Michael Klien, co-founder and CEO of SafeSide, explains how his Startup wants to revolutionize life insurance in Switzerland, how they handle regulatory hurdles and why SafeSide decided to participate in the F10 Incubation Program.
Michael, your Startup provides life insurance – not the typical business idea for a Startup. How did you come up with the idea for your service?
Michael Klien: While working in London, I was looking for pure life insurance coverage to protect my wife. We were expecting our first child and had a mortgage, thus some financial protection seemed like a reasonable idea. In Switzerland, the search for the ideal product turned out to be difficult: information online was sparse, and the offered product landscape resembled an impenetrable jungle. And we did not want to invite an insurance agent to our home. In the UK, it was much easier to obtain transparent information on the internet and different offers could be compared online. Higher transparency and easier access enticed us to buy pure life insurance in the UK – which in addition was half the price than what was on offer in Switzerland where incumbent life insurers mainly offer it bundled with high margin products.This clearly provoked the question as to why pure life insurance, a fantastic and easy-to-understand product, was not promoted in Switzerland.
And you are ready to change that?
Exactly! The Swiss life insurance market is ripe for disruption. We want to provide fully transparent and easy to understand life insurance in less than three minutes. Our vision is to individualize insurance premiums by continuously integrating health data into our insurance offering. By doing so, we give our customers the best life insurance at the best price while helping them to improve their health.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
The regulatory environment dictates that an insurance carrier requires considerable initial capital. This hurdle is too high for us. Therefore, we are looking for a primary insurance carrier to partner with in terms of offering a simple and straightforward product that can be bought fully online.Finding the optimal communication style and channel within the team has also been challenging as the co-founders are spread over three different countries.
How did you manage to stay motivated in the light of the challenges mentioned before and what have been the highlights of the months after founding your start-up?
The whole creative process of formulating our idea into a tangible story has been my personal highlight. We have substantiated our unique value proposition and formulated the vision. It has been wonderful and unique to experience the gradual development of an idea into a business. Important milestones for us were the pinning down of possible regulatory hurdles and the good in-depth discussion we have had with insurance carriers. Regarding the F10 Incubation Program, the Masterclass sessions on the lean Startup methodology have been very valuable and therefore a highlight to us.
Talking about Incubation: Why did you decide to participate in the F10 program?
We were convinced that a full-time incubator and accelerator will be the ideal kick-start for our venture and help us avoid many beginners’ mistakes which in turn would set us on the right path for focused and rapid growth. All co-founders believed in the prestige of the F10 programs, its network effects and the offered entrepreneurial and business acumen would allow us to establish the right contacts with potential partners such as risk carriers, reinsurers and first-round financings.
What do you consider the most important take-aways from the F10 Incubation Program?
It truly opened doors and provided invaluable access to corporates. We have been able to work with fantastic coaches with a hands-on approach and a wide range of experiences. In addition, there have been great lectures from outside experts providing vital advice for Startups. Learning about pitfalls and errors as well as the success ingredients for Startups during Masterclass sessions has definitely been helpful.