Founder of King Price, Gideon Gal­loway, ex­plains how he took on the mo­nop­o­lists of the South African in­sur­ance space to of­fer a ve­hi­cle in­sur­ance prod­uct with de­creas­ing pre­mi­ums.

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­i­to­rial@fin­ By Natalie Greve

agrow­ing dis­dain for the “old-boy” struc­ture of the do­mes­tic in­sur­ance in­dus­try prompted in­sur­ance vet­eran and en­tre­pre­neur Gideon Gal­loway to ditch the cor­po­rate rat race in June 2012 and es­tab­lish dis­rup­tive in­surer King Price. Start­ing with 23 em­ploy­ees, King Price hit the mar­ket with a novel ve­hi­cle in­sur­ance prod­uct that saw pre­mi­ums de­creas­ing ev­ery year – a world first, says Gal­loway. To­day, over 102 000 clients have bought into the idea. The now 700 em­ploy­ee­strong com­pany’s port­fo­lio has since in­cluded cover for build­ings, home con­tents and busi­nesses, among others – and even an op­tion to in­sure Ap­ple watches and golf clubs for R1 per month.

What sparked the idea of start­ing an in­sur­ance com­pany?

I spot­ted an op­por­tu­nity to change the in­sur­ance in­dus­try, be­cause, in my opin­ion, it’s dom­i­nated by giants that don’t re­alise their clients are be­com­ing more dis­cern­ing. For ex­am­ple, cars de­pre­ci­ate ev­ery month, so why aren’t all in­sur­ers de­creas­ing car in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums monthly?

I be­came frus­trated with the lack of in­no­va­tion in the in­dus­try and the stuck-up man­ner in which tra­di­tional in­sur­ers didn’t even want to com­mu­ni­cate with their clients. It seemed like there was an op­por­tu­nity to do bet­ter in the in­dus­try; an op­por­tu­nity to take the

‘eina’ out of in­sur­ance. The busi­ness model looked mas­sively scal­able, es­pe­cially if done cor­rectly, so we took the chance.

How did you get start-up fund­ing?

I used the in­vest­ment in­come I re­ceived from the var­i­ous com­pa­nies I had built over the years, and a small group of friends and fam­ily mem­bers (luck­ily) be­lieved in my vi­sion and sup­ported me with R50m.This got us through the first three years of build­ing the sys­tem and find­ing in­vestors with big­ger pock­ets to get us to the launch date.

What are the big­gest dif­fi­cul­ties you’ve had to over­come?

The in­dus­try is in­cred­i­bly cut-throat with heavy com­pe­ti­tion from big­ger com­pa­nies. We re­alised early on that we needed to carve a niche mar­ket ap­proach for our­selves based on what con­sumers re­ally want, which is more cash in their pock­ets. Our first step was pre­mi­ums that de­crease ev­ery month.

The other chal­lenge as­so­ci­ated with be­ing the new kid on the block is bud­get. We don’t have a lot of cash to spend on fancy com­mer­cials but we do have an amaz­ing, crazy, pas­sion­ate com­pany cul­ture and a game-chang­ing ap­proach to in­sur­ance. We make ev­ery cent count when it comes to cut­ting through the clut­ter and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the pub­lic. “Lean and mean” is one of our seven fam­ily val­ues. We ap­ply the prin­ci­ple to ev­ery as­pect of our busi­ness.

What was un­ex­pected?

So many things… watch­ing our brand evolve, grow and find its way into hearts, homes, busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties through­out South Africa and Namibia. Ev­ery day, witnessing the team­work that pow­ers the com­pany. And lately, how much we’ve come to rely on data. An­a­lyt­ics shapes the busi­ness and en­ables it to craft prod­ucts for spe­cific au­di­ences and risks. Our cover is light years away from the one-siz­e­fits-all prod­uct that many in­sur­ers still of­fer.

Big­gest les­son learnt?

No risk means no re­ward. I had to in­vest ev­ery cent and I lost a lot in the process. But that’s how you learn.

How tough is com­pe­ti­tion in your sec­tor, and what dif­fer­en­ti­ates your ser­vice from others?

Com­pe­ti­tion is very tough. But we’ve made it through be­cause of our world-first pric­ing strat­egy, real-time in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems and data an­a­lyt­ics, and our unique cul­ture-based busi­ness model. Our ad­ver­tis­ing, our prod­ucts, and how we treat our clients, are also com­pletely dif­fer­ent from our com­peti­tors.

What is the best busi­ness ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived?

Noth­ing turns out quite like the orig­i­nal plan and spread­sheet, but don’t sweat it! Life hap­pens, so be flex­i­ble and adapt. With the right team, things can al­ways be fixed. Prob­lems give rise not only to solutions, but also to im­prove­ments and new op­por­tu­ni­ties. Em­brace these hur­dles, learn from them… But don’t make the same mis­take twice.

What non-work habits help you with your work/life bal­ance?

I’m a keen adventurer! I’ve sum­mited Mount Kilimanjaro and I en­joy ad­ven­ture sports, like paraglid­ing. I love run­ning and have fin­ished a few marathons and cy­cling events, as well as Iron­man. Trav­el­ling with my fam­ily is the best – it’s when I truly re­lax.

Our first step was pre­mi­ums that de­crease ev­ery month.

What is your three-year goal for King Price?

Last year we ex­panded into Namibia, and we also launched busi­ness in­sur­ance. We have a few new prod­uct lines launch­ing in the com­ing months. And we’ll be look­ing at other con­ti­nents very soon! We’ll also main­tain a fo­cus on an­a­lyt­ics – we har­ness data and tech­nol­ogy ev­ery day to fur­ther re­fine our rat­ings en­gine and de­liver in­sur­ance that’s fair and log­i­cal: the way we think it should be done. ■

Gideon Gal­loway Founder of King Price

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