On the latest episode of our Sønr spotlight series, we had the chance to speak with Niall Barton, who sits at the helm of Wrisk, a personal insurance platform aiming to rethink the policy purchase, management and claims processes.
Launched late 2015, the budding insurtech made headlines last month after it successfully secured £750,000 through its third equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs.
Hi Niall, can you tell us about yourself and what your company does?
I’ve worked in the insurance sector for my whole career. Seen it from almost every angle. Start-ups to Marsh/Berkshire Hathaway; underwriting to broking; Personal Lines to ILS fund. And I enjoy the balance of pushing change, while respecting the enormous wealth of knowledge/experience within the sector.
Where did the idea for Wrisk come from? What makes it unique?
I watched the explosive adoption of Monzo/Revolut etc. by consumers and asked myself where was the insurance equivalent? With the very simple hypothesis of wanting to build the latter, I now take comfort from looking at the reviews for Wrisk on the App Store, that we are firmly on the journey to fulfil this vision. But it’s hard, hard work.
As an insurance guy by background, I’m now taking particular pleasure in seeing the reactions from incumbent insurers in this country and overseas when they are shown Wrisk (including some of the features we have not yet released to the public).
The versatility of the platform (end to end, digital first, multi-product) is suddenly much more than an app. Wrisk is an end-to-end, digital-first, multi-product enterprise technology platform that insurers can license and use for its digital-first customers.
“I watched the explosive adoption of Monzo/Revolut etc. by consumers and asked myself where was the insurance equivalent?”Niall Barton
What do you see as the most important qualities in a company’s team?
In our case, I’d say the very close working relationship between designers, engineers and insurance specialists. Wrisk has been built from the customer’s perspective from day one, and that means the feedback from customers, regulators, actuaries etc. is part of the daily rhythm for the engineers and designers.
Once again, you smashed your target by taking home £750,000 in your third equity crowdfunding round on Seedrs. What do you plan to do with the fresh financing?
1. Developing our product to increase our share of wallet: We’ll be adding new lines of insurance; next is car insurance. We are in the process of working with insurance partners to bring this product to market this summer.
2. Building an omni-channel experience. We are extending our existing iOS experience by launching Android in May 2019.
3. Scaling adoption: Significantly grow new customers from c1000 to several thousands per month through new B2B2C distribution partnerships.
In just a few years, you’ve managed to secure partnerships with leading global brands like Munich RE, BMW, and Hiscox. How crucial have these alliances been to Wrisk’s development, and will you be looking to partner with any further companies in 2019?
I tend to think you judge people by the company they keep. And for Wrisk, it was really important that we had strong underwriting partners, strong distribution partners and strong investment partners. Some corporates are happy to be early backers of a new venture. But most corporates want to be involved when others have already signed up. We’re able to open many more doors and start many more interesting conversations, as we can show we’re already working with Munich Re, BMW, Hiscox, and so on.
“We’re able to open many more doors and start many more interesting conversations, as we can show we’re already working with Munich Re, BMW, Hiscox, and so on.”Niall Barton
When you entered BMW’s Innovation Lab, you were considered a wildcard by some critics. Do you feel being an underdog offers you any unique advantages?
Not sure that it’s the “underdog” tag that offers any particular advantage. I’m not embarrassed to admit that sometimes things come down to timing. In the BMW/Wrisk case, we appeared on the scene at a rare moment in time when they saw that world of mobility was going to need more innovate and flexible insurance solutions.
Wrisk popped up with a prototype that they could see would meet their needs. Perfect timing for both parties, but then the hard work began and continues. BMW have been an excellent partner to work with.
Name another new venture within the insurance ecosystem who inspires you. Why?
Azur. Their platform has already attracted partnerships with some of the world’s most respected insurance groups.
One piece of advice for aspiring startups looking to disrupt the insurance industry?
Make sure you’ve got enough stamina for the challenge.
Finally, your go-to TV series right now?
To learn more about Wrisk, head to their profile.