The ‘Startups that are built to last’ RG Connect18 session will discuss the necessary characteristics ecosystems need to produce and support startups built to last. The session will ask what characteristics startups need to have to stand the test and challenges of time and how to build a company that’s attractive to international investors.
Co-Founder & Executive Directors at Hellas Direct, Emilios Markou and Alexis Pantazis, will be speaking at the session and Victoria Seymour-Stathopoulou, Co-Founder at Paved, will moderate the panel. In today’s guest blog, speaker Alexis Pantazis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hellas Direct, shares his experience of setting up Hellas Direct and gives some interesting advice to young entrepreneurs thinking of setting up their own business.
Hellas Direct is a digital-first, full-stack insurance company, empowered by cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence. Founded in 2011, Hellas Direct have been backed by a roster of all-star investors including the IFC (World Bank), Third Point LLC, Portag3 and they are a long-term strategic partnership with Swiss Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers. They have raised EUR 23.8m to date, over four rounds and they closed their Series B in January 2018. Over the past few years, Alexis has privately invested in a number of different ventures, focusing on angel financing and the strategic use of technology in the financial services space. He has held advisory roles and participated at Board level across a number of different start-up companies.
Modelled after Amazon, Hellas Direct aim to revolutionize the insurance value chain by adopting an extreme focus on operational excellence. Their competitive edge is a lean and more efficient cost-structure. They “focus on hiring smart, passionate people with the drive to change the world then encourage them to rethink everything, challenge all assumptions and take nothing for granted.” They now have 83 employees, including 4 PhDs, a stand-up comedian and a bee-keeper!
After high growth, Hellas Direct now have a run-rate revenue of EUR 15m and 175,000 transactions per year. Their multi-product, multi-geography and ecosystem-expansion approach has led to the company being ranked alongside Lemonade, Oscar, Zhong Ahn, Metromile and Alan as one of the most innovative insurtech players in the world. The company are now at a pivotal point deciding whether to go international or dominate their local markets first.
In today’s RG Connect18 guest blog, Alexis shares five things they learnt while setting up Hellas Direct:
IT PAYS TO BE BORING:
- Choose a sector and stick with it. Resist chasing the latest bubble.
- Focus on blind-spot markets. They offer much better margins.
- Don’t be afraid to go for something venture capital firms don’t like.
GO AFTER LONGER-TERM, MACRO TRENDS YOU BELIEVE IN:
- Vilification of the banks (golden boys, civil servants, losing the war for talent).
- A push for fairness (unbundling, increased regulation, transparency).
- The rise of the consumer (social media, free expression, global movements).
BUILD A GREAT COMPANY:
- Don’t go for the quick flip. You are setting up yourself for failure if you do.
- Stand up for what you believe in – be authentic, original and relevant.
- It’s all about the people. Spend time on your culture. Hire slow and fire fast.
IT ALWAYS TAKES LONGER (HANG IN THERE!):
- No start-up has ever turned out according to its original plan. Ever.
- Maximise your strategic optionality, without losing your focus.
- You will have setbacks – learn fast, get back on your feet and enjoy the ride.
THE ODDS ARE ALWAYS STACKED AGAINST YOU:
- We sent out 2,500 emails to potential investors during our first round.
- We met 300 of them in 14 different countries, over a year and a half.
- We had a 99.56% probability of failing (there is a higher chance of betting all your money on black in a roulette and winning – seven consecutive times!).
Don’t miss your chance to meet Alexis Pantazis and Emilios Markou at RG Connect18. Hear about the 43 international speakers, the broad range of ‘Learn, Connect, Inspire’ sessions and how to register here today.