For our latest Start-up Spotlight series, we spoke to Ranvir Saggu, the CEO and founder of Blocksure. Ranvir is leading the Blocksure team to distribute its insurance platform to insurance providers to offer protection in untapped insurance markets with tailored insurance that can help drive social and economic benefits.
He is focused on microinsurance, the gig economy, embedded insurance, and schemes/programs. These markets are all typified by lower premiums and higher volumes, and they can all be serviced with a single technology platform.
He has seen first the inefficiencies involved in insurance distribution. He has led the team to build a platform that removes all of these and fully automates the unnecessary processes, leaving the value-adding human interactions in place.
Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you better. So, can you tell us a bit of your “backstory” and how you got started?
An experienced insurance executive with over 30 years of in-depth h of experience across composite insurers, MGAs, brokers, and claims TPAs. He is accomplished in change management, delivering large transformational programmes, and building high-performance teams.
What was the most exciting story that happened to you since you launched your startup?
Working with our insurance partners, a UK-based broker and insurer, to launch the first insurance product based on a blockchain-based platform. This was a first in the global insurance market, allowing us to win more projects in several other countries worldwide.
No startup founder is immune from making mistakes, and it’s part of the “growing pains” they go through. Can you share one mistake you’ve made with us and the valuable lesson it taught you?
The biggest lesson is learning how long projects take to get to market and produce a good revenue stream. The insurance value chain comprises several parties who must agree on the various aspects of a product, terms of trade and reporting.
In the early days, Blocksure planned to release products and start generating revenues quickly. We have learnt to allow a longer lead time for revenue generation built into our forecasts.
There has been much talk about supporting diversity and inclusion among startup investors. This may be obvious to you, but can you share with our readers why it’s so crucial for investors to support startups with a diverse and inclusive executive team?
Diversity is key to any business. As CEO of Blocksure, I have ensured that we have diversity across several areas, including experience, perspective, gender and ethnicity. The benefits are greater depth and breadth of knowledge and attitude, which provides:
- The different perspectives allow us to see a situation from multiple angles so that they can make better decisions, provided that all voices can and want to be heard.
- A greater sense of trust and safety as long as everyone is allowed the opportunity to voice their opinions.
- Better employee engagement and customer relationships.
- Increased awareness through a more comprehensive understanding of a business’s landscape.
- Improved ability to test decision-making and judgement, leading to better delivery of new opportunities.
- Ability to attract and retain top talent with a more authentic representation of the external world.
- Lastly, it is more fun with a more diverse team.
What would that be and why if you can inspire a movement that would bring a positive change within your community?
The global insurance industry can deliver significant economic improvements in the lives of the poorest people, which would benefit more than four billion people globally. It has the capital resources and product capabilities, which are now available with Blocksure OS.
I want the insurance industry to grasp this opportunity and deliver for the poorest communities. Businesses would benefit from ESG, and financial perspectives whilst the local community would develop economically.
If you had a chance to spend a day with someone and have the liberty to ask anything, who would that person be? What three questions would you ask?
It would be Charlie Chaplin, and I would ask him:
- What drove him forward when he was forced to fend for himself at the age of 10.
- What made him develop his unique look?
- What did he find funny?
Can you share your favourite life quote with us and why this is so relevant to you?
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein
Great! Thanks for that. Now, let’s go to the main focus of this interview. Can you share the story behind that “A-ha Moment” that led to creating and launching your startup?
I spent two years researching blockchain, understanding the technology and its capabilities. It became apparent that blockchain was designed to remove all the manual processes in the insurance industry and benefit everyone involved, especially policyholders.
One of the most significant benefits is that it will allow the delivery of products the industry could not build before.
What do you think makes your startup stand out? Can you share with us examples to show this?
Blocksure OS is a full-service policy administration system that will integrate with proprietary systems. Blocksure is the only DLT and innovative contract solution implemented in multiple geographies.
