An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Bryan Derbyshire, the founder and CEO of Protecht, which was honored in our:
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Phoenix
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Newport Beach
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Newport Beach
Tell us the origin story of Protecht – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I spent the last decade in eCommerce, specifically focused on payments and fraud, where I utilized micro-insurance policies to mitigate the risk of chargebacks and refund losses for eCommerce merchants. While doing so, we subsequently saw an increase in click-through conversions and top-line revenues by capturing the on-the-fence buyer, as these offerings led to a purchase based on the peace-of-mind of the buyer. Since the initial origin, the core value proposition has remained consistent for the end consumer, especially now in these times of uncertainty. With purchases for future events still in the air, we offer peace of mind that if you cannot attend for any of our covered reasons, you can get your money back. That value alone drives an increase in revenues and conversions, causing Protecht to become a core tool in protecting future revenues.
In addition since the initial concept and launch, we have spent the majority of our energy and efforts building a robust and award-winning tech stack focused on supporting our B2B platform partners. By offering real-time actionable data along with inventory control functionalities, we give our partners not only additional revenues and value for their consumers, but also transparency into the inner workings of their customer base. Lastly, over the years, we have not only built industry-leading technology and become one of the fastest growing InsurTech platforms in the country, but also backed that up with a complete and conservative operational fortitude, focused on best-in-class security and scalability to allow us to compete and partner with some of the largest platforms and marketplaces in the world.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
The biggest hurdle I encountered was balancing dreams and initial expectations with realistic goals and progress. I think as a startup, once you get past the proof of concept stage and know you are onto something, the early success can give a false hope and expectation of what the future may hold. In my experience, as you grow, so do your challenges; as you move upmarket, so do your customer’s needs/expectations, and once you get through the early adopters, the team will need to roll up their sleeves and dig-in to get through the rest of the adoption bell curve. Therefore, looking back, I should have doubled the timeframe I anticipated it would take to get to scale and thus doubled the initial money raised to ensure I had time to fully focus on getting there. Fortunately for Protecht, we had a team that could navigate those shifts and were able to work through those initial stages, but it required me to invest time raising money (again) instead of being where I wanted to be (which was head down focused on my company and its growth).
What does the future hold for Protecht?
To date, outside of the initial dream and concept that got me to leave my cushy corporate career for the all consuming world of building a company from scratch, we have been solely focused on the live-events space. We have built a robust product suite protecting event organizers, ticketing/registration platforms, marketplaces, and end-users, and we will continue to grow our market share in live-events and push internationally in late 2020. That said, we are going expand our total addressable market by pushing into new markets outside of live events. I am returning to my roots and hope to launch a product suite for eCommerce businesses while serving our end consumers, who are buying goods along with protecting their entertainment needs.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Newport Beach?
I think that Newport Beach is such a unique startup scene. Let’s not kid anyone – Newport Beach isn’t a startup mecca like the Bay Area, NYC, Austin, or even Boulder, but it does have something that I think a lot of those “traditional” startup cities don’t – proven mentors. Since Newport Beach is home to some of the most wealthy and thus PROVEN people in this country, it offers a melting pot of successful stories, experiences, and advice from those have done it and done it well. Therefore, what I think you see here in Newport Beach tends to me a more established or mature founder scene. Instead of coming straight out of college, eating ramen, and sleeping on couches, most tend to be previously successful in other ventures or from corporate America (like me). I think this mix is unique, as in my opinion, most of the Newport Beach startups don’t have the same boom or bust mentality prevalent in hubs like Silicon Valley. I see long term business decisions being made. It’s a refreshing and “conservative” approach that reflects their mature and proven backgrounds.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is only that they know their risk threshold. Therefore, as long as they can live with failure and they believe in themselves enough to know they can make it through, then I say jump in with both feet. Entrepreneurship is an ALL-IN mindset and outside of a few lucky or already ridiculously wealthy individuals, I cannot think of many successful entrepreneurs that slowly dipped their toes in and waded into the waters. I would also tell them to be flexible with the details of their dream, as they have to be able to pivot while staying true to the purpose or ultimate value they wanted to bring to the market. Lastly, I tell this to all aspiring entrepreneurs – raise more money than you think you need as there is something you don’t know yet and you will need it. Equity is great but owning a large percentage of something that failed isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, so make sure you can stay on the court long enough to show what can be done.