This week we interview Axel Sjøstedt, Co-Founder and CEO of Cloud Insurance, a SaaS solution which enables insurance providers to manage the entire insurance customer lifecycle. We discuss Cloud’s exciting growth over the last year, its participation in Insurtech Hub Munich’s FIN:SURE, and Axel’s personal highlights as CEO over the past five years.
Hi Axel, could you tell us a little about yourself, and the story behind Cloud Insurance’s founding?
I am Axel, co-founder and CEO at Cloud Insurance. My main three interests are computers, traveling, and hiking. Or any combination of the three! I have always had a beating heart for computers and technology, especially what technology can do to improve society. My first acquaintance with insurtech was utterly random. I did a freelance consulting assignment to digitize the claims journey for an insurance agency and soon realized that the technology potential in this industry is enormous. When my co-founder Håvard and I finished our studies, we decided to create our dream job – and Cloud Insurance was born for real.
Introduce us to your SaaS solution in your own words, and the opportunities it offers to the insurance industry.
Our SaaS solution is a platform for insurance providers to manage the entire insurance customer life cycle. With our platform, customers have launched fully digital customer journeys and enrolment processes, managed renewals, automated claims, and gained better business control. We believe we have created the future-ready core policy and claims platform that supports the demands of dynamic policies, embedded/white labeled insurances, AI-driven underwriting, and more exciting stuff.
Cloud Insurance recently celebrated its 5th birthday – what are some of your personal highlights from the past five years?
Scaling the organisation from 2 nerdy co-founders to 25 employees has been a fantastic journey. I am so impressed by the team. It is a cliché, but it is true: It really is all about the people. Every time a new client sells the first insurance policy is also a highlight – a validation that we help create real business value. On a personal note, I got two kids during this period and got to experience for real that we are serious when we say we are a family friendly business.
Cloud Insurance has seen some great growth, entering Finland at the start of the year and South Africa in June. Did Covid-19 affect your growth/expansion plans at all?
When 2020 started, we were funded and ready for an expansion to new markets. Looking retrospectively, I would say that the most significant impact Covid-19 had on our plan was a delay in opening a new office in the UK. Initially, we planned the launch for March 2020, but due to the lockdown, we had to postpone the launch to September 2020. And then it took almost a year for the world to actually open up. Happy to finally see the return of in-person events and the famous London Insurtech “pulse”.
Cloud Insurance has also seen great growth in revenue – last year you reported 138% YoY growth. Can you share some of your plans for the next 12-months? Any key targets or milestones to help continue this trend?
One of the main elements in our growth plan is the distribution strategy. Besides building our local presence in key markets, we believe that teaming up with local partners will help accelerate our growth. Our South Africa launch was piloting our partner program, and we are now ready to add new partners to the program.
What do you think the market will look like in 10 years? What are the coming opportunities and threats?
As a tech founder, I have witnessed an exponential increase in the pace of tech innovations over the past 10 years. And acceleration will continue, which makes it hard to predict. One of our missions is to make insurance understandable, fancy, and digitally available for everyone. The pandemic has provoked a need for digitization and new distribution models in the insurance industry. In the next 10 years, I believe we will see a lot of business development and innovation in the distribution space, and Insurance-as-a-Service or embedded insurance services will be more dominating. AI/ML will also morph from being mostly buzz to a cornerstone in pricing and prevention. I think the threat lies in the many opportunities that we are exposed to. If we look at the hype-cycle for emerging technologies, there are a flora of possibilities arising. Customers will need suitable methodologies to make the right choices.
Cloud Insure has recently announced its participation in Insurtech Hub Munich’s FIN:SURE. Can you tell us more about that and what you hope to gain from it?
Our participation in the FIN:SURE program has two motivations. Firstly, we wanted to increase our knowledge about the German fintech/insurtech space. Secondly, we believe that there is considerable potential in the collaboration between Fintech and Insurtech. Future customers want a predictable financial and safe/protected life – delivered as a service. To make this possible, we need to understand the whole ecosystem in the financial sector and define our role.
Finally, what are your top tips for forming a culture of innovation within a company?
– A diverse team is a prerequisite for innovation.
– Implement OKRs or another suitable goal-oriented framework. Don’t over-engineer it, but you need some focus, structure, and metrics to make sense of it all.
– Run many small experiments rather than few extensive experiments.
– Invert the pyramid. Empower your employees with trust, support, and responsibility.
– Take inspiration from the Cloud Insurance values: Act as team players, Learn and develop, Build for quality and durability, Challenge and innovate, Focus on clients, and Have fun!