The digital revolution has made it much easier and cheaper to bring a new customer offer to live, spin it off into a separate business and grow it internationally quickly. Entrepreneurship is the most exciting work opportunity for a lot of people. It is even more interesting for employees with experience, deep insights into an industry, and passion to meet the challenges of the future.
According to research, 70% of founders got their idea in their former job, but could not implement it within the corporate environment. Allianz X has therefore created an “intrapreneurship” program for Allianz employees to enable them to found “within the Allianz network”. We want to combine corporate expertise and market knowledge with a founder’s spirit and agile personality to discover and create the next big thing in insurance. Oliver Gätgens from Allianz Deutchland and Niklas Bürger from metafinanz recently started an intrapreneurship at Allianz X. We asked them about their first steps on the way to founding a new Allianz company:
When did you first consider switching from corporate employee to startup “intrapreneur”?
Oliver: While working on our business topic at the Allianz X Acceleration days earlier this year , we were asked, what we thought made a good entrepreneur. Well, as my great-grandfather used to say to me in German: “Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es!“ (Nothing good will happen until someone does it). Remembering that advice, I decided to commit 100%.
Niklas: During the early stages of concept development I was not sure how successful we would be. But when our team won the first prize at the Acceleration Days, everything accelerated so quickly there was no time to think about what might happen. What counted was making a start.
What motivated you to switch to intrapreneurship?
Niklas: A couple of years ago, when I first started in the insurance business I saw very quickly that there was huge potential for innovation across the whole sector. And now I see my personal chance to contribute to it.
Oliver: It may sound weird to non-Allianz employees, but our corporate culture is based also on the fact that we see ourselves as a family or tanker. This is my chance to influence the course we take a bit so that we stay in business for at least another 125 years.
How did your friends and colleagues react?
Oliver: Positive. Previously, I worked as a project lead at the data center consolidation project (“DCC”). For the last two Years, I coordinated the migration activities for shared services in Germany and, partly, in the US. Right now, we are migrating SAP. So leaving my own project, where a lot of my time, involvement and effort were invested, was hard. It did help that my team lead, Bernhard, my head of department,Brigitte, and my project head, Lothar, supported me so much. The support was overwhelming.
Pls. describe your project briefly. Which problem will it solve for customers?
Niklas: Nowadays, people do not want to hassle around with complicated contracts or adhere to something longer than necessary. Additionally, simplicity and transparency is key for future products. Our idea is a digital safe for your most valuable things. It is financial protection you buy and use it flexible for the valuables you want to have covered. You simply add items to your safe. And it is financially protected as long as it is in there. You could also say, it is the first cloud solution for physical goods.
Oliver: Exactly. Whenever I presented the idea, I opened with the question: Who has household insurance? Nearly all hands went up. I then asked if anyone knew exactly what their insurance covered and most of their hands went down. Why not make it simple?, I asked myself. A digital safe that protects all items that are relevant to what is happening in my life right now seemed like a great idea, because we look for products that fit into our lives rather than try and fit our lives into a product, right?
What is your personal goal with the product?
Niklas: Insurance products haven’t changed in years – but people have. If you combine the will to change something and creativity and add the technological possibilities we do have today, there is huge potential for getting back to the core needs of customers and to offer them a new approach to meeting their demand.
Oliver: The product should be loved by our customers. I work with passion and reading comments in the app store, about how our product solved someone’s issue, would make me smile, honestly.
What does your work package and company building program entail over the next three months?
Niklas: Basically, we need to test our idea. In the first instance this means that we will do user interviews to find out more about what prospective customers need. Secondly, we will create a mockup to see how well prospects respond to the idea and, of course, we must also check if the idea is functionally achievable from a business perspective.
Oliver: Understanding our customers means talking to them. Based on user research results, we create different “customer journeys” and offer a solution for pain points. As Niklas said, we will test these journeys (“hypothesis”) and see if we’ve found a valid solution. We work with the digital experts from Allianz X in predefined weekly sprints to move from idea to solution in only 6 weeks, then do a few loops of testing, learning and adapting. And will have achieved our objective in three months. And hopefully we will then have a model that customers love and will be spun-off and funded by Allianz X.
What happens if your startup does not perform?
Oliver: The problem is still valid IMHO, so if we don’t find a cloud based insurance solution, others will. This means failing is not an option, even is if is theoretically possible.
Niklas: An important question: First of all, I think it is vital to stay realistic. Don’t daydream. Embrace unexpected change. Also, I think you should not stick to your idea if it turns out not to perform. You will learn a lot which will help you to create even better ideas in the future. With that mindset, whatever happens, you will always win.
What is your vision? What will you have achieved in 5 years
Niklas: What drives us most: We think that the whole insurance industry is undergoing not only a digital transition. Insurance companies will transform into lifestyle companies!
Oliver: We would like to be part of this change with our startup and ideas and spin-off a new Allianz company. We want to hire great minds and experts to join us on this journey – in the coming 5 months, not 5 years!
Testing your entrepreneurial DNA is easy: Sign up at our at our upcoming acceleration days on Nov. 24. – 26. In Munich right here.
For more information watch our video.