­ran sees plenty of po­ten­tial for peerto-peer net­work ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Cus­tomers who like the plan and have re­ceived good ser­vice are likely to rec­om­mend it to their friends and fel­low ath­letes who could ben­e­fit from it, she says.

Es­tab­lish­ing and ex­pand­ing that net­work is cru­cial – for hers or ba­si­cally any startup.

“My back­ground was an elite ath­lete, so it’s easy for me to reach out to the larger names in my sport for their sup­port,” Ms. Go­ran says. “You could be in the mid­dle of a for­est scream­ing, but if no­body’s out there to hear you it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter.”

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

An­gella Go­ran.

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