"I believed in Laka so much, that I decided to reinvest my earnings into the company. My hate for insurance companies had turned into a love for Laka”
It started with a coffee (actually a hot chocolate, I never did get used to drinking coffee). Catching up with an old colleague from Barclays. Out of the sea of superstars in the FIG team at Barclays, Tobi was one of the good ones – solid, trustworthy, reliable, and wicked smaaart.
I had heard he started his own business, so sure, it would be great to catch up and hear how things were going.
When we met at the coffee shop near the Rainmaking Loft by Tower Bridge, he started off by saying he had started his own InsureTech company. Oh really? (Feign smile.) How exciting! (Ugh, I am happy to catch up with Tobi, and it is exciting that he has started his own company, but I was dreading hearing the details of a new insurance company).
Now to understand my reaction, you need to understand that I view insurance as a necessary evil. Necessary – something I need to buy to protect myself against the big, “what if” scenario, but evil – whenever something does happen the paperwork will be painful and my claim may or may not be accepted. Am I ready to hear all about this new insurance company over our coffee? Hang in there Claire – there is a beautiful view of the harbour and you haven’t seen Tobi in awhile, you can get through this.
Tobi begins by telling me that everyone hates insurance companies. The interests of the consumer are not aligned with the seller as insurance companies are incentivised to reject claims. Now I know I don’t have a poker face, but did he just read my mind? Was my reaction that obvious?
He went on to say, “What if we could flip insurance on its head? We get paid when we settle claims. Bring insurance back to its roots and help customers when they need it.” Hmm…ok, now I’m curious.
Over the course of the next hour, Tobi told me all about Laka. How he came up with the idea from working on M&A Insurance transactions, and how far he has come in the few months since he left Barclays and launched the idea. I couldn’t believe it, I was genuinely interested. Captivated actually.
“So, do you want to come work with us?” Tobi asked.
“What? Whoa…maybe, but wait, I’m moving to Norway this summer.” I said.
“Really? Norway? Hmmm, well do you want to work with us until you move?” Tobi asked.
“Let me think about it.” I said
And think about it I did. So much so, that half way through Saturday I realised that I hadn’t stopped thinking about it. I had so many ideas…ok, this had to be a sign. Even though we were getting ready to move, I couldn’t resist – I had to give it a try and start working at Laka.
I rang up Tobi on Monday.
“Ok, I’m hooked. Count me in.” I said.
“Great! When can you start?” Tobi asked.
“How about Wednesday?”
“Perfect. See you then.”
And just like that, my Laka experience began. What a ride it was. Coming from a background of working at large institutions, Laka was my introduction to the startup world.
How things have changed. No more Canary Wharf. Now it was all about hunting for cheap office space.
And the Startup community – what a network! Everyone helping each other. It was us vs. the Big Dogs. And the Big Dogs better watch out, because there is some serious disruption heading your way…
The excitement – this is the best idea ever! We are going to revolutionize the insurance industry! The worry – will the FCA grant us the license we need? Do we need to revise our Business Model?
The roller coaster of emotions had begun.
And the team…what a team! Jens with his creative mind, challenging the norm and making our visions a reality. Ben, the wise voice of reason asking the right questions, subtly helping each one of us navigate our roles and somehow knowing a fair bit about everything. Jack, our IT prodigy, busting out code like nobody’s business and turning around a promotional video overnight. And of course, Tobi with his non-stop meetings with investors and potential partners, while at the same time carefully building the culture of our team. As I looked around our Table at the Rainmaking Loft, I thought to myself – we are solid.
So solid, in fact, that as my time with the team started to come to an end, and as the move to Norway crept closer, I started to think about how truly great we were. In the sea of startups, ours really had potential.
Having seen all the nuts and bolts of the business, and working with the team through ups and downs, I felt more convinced than ever that we would be a success.
I believed in Laka so much, that I decided to reinvest my earnings into the company. My hate for insurance companies had turned into a love for Laka.
When I moved to Norway, I also moved from being part of the team to being an investor. I needed to stay connected. Now I look forward to my receiving my Investor Update emails from Tobi. The speed at which Laka is developing is incredible.
I am so glad I agreed to that cup of coffee…