Armin Kia, CEO and one of Driverly’s co-founders, talks to interviewer, Amy, about what made him take that leap of faith and take his business idea to the next level.
Hi Armin. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi Amy. In a nutshell, I see myself as an insurtech entrepreneur. I have a background in technology and seven years’ experience with Admiral Group, the largest car insurer in the UK. I enjoy launching new products and propositions using cutting-edge data and technology. This is what I previously did for Admiral Group and what I’m doing now at Driverly.
Why did you decide to start Driverly?
The car insurance market is highly attractive in terms of market size and distribution opportunities for young brands. However, it doesn’t work for young drivers. Car insurance is expensive, boring, unfair, and far from transparent for most young drivers. We believe we can change that with Driverly.
Were you always sure that it’s a good decision to start your own insurtech business?
The short answer is no. When I came up with the idea, I knew I needed to test it before making any decision. The first test was a customer survey that we conducted early on. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which was a good sign. The second test was to discuss the business plan with a few industry experts. I was delighted that no one told me it was ridiculous. The third and most important test was my co-founder team. I was always clear that I wouldn’t do this unless I had the right people with me. Fortunately, both of my co-founders – Nestor Alonso and Mohammad Alinia – liked the idea and trusted me to co-found Driverly. I wouldn’t do it without them.
What can we hope to see from Driverly in the future?
We hope to see a new proposition that truly disrupts the car insurance market in a meaningful way. We aim to change the way customers engage with their insurance provider, the way their insurance is priced, and the way they’re rewarded for their good driving behaviour. We believe that the flexibility of our product, coupled with a smart use of driving behaviour data, will make car insurance work for good drivers.
How does Driverly plan to disrupt the motor insurance market?
Our differentiation stems from a combination of technology innovation and product innovation. In terms of technology innovation, we use app-based telematics to assess customers’ driving behaviour. This means that the customers don’t need to install a black box device in their cars. All they need to do is download the Driverly app. Simple. Our product innovation is based on a monthly subscription model. With Driverly, you don’t have to commit to an annual policy. You’ll be on a monthly policy with no cancellation fee and no interest rate. The combination of these innovations enables Driverly to build a car insurance proposition that engages with the customers based on their driving behaviour, and adjusts the prices on a monthly basis. This is great for safe drivers, great for our underwriting partner and great for our investors.
There were concerns that the pandemic might have a detrimental impact on those insurance businesses seeking funding to expand and grow their firms. Has that played out as expected?
We’ve been extremely lucky so far in our funding journey. We have the three angel investors, all very senior leaders in the financial services sector, plus Development Bank of Wales. In fact, we were overfunded in our last funding round.
I believe this success is partially down to the strength of the proposition, the team and the technology; and partially due to our strategic position in the car insurance industry. Car insurance is one of the very few recession-proof industries: drivers need car insurance in every economic condition. Moreover, an economic downturn means a higher level of customer price sensitivity, which means our fair pricing model is now even more valuable to our customers.