Jay Paul of Buddy

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Jay Paul, the co-founder and Head of Business Development of Buddy, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Buddy – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

At Buddy, our entire team is made up of outdoor enthusiasts. We are climbers, cyclists, ski/boarders, paddlers, adventure racers, triathletes, ultra runners, thru-trail hikers, and just general adventure junkies. Over the years, we have all suffered accidents as a result of our outdoor pursuits. We’ve had friends seriously injured and a few killed pursing their outdoor passions. We’ve watched and personally felt the pain associated with the financial cost of these injuries. In the world of high deductibles (where the average individual deductible is higher that $4,000), most Americans cannot afford the cost of an emergency room visit, let alone the cost of a hospital stay. So we created Buddy as a cost effective way to insure our outdoor brethren from the unexpected cost of an injury. We can sell our coverage for periods of time as little as a day, as long a year, or anything in between. Our benefits are paid directly to our customers, not medical providers or facilities. We have no underwriting and a policy can be purchased from a mobile device in less that 90 seconds and delivered electronically immediately to your phone. This has never been done before in the insurance industry.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

The highest hurdles we’ve had to jump and are still jumping are the regulatory hurdles associated with filing new insurance coverage forms and pricing in all 50 states. Our on-demand accident insurance is something that has never been done before in the insurance industry and certain nameless state regulators have had a hard time getting their arms around our efforts. Most have been very supportive but a few have been very narrow-minded and difficult to work with.

What does the future hold for Buddy?

We have developed our coverage and are selling in multiple states. We have partnered with numerous state and national associations and have started our first API integrations. We should live in most states by the end of the 2nd quarter 2020. It’s all about scaling our business at this point. The press we have been receiving from national publications like Outside Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Men’s Heath’s, and Ski Area Management Magazine have given us a certain amount of “street cred” in the outdoor community and opened many doors to facilitate our growth.

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

Richmond is a diamond in the rough. We have a great tech community here and a support network that is exceptional. Buddy operates out of the Capital One Innovation Center also known as StartUp Virginia in downtown Richmond. The energy in this place is so contagious and I’d stack it up against anywhere in the country as far as talent is concerned. We might be small compared to some places but we have a lot of brilliant folks who love the ease of living in a vibrant mid-sized city.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself early with bright and painfully honest individuals and mentors who share your passion but don’t mind letting you know what they really think. The startup world is no place for shrinking violets!


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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