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When Louise isn’t running a multi-million pound Insurtech, you can find her growing veggies in the garden. Or better yet… snowboarding.
With an impressive career history spanning from RAC Insurance to Head of Pricing at Sainsbury’s, Louise knows a thing or two about building companies that do the right thing.
She began Pikl after travelling frequently and staying at Airbnb’s. The sharing economy has been increasing rapidly but there’s a lack of protection for people in this space. With her natural entrepreneurial spirit, she took it to herself to change that.
We sat down with Louise to discuss her career so far, how she plans to scale the company and the overall vision for Pikl.
Louise, you established Pikl in 2016. What did your career look like before that?
I have worked in the insurance market my whole career which is almost 20 years now! A fresh faced graduate, I started my career at Aviva (Norwich Union as was) and spent 10 years there working my way up the ladder.
I was the Finance Director for RAC Insurance for 5 years (some of that time was within Aviva and some outside of Aviva). This was an exciting project as we started the RAC Insurance business from scratch within Aviva. It was my first experience of a startup within a big company.
I then worked on the disposal of the RAC to The Carlyle PE group. I met a number of my co-founders on this project and had the experience of working for a few years under PE. It was during this time we decided we wanted to start a business together but were not quite sure what to focus on.
Over the next few years I took on various Head of Pricing roles at large insurers, MGA’s and brokers including Gallagher, Sainsburys and The Coop. It was whilst I was at The Coop that I really started to learn about the sharing economy and started to stay in my first Airbnb’s.
The Coop was a mutual and its main aim was supporting its members, not making profit. This way of doing things was a real eye opener for me. It helped me to understand the importance of doing the right thing by customers and where so much of the insurance market was getting this wrong. This set us on the path to creating Pikl.
What is Pikl?
Pikl is an Insurtech providing insurance solutions for the fast growing sharing economy market like Home Sharing on Airbnb and Shared mobility on platforms like Hiyacar and Getaround.
When and how did you realise that there was a market (those participating in the sharing economy) being underserved?
Whilst I was working at Coop, I was travelling a lot and staying in Airbnb’s. It occurred to me that people letting their homes on Airbnb were not properly insured. This is because short term commercial use of your home such as Airbnb was forbidden by Home Insurers.
This is when I began researching the sharing economy and realised that there was a massive and growing gap in the market for insurance solutions. It needed both new insurance products to be developed but also significant digital technology enhancement.
What does your competitive landscape look like and how does Pikl differentiate itself?
Pikl has no direct competitors for the majority of its TAMs. There are a couple of start-ups which work in adjacent niches in the shared mobility market place and with property managers in the Airbnb market place. But there’s no one directly competing with the products, technology and TAM as Pikl.
Pikl is differentiated from incumbents in the marketplace by using the combination of new digital technology and deep insurance expertise to provide solutions that both prevent as well as protect against risk when sharing assets like homes or cars.
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
- Securing A rated underwriting capacity deals across our product lines
- Winning key long term distribution partnerships with household names – price comparison websites like Go Compare and more in the pipeline that we will be able to announce in April
- Raising £5m to date in seed funds with lead investor Sir Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line and Esure
How do you plan to create a scalable and profitable business model?
Our business has been developed to be very scalable from a technology perspective where everything is built in the cloud. We also have underwriting capacity deals with large insurers which are able to scale as far as we need.
Our business is already showing profitability, with a monthly gross profit before fixed expenses. It’s now a question of scaling the business to exceed our fixed costs and beyond. The significant distribution partnerships we have with people like the price comparison websites will enable us to achieve this.
What do you plan to do with the money you raise?
The majority of the funding (56%) will go to our team. After all, they are who develop our technology and our insurance products. This will allow us to significantly expand our team across two areas:
- Engineering to enable launches with new partners, continued development of guest verification/risk management services and the launch of our shared mobility products
- Business Development to support partner management and sales capacity.
20% will be spent on technology, technical insurance, regulatory and legal costs. The final 24% will be spent on sales and marketing which includes various paid media initiatives, events and marketing assets.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I love to spend time with my family and friends! Particularly after the last few years with Covid, it’s really helped me understand the importance of this.
I love playing with my two nauty little cats (Pickle and Lilly – can you guess where Pikl came from?!). Growing vegetables is something I enjoy too – I grew up in the potting shed as my family owned a garden centre through my childhood.
Although I am not particularly elegant at it, I am a keen snowboarder. I also love going for long walks in the countryside, boating on the Norfolk Broads and I really enjoy singing.
If you weren’t building Pikl, what do you think you’d be doing?
I think I was always destined to start my own business, probably due to watching my parents build their own business. My Mum founded a charity called Keeping Abreast for women considering reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, something she was affected by.
I was very bright at mathematics and I like helping people – so Insurance is actually a very natural choice.
However, if I hadn’t gone down the insurance path, I may have gone into the family businesses with my parents at the garden centre or with the charity.
Or I might have gone professional with my singing. I have been involved in a number of choirs and I have even sung in St Mark’s cathedral in Venice.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far building Pikl?
When I started Pikl, I never envisaged I would be starting a business within a global pandemic.
The biggest lessons I have learned have been resilience, both my own and building team resilience. Self determination is also key. Having a great set of mentors and supporters around you too. I am so fortunate to have that in our angel investors.
This is why I can only see positives in expanding our investor community and support base via our Crowdfund.
Pikl has truly found an untapped market with so much potential to grow. To watch the pitch and invest in Pikl, visit the campaign here.