What we learned in the first year of an insurtech startup

Our value proposition is resonating in the marketplace and brokers are loving what they’ve seen, but building a company is never easy. In this article, Seraina Macia outlines some of the big lessons she's learned over the past year and provides some tips for other entrepreneurs who are considering starting a business.

We started Joyn just over a year ago to transform the commercial insurance industry and provide a better insurance experience for brokers and insureds. We’ve accomplished a lot over the past year, from developing a brand to building technology to opening for business. Today, we’re proud to say that Joyn is live and accepting submissions in 28 states (plus Washington, DC).

When we started Joyn Insurance, we had a clear view of what we were setting out to do: transform the commercial insurance industry by leveraging technology, data, and expertise to create a transparent, trusted, and truly one-of-a-kind insurance experience for brokers and insureds alike. And while the insurance industry is a large market that has long been ripe for such a transformation, there are a lot of things to learn when starting a company, whether the market is primed for it or not.

Over the past year, Joyn has amassed a long list of accomplishments, including unveiling our brand and vision, announcing strategic partnerships, securing investment, building a world class team, and opening for business. One of our biggest accomplishments has been building a revolutionary technology platform that provides customers and clients with a faster, more accurate, and more transparent user experience that saves brokers and insureds time, costs, and unnecessary frustration.

While it has been incredibly satisfying to see our value proposition resonate in the marketplace, there are many lessons that we’ve learned along the way.

Every day matters. The biggest thing I’ve learned as the CEO of an insurtech startup is that every day is significant, with the potential to be a life or death turning point for your company. While large organizations may have good days and bad days, they are more likely to have the capacity and resources to weather missteps and course correct with little to no significant disruption. With a new entrant to the market, though, even a minor mistake can have tremendously impactful ripples. That means, as the CEO, you have to prepare yourself for a true emotional rollercoaster because the existential questions are the CEO’s burden.

Have a vision people will believe in. One of our biggest successes—and one of my biggest surprises—is the way that people saw our vision, believed in it instantly, and were willing to take great personal and professional risks to follow us into uncharted territories. In our early days, we didn’t have funding, we didn’t have a balance sheet, but we did have a strong, clear, and resolute vision. As a result, the team we were putting together were fully bought in. That they were willing to start work in a period of great uncertainty is a driving force when experiencing the periods of self-doubt that inevitably come when starting any company.

Build the right team and empower them. We were very fortunate to have a deep pool of talent who we worked with previously, but we had to make a lot of very tough people choices. We knew we needed a team that was willing and able to wear multiple hats, who could roll up their sleeves and do the big tasks as well as the menial ones, and who could think like an owner. Those attributes, in my opinion, are the most critical things to assembling the right team in the early days of a company. You also have to empower your team to make decisions, give them as much responsibility as they can handle, and stand behind them, regardless of their experience level. I am so proud of our team and how everyone has stepped up to the plate when called upon, and it has created a culture of true collaboration and transparency where everyone is valued.

While we have had our share of challenges, just one year after unveiling Joyn’s brand, objective, and market entry timing, we are now live in 28 states and Washington, D.C., with lines of business in an additional 18 states expected in early 2022. Our team continues to grow. Our technology is working and the brokers we work with are excited about our value proposition. That means that as we look to the year ahead, we have a strong foundation that will allow us to continue building, continue listening to the marketplace, and continue refining our value proposition so we can truly be the transformative force we envisioned from the outset.

Big things are ahead and we are ready to show you exactly how joyful the insurance experience can be. Reach out to letstalk@localhost to learn more about how you can join forces with us.

Written by Seraina Macia, CEO of Joyn


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