Snejina Zacharia of Insurify

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

After a car accident while finishing my MBA at MIT, my car insurance rates skyrocketed and I decided to look for a better policy. I found that the process was both frustrating and inefficient, resulting in dozens of phone calls and a spam-filled inbox. So I set out to fix the process myself by creating the nation’s best full-service digital insurance agent, Insurify. Since then, our mission has been to empower consumers to make the best decision about their coverage and policy by leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Starting a marketplace requires getting both the carrier side and the customer acquisition side right. It does not make sense to spend money on customer acquisition unless you have collected a strong group of carriers to present a great customer experience. As an outsider in the industry, I underestimated how much longer it takes for the industry to move forward and how much more work it will take to convince the first carriers to join the platform.

I spent hundreds of hours data-mining LinkedIn, identifying the right industry leaders and pitching the story until I finally got the first partners to agree to join the platform. It took another 6-8 months to get approvals from carriers to present their rates online on Insurify. My advisor would often tell me: “This industry operates in years and you want them to move in weeks”. We had to be patient and keep pushing forward. Once we launched the platform, the product and experience was so differentiated from anything the industry had seen before that carriers started reaching back to inquire about participation on the platform.

Fundraising as a first time entrepreneur is hard. I did not want this to discourage me. I have always been execution focused and I just focused on building a sustainable business and growing our revenue. Ultimately, we attracted some of the smartest investors in Insurtech, investors who value us based on our accomplishments and results.

What does the future hold for Insurify?

The Insurify team plans to press forward with revolutionizing the insurance landscape, continuing to broaden and perfect our home, auto, and life insurance comparison experiences, with planned expansions into pet and health insurance ahead. Continuing to grow our team and customer base remains a priority, in addition to expanding our white label partnerships. Last year, we established partnerships with Nationwide and Toyota. We’re looking forward to forming more great relationships with other industry giants. Insurify’s competitive edge lies in our state-of-the-art AI technology, which is constantly evolving to best serve our customers. There are endless possibilities of change in the industry and globally, so we are never finished building the “perfect product”. We prioritize innovation and curiosity at Insurify, and I have every confidence those values will propel us even further.

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

Boston is home to some of the best universities in the world and, as such, has always attracted exceptionally smart and driven people. While the area is very focused on biotech and B2B startups, it is exciting to see great successes such as Kayak, Cargurus, Wayfair, Drizly, PillPack, and Chewy, just to name a few. Boston had been trailing New York City as the second largest startup funding hub, but in recent years, it has outpaced the Big Apple. It is exciting to see new ventures taking form all around us. Where we’re located in Cambridge is especially vibrant. Not far from the MIT and Harvard campuses, Kendall Square is alive with visionaries working to create the next big thing. The growing entrepreneurial spirit in Boston is palpable, and we are proud to be participating members.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
  • Focus on building a strong team – your team is your most valuable asset.
  • Listening skills are extremely important. Never behave like the smartest person in the
    room. You could be missing out on some of the best ideas.
  • Empower your team to take risks and persevere in the face of failure. Help them learn
    how to fail, how to deal with failure, and how to move forward.
  • Focus on execution – revenue solves all problems. Success will follow.
  • Be patient – building a successful startup always takes longer than it looks from the
    outside.

 

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