First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Quentin Colmant : Thanks for asking. So far, I cannot complain. Like most of the people, I have been locked down for already two and half months at home with my family. The situation was quite unique because we started the lock-down with a 3-week-old baby girl (my second one). So she has grown without contact with the external world so far!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
Quentin Colmant : After my graduation in Engineering School (Applied Mathematics and Finance), I started working for one of the largest insurance companies worldwide. So I’ve been working in the insurance industry since the very first day of my career. I had the opportunity to tackle several positions, from strategy, M&A, projects to underwriting, business development and management.
In 2012, I took a one-year career break to pursue a MBA at ESMT (European School of Management & Technology in Berlin) which was sponsored by my employer. This MBA really gave me the motivation to start an entrepreneurial career, but I first had to reimburse my MBA sponsorship by working for my employer for another 3 years.
After these three years, I resigned and began my adventure in entrepreneurship with one of my best friends, Jean-Charles Velge. Jean-Charles Velge and I met at University when I was studying for my second Master’s in Finance. Jean-Charles also did an MBA in in Hong-Kong in 2012. We always knew we would do something together, but we didn’t know when or what.
Then, being in the world of Insurance, and also a bit of a tech-nerd on some side projects, I discovered in 2013 a company called “STRIPE” and their amazing concept of OPEN API providing both a payment gateway and a merchant account in just one-click. I instantly recognized the potential to do something similar for Insurance, a kind of “Insurance-As-A-Service” solution enabling any digital business to embed insurance or cross-sell insurance at the right touch point.
Jean-Charles, who stayed in Asia after his MBA, clearly saw the potential of this concept, especially through applications such as WeChat.
We created Qover on March 31st, 2016. Within 15 days, we raised 1.5 million euros with best in-class Belgian business angels. Here we are today, four years later, with a total fundraising of 15 million euro and almost 45 employees in 3 different countries and with a bright future ahead of us.
How does your company innovate?
Quentin Colmant : We have a unique pan-European business model that provides “Insurance-As-A-Service”. It means that any digital business can seamlessly integrate our solution either to protect their community or customers through an embedded insurance solution, or connect their platforms to our solution and start selling insurance to their customer base. For the integration part, we provide both an OPEN API infrastructure and a white-label solution that can be configured in a couple of clicks and enables anyone to sell insurance on the spot with their own branding.
Qover is a Managing General Agent (MGA) which means that in addition to providing the technology, we also provide the full insurance solution, from the product and the risk capacity to the customer service and the claim management. As an MGA, we have received a delegation of authority from several major insurance and reinsurance companies such as the Lloyd’s of London, Munich Re, AXA, La Parisienne Assurance, NN, Baloise, etc.
Today, we insure all Deliveroo riders in Europe and in the UK. At the moment the riders switch-on their APP, they are instantly covered by our insurance. We also partner with COWBOY, a rising bike start-up for which we’ve embedded our insurance into their platform so that they upsell insurance whenever they sell a e-bike.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Quentin Colmant : Instead of being ultra-focus on one single product and one single vertical, we’ve immediately decided to build a very sophisticated pan-European insurance solution serving several line of products (Mobility, Property, Bike, Travel, Gig Economy, etc.) and several type of distribution channels.
It has been a tough ride to set this up because we are active in 11 countries with several products. One might consider that it is too much and barely manageable for a start-up …
The reality today is that this diversification strategy is paying off, and we have had a kind of natural hedge in our portfolio: some sales collapsed (such as Travel insurance obviously), while other products overperformed (Bike, Property, Gig Economy).
So, I guess we are one of the few lucky players that continue to grow and hire during the crisis.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Quentin Colmant : We didn’t have to make difficult choices to offset the effect of the pandemic.
So far, the most difficult choices that I had to make (and not linked to Covid-19) was to fire people for a lack of performance, despite I really appreciated them and they perfectly fitted with our culture.
A start-up is, first of all, a “human journey” with all staff being entrepreneurs in a similar way. Living this roller coaster ride with all these people creates unique and authentic relationships. So, when you have to take the call, and personally announce them your decision, it is never an easy one. But what I’ve learned is that you should never hesitate to do such call and you can do it in a way that you are supportive in helping them find a new challenge. Always take the high-road, even with your enemies.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future ?
Quentin Colmant : To deal with stress and anxiety, I’ve dropped my car and I only come to work on a non-electric bike. 32 km every day, for sure it helps release the stress 😊
I am not is naturally subject to stress. i think it’s all about resilience. And believe me, when you are an entrepreneur, you should be ready to be punched and resist! One of my best friends told me the following: it takes 6 to 8 years to build a real company. We’ve already racked up 4 years, and looking at our past success, the future can only be even brighter.
For the future, I clearly see the continuation of our expansion at a faster pace. We also want to keep our focus on being a great human and respectful employer. In addition, we also aspire to serve this new world with new mobility insurance and ever greener insurance products. This goes hand in hand with massive investment in our technology.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Quentin Colmant : In general, we compete with traditional insurance companies. However, our competitive advantages are the following:
- We can serve from one location (Brussels, i.e. our HQ) 32 countries across Europe in just a couple of days.
- We are digital native and have built a unique infrastructure of OPEN API and White-Label solution to embed or cross-sell insurance
- We have a unique customer service approach with customer satisfaction constantly above 90% since day one.
- We are unique, and already very well diversified
- We get s*it done!
Your final thoughts
Quentin Colmant : Life is a marathon, not a sprint! Drop your car and take a bike! It will improve your health condition to win this marathon.