David McFarland of Coterie Insurance

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with David McFarland (co-founder and CEO) of Coterie Insurance, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Coterie Insurance – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

We started Coterie in 2018 with the belief that small business insurance should be simple, fast and affordable. Across the U.S., small and micro business accounts for two-thirds of new jobs. Despite this central role, the commercial insurance market has not kept up with the needs of small business, leaving 75% of businesses underinsured and nearly half of small business without any insurance at all. At a time when each day seems to bring new and unprecedented challenges, small businesses, as well as the communities they support, need our support. This is why we set out to simplify commercial insurance, using digital tools to reinvigorate the industry. We’re meeting people wherever insurance is relevant to them. If they want to go to an agent, we help the agent, if they want to get coverage through their accounting tools, we’re there.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Belief in the vision was probably the biggest hurdle. We turn this vision into a reality by doing two things: Owning the tech product and owning the insurance product. Owning the tech product enables us to meet customers in new ways and create features that focus on empowering small business owners and helping our partners. Owning the insurance product enables us to use data and tech to inform how we build the insurance product to better serve small businesses and make the lives our partners easier (e.g., expansive class appetites, using data to price policies more efficiently, 100% digital underwriting). This was a big shift from other models and is much more labor intensive to get things going.

What does the future hold for Coterie Insurance?

We’ve got an exciting roadmap ahead of us for how we’re altering the commercial insurance space. Above all, we’re going to demonstrate how data can be used to help small businesses and our distribution partners thrive. Thanks to our $50 million Series B financing round, we are ready to accelerate the industry forward and make life easier for entrepreneurs to get rid of risk in a way that works for them.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Cincinnati?

Every day, we see new evidence of the city’s transformation into a hub for innovation and technology. Working alongside some of the brightest and most forward-thinking minds in tech, we’re excited to be able to play a role in this change.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Culture trumps strategy. Folks tend to get carried away with building a schedule or framework or figuring out how they will break apart their year to achieve a certain goal. The reality is that what is on the inside will have more of an impact on success than your plans. The best-laid plans go awry. When they do, and they will, who you are inside steps up. What’s true for the individual, is true for the team. Plans are good, but culture can make a company great.


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