Ángel Blesa of Codeoscopic tells us about transforming insurance sales.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ángel Blesa: We’re all lucky enough to keep fine so far, with no relevant health issues have affected my family or close ones during the pandemic. Our region, Aragón, is currently going through a 4th Covid-19 wave, so the only chance is to keep alert and meet all the public health advice, social distancing, and restrictions in order to contribute our best.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Codeoscopic.
Ángel Blesa: My background is in computer software, and I hold a degree in computer science, but my current position is as CEO at Codeoscopic, of which I am both a partner and co-founder. Having started 12 years ago a small company focused on the wedding market (it was actually a tool to help users prepare their weddings), I then joined Codeoscopic in 2009. Since I had some expertise in startups, venture capital, and entrepreneurship, I helped the original founders of Codeoscopic raise capital for their Avant2 project. Firstly I assumed the position as COO, with the main goal of structuring the company: hire more people, connect all departments to work together (sales, developers, and product managers), and make sure everything was working well and coordinated. Then as the company kept growing, we redesigned the structure of our operations, and in 2018 I became the CEO.
How does Codeoscopic innovate?
Ángel Blesa: At Codeoscopic, we create technology aimed at connecting the main players in the insurance business as well as digitizing all the different processes involved in their activities. Avant2 was primarily a sales tool, connecting insurance companies with brokers. It brought three great attributes to the market: it was reliable because it ensured that the broker would get in Avant2 the same prices and guarantees as if he was doing the sale on the company’s own web service; also, Avant2 worked fast, thus increasing brokerage’s productivity; and finally, its portfolio grew all the time, so the range of insurance products available on the platform was soon unrivaled and made it a consistent leader in the national Spanish market. Now we have evolved Avant2 into a sales manager by adding a CRM to the original aggregator, thus reinforcing production with a 360º management of the broker’s customer base. Finally, our recent strategy has been acquiring a majority share in some small tech companies (like TE-SIS Soluciones, SACS, and Innova Ibérica), which have developed platforms that solve other needs brokers must face in their day to day activity. In doing so, we are moving towards a suite of technological solutions all focused on the insurance market. How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances? We went through a dip in production back in March 2020, when the pandemic first hit Spain, and the national government decreed a state of alarm. The ensuing confinement of all the population determined a general lockdown of companies and a sudden halt of all activities. Also, there was a period of transition in which companies and brokerages shifted from presential work to a home office model, which was never easy. This all amounted to a 40% slump in production in Avant2, so we answered back by launching a plan with prize deductions and other benefits in our services, in order to help our customers get through and keep their productivity alive in hard times. By June, recovery started to become a reality, and even in the conditions given, we managed to close 2020 growing numbers both in production and revenue, which makes us very proud and happy for the company and all our customers and partners.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Ángel Blesa: Quite the opposite, really: our business was solid enough, and the pandemic did not change our employing policy at all. On the contrary, we have been bringing aboard new staff members all along 2020 (hired 15 new employees), and it’s gonna be the same in the new year. The lesson learned has actually been a confirmation: no matter how big it may be, a problem always brings along an opportunity. We embraced that philosophy since we started Codeoscopic, and this pandemic has shown us how true that assertion is.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Ángel Blesa: We have been using a CRM tool for some years now, but we have a strong belief that any tool is as good as your ability to feed it and optimize its use: so we have been transforming and adapting all our internal processes in order to manage customer information in an integral way and keep growing in efficiency. Webinars and online training sessions were already an integral part of our communications and customer strategy, so that has worked smoothly in the Covid-19 scenario. Now we are implementing a new web-based training platform as well as a payment gateway for license hiring, which will further grow online interaction with our customers.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Ángel Blesa: No, I didn’t really have a need for that. We didn’t have to make any adjustments and have grown in employees through the pandemic, actually. We were solid enough to rely on our own resources as a company.
Your final thoughts?
Ángel Blesa: At Codeoscopic, we always keep a healthy, positive look ahead. Our vision is to build a digital ecosystem for insurance distribution and to become a leading insurtech platform in Europe that provides connectivity for all insurers, brokers, and in general for any other intermediaries.
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