Blocksure’s uniqueness stems from its deep knowledge of the operational insurance ecosystem and its application of that knowledge to build a platform for low-cost microinsurance delivery via an intermediated supply chain.
Our experience tells us that the intermediated insurance supply chain carries significant inefficiencies and inbuilt costs that prevent the insurance market from supplying microinsurance at high volumes and low prices.
Blocksure OS has harnessed distributed ledger technology with smart contracts to provide each party to the insurance transaction with its ledger, completely synchronised with the ledgers of its counterparties, that records each component of the insurance transaction in detail and matches cash movements automatically to the ledger records.
Each party has a full, real-time record of the insurance transaction that is always in complete agreement with its partners. Cash is automatically allocated to each party on receipt, and all client money-handling issues are eliminated.
It allows insurance providers to reach billions of customers they could not previously and improve the profitability of existing lower-premium products.
This has led to Blocksure having a solid pipeline of products.
What are some “myths” or misconceptions people have when launching a startup that you’ve debunked throughout your journey?
Most people think launching a startup is easy, progress is made quickly, and projects will be fast to launch.
In reality, there are many dependencies on incumbent insurance partners to deliver lead to slower delivery of projects. Startups and their incumbent partners work at different speeds with differing priorities, which can be frustrating.
We have learnt that this needs to be built into business plans and forecasts, so you plan for the delays as a startup. At Blocksure, we have also developed techniques to assist our partners in delivery quicker, e.g. taking some of their delivery burden or building capabilities into the platform that means they can develop products quicker with less effort.
If there’s one significant difference between launching a startup and launching a small business, what would that be and why?
I have never launched a small business, so it is difficult to comment.
If I restrict my comments to Blocksure, we are launching a new proposition for the global insurance industry. There is demand, and our first activity has been to educate potential clients on how the platform and underlying technology can assist them in developing new products and capabilities. Once we have overcome the initial barriers, then we can sell our platform.
When launching a small business, a customer base already understands the product and will be willing to buy. This should mean it is easier to launch a small business.
The startup will be slower in the initial phase of launch but has the potential to grow much quicker once its offering is understood by potential customers. The startup can potentially be a much larger business than a small one.
What are the top three traits that entrepreneurs must possess to launch a startup successfully? Can you expound on why you chose these three traits?
It is a cliche and one you cannot get away from – Focus, hard work and determination. It is easy to get distracted from your vision and targets, especially when things are not going well or moving as fast as you want. It can lead to a startup trying to do too much or trying new ideas that distract from what is going to work. That said, external guidance is essential and has assisted me in ensuring the Blocksure is focused on the correct projects.
Determination is needed to keep going when things get tough, and they always do for startups. Any founder needs a mindset that drives them forward whilst understanding their environment to make the right decisions, including pivoting where necessary.
Nothing comes easy, as it is a competitive world out there, and a founder needs to be able to put in the graft. This includes doing jobs that you never thought they would. I see myself as everything from the stationery person, agony aunt, and finance manager to CEO.
Let’s flip things around: What do you believe are the three things that can cause a startup founder not to become successful, and why?
No market/product fit, complacency and expecting a startup to be successful because it seems like a good idea.
I worked for a large Chinese conglomerate sourcing fintech deals, and the lessons I learnt there have stood me in good stead. Firstly, I would be approached by founders who had a good idea because the solution was personal to them. They were not a typical customer, and the idea was targeting a very small market. Others would want me to support their projects because they had a good presentation but no delivery experience or were unwilling to put in the hard work.
You need product/market fit, and you must be prepared to do the hard work.
As a parting gift to our readers, what are the top three pieces of advice you can give them about launching a startup and why? Please share a story for each.
The three pieces of advice are:
- Manage your cash. The only thing that will kill a startup is running out of cash. This would be number two and three as well!
- Surround yourself with good people, both in terms of advisers and delivery.
- Always ask clients for feedback on your product and refine it where necessary.
Thank you for these fantastic insights and for your time. We truly appreciate it and wish you all the best on your journey.
Blocksure Is Raising!
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