We talked to Frederik Kehler, CMO at 21RISK, a one platform for businesses’ risk management and compliance needs and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Frederik Kehler: These are challenging times for all of us, mostly I am just happy that the people around me, and myself including co-founders and employees are healthy and well. We often take things for granted, until we don’t have them anymore. I think that’s the big lesson in this pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded 21RISK.
Frederik Kehler: I have been a founder since a very young age, and have spent time in digital marketing roles, or as an agency owner. While finishing my Master’s Degree at Copenhagen Business School, I met two incredibly talented individuals that held very comprehensive IT skills, and we later teamed up with experienced leaders from the insurance industry, to ultimately create 21RISK.
How does 21RISK innovate?
Frederik Kehler: Essentially, we all spent a lot of time watching how large players in the industry are doing things, always looking for a ‘chink in the armour’. Meanwhile, we try to separate us from the ‘trend waves’ in the industry and try to challenge the status quo of how things are done. Insurance has been a very ineffective industry for years, mostly due to the lack of acting on data or even just collecting data. In the past few years, most have stepped up to the challenge of collecting data, but most are still bewildered in terms of how they should turn that data into action that will improve risk.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Frederik Kehler: In short, we had a lot of pipeline deals ‘postponed’ due to spending freezes, people having to prioritize differently in times of crisis etc. I will say that I believe we are much better off now than before.
The ‘risk agenda’ has been moved significantly as a result of this pandemic, and it has become apparent for most that bad things really do happen.
Besides, I think it has activated a line of thought that revolves around ‘what else could go wrong’ and that makes our risk reduction platform, very valuable, to a new set of customers that previously wouldn’t have prioritized the same. In short, ‘risk happens’ has been made clear to everyone, that previously was discounting it, at the basis of low probability. As such, COVID-19 has catapulted our agenda in a way that helps the general public accept existing risks in their environment much better, while ultimately managing risks, instead of ignoring them.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Frederik Kehler: In short, all of our ‘wonderful expansion plans’ were paused almost immediately, since new revenue was no longer expected. The lesson learned is: that’s ok. In the midst of a global pandemic, we should appreciate what we have, because many others don’t. Besides, we have had to focus our sales efforts on leads that are less affected, meaning we have to be agile in the way we approach ‘prioritizing our time’.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Frederik Kehler: We talk. Quite a lot. Between the four founders of the company, we have many perspectives on this as individuals, but also suggestions as to how we should perceive this situation as a company in 2021. Perhaps this is a change for all startups and scaleups to prove, they are as agile as they claim. Whether they are forced to do product changes, or business model changes, in order to fit the new reality. Now is the time to act.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Frederik Kehler: Our biggest competitor is definitely Microsoft Excel, just because of the nativeness it provides. Everyone knows how to work a sheet in Excel, although not everyone knows how to build it. Its incredibly efficient, and then it’s free as a part of the subscription the company is already paying. Obviously, we have loads of other competitors in terms of audit software, ESHQ, claims and much more – but most often, we see that Excel is the preferred choice. Subsequently, our plan to stay in the game hasn’t changed with COVID-19, as Microsoft Excel was prevalent long before COVID-19 and probably also long after its gone.
Your final thoughts?
Frederik Kehler: These are challenging times. As people, as founders, as co-workers, parents etc. We are learning new things about ourselves, our limits, our priorities and much more. I hope that communities can come together in times of need, rather than divide. If we have learned anything this past year, its that we are much stronger together than apart.