Wet talked to Ruth Haller, founder of Anapi, about business insurance, and this is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ruth Haller: My family and I are all well, thank you. We’ve adjusted pretty well to the new normal. Some days are nevertheless frustrating, especially when you live far away from family, so you can’t hop on a plane to visit them. However, oddly enough, we seem even more connected through FaceTime and Zoom than we normally would, so that’s definitely a good thing.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Anapi.
Ruth Haller: I started my career in the insurance industry and worked for a large global insurer for ten years. I had worked in many different functions of the company and spent the latter half of my career in the Enterprise Risk Function, where I got a great overview of how the whole insurance company was run. However, after a few years, I felt that I was far too removed from the frontline business. I ended up doing an MBA, and after that, I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. I was living in Hong Kong at the time and had a friend who was baking amazing cookies and wanted to start selling them but didn’t know where to begin. So I partnered with her to start a company called Sugar Sisters, where we sold cookies online and through cafes. That experience further ignited the entrepreneurial spirit in me, and shortly after moving to Singapore a couple of years later, I went back to my insurance roots and co-founded Anapi to take the hassle and pain out of insurance for small businesses and startups.
How does Anapi innovate?
Ruth Haller: Anapi is focused on small businesses and startups. We make it easy for them to understand their risks and save them time and money in getting insurance. Insurance policies, especially business insurance policies, are complicated legal documents. Most of the time, business owners have no idea what they are covered for and for how much. Instead of having to call up their broker each time they have a question, Anapi digitizes the policies to provide a quick overview of all the key insurance information in one glance. We also partner with forward-thinking insurers to offer coverage on the spot for certain business insurance policies, such as for Cyber and Directors & Officers insurance, the first in the Singapore market.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Ruth Haller: We became a licensed corporate insurance agent in Singapore in 2020 to add selling insurance policies as another service offering complementary to the software that we offer. This has provided us with a steady income. We saw this as an opportunity to go after as COVID-19 accelerated the need for digitization, especially in the area of purchasing insurance. Businesses were no longer able to meet directly with their insurance agents and brokers during the Circuit Breaker lockdown in Singapore, so it just made total sense for us to pursue this path as the mindsets of business owners were changing, and they have become more open to buying business insurance directly online.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Ruth Haller: Yes, unfortunately, we had to downsize our team in 2020. It was a difficult decision to ensure the viability and longevity of the company during a year of much uncertainty. The team was understanding given the situation we were faced with, and luckily they were all able to move onto new roles very quickly. Whilst we may not work together anymore, I still cherish the friendships that we developed during our working time together and appreciate the genuine interest they have in the success of Anapi.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Ruth Haller: A large part of our client base is startups who don’t fully understand the risks they take on. They are very focused on finding product-market fit, scaling their business, and so forth. We have taken on the role of educating founders on the potential curveballs that might come the way that will not only prevent growth but potentially prevent them from continuing business. Thanks to Zoom, Google Meets and other video conferencing software, we have been able to partner with Accelerators, VCs, and Coworking Spaces to host webinars to provide this risk advisory and education service to our clients during this restrictive period. We also use LinkedIn and our company blog to publish articles related to risk management and topics that business owners should look out for.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Ruth Haller: The Singapore government has been extremely helpful to small businesses. They have provided some relief for salary payments which has helped us extend our runway.
Your final thoughts?
Ruth Haller: Businesses are so used to doing their banking, accounting, and other business processes online, so it only makes sense that business insurance is also brought online. I’m glad in a way that the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital processes and opened the eyes of insurers that they need to partner with insurtechs such as Anapi to help them digitize their processes. It definitely makes the conversations easier with insurers.
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