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This week we caught up with Gustav Holst Stuge, the CEO of InMyBag. Gustav is a London based Norwegian technology entrepreneur and Forbes 30 under 30 in Technology finalist. Gustav joined InMyBag as CEO of in August 2017, leading the UK based InsurTech startup to it’s latest round on Seedrs.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have always been interested in running my own business, so I started my career founding my own company in Mexico when I was very young. Following that experience, I came to London to do an MBA at London Business School. Subsequently, I moved into the corporate world working for Google on a number of small insurance and finance companies, specialising in business development and mobile. Following a few years there, I joined InMobi, a Softbank and Kleiner Perkins funded mobile ad tech startup with over $250m in venture funding, running European business development.
In the last few years I have co-founded Playcake Games and Franck Energy, both early-stage ventures in the mobile gaming and renewable energy space respectively. Franck Energy was sold in December 2017 to Smart Renewable Heat. I am also an independent advisor to hedge fund and private equity firms investing in technology.
How did InMyBag come onto your radar and what made you join?
After leaving Google, I spent a chaotic year trying to turn a business around, I was also simultaneously working on turning around other businesses, but as an independent consultant, alongside my existing ventures, Playcake Games and Franck. After six months the business I was helping became profitable and on it’s way to an exit, we then got an offer on Franck energy, so suddenly I had a lot of time of my hands. In the midst of this, the original investors of InMyBag came along with a product with an existing FCA license, an amazing chairman, and an opportunity to commercialise an exciting new business, so as these things sometimes do, everything fell into place.
What has been the highlight at InMyBag so far?
As I tell my team, at our early-stage we get lots of little wins, so we have to take and enjoy those and not to worry too much about the (inevitable) losses. Hopefully when we close this round that will be a big one!
Since September we really started pushing our commercial distribution partnership, and within three months we’ve realised that we can genuinely have a multi-million pound business on our hands just with that platform. So to me the moment I realised that InMyBag wasn’t just an interesting project, but a company that has the potential to become seriously valuable was a real highlight.
How are you preparing for the full launch of InMyBag?
Finalising the team is my first priority, and then it falls into two categories; deals and development.
We will soon be closing a lot of the amazing partnerships we currently have on the table. Our team is putting a lot of structure around those deals and getting them closed, like the recent Bud partnership. We’re also going out to find new partners, and building a new commercial pipeline.
In regards to the development side, when I first started my dream was to add two things to the tech element of the business; the first was a smart way of heat-mapping screens so if you have a broken screen we can tell, which completely eradicates screen fraud. And the second was to automate the back end to be able to handle hundreds of claims with a very small team. Now both of those things are coming to fruition because we have both partners ready to go.
What’s the problem InMyBag is trying to solve, and why does it need solving?
The best example to explain this is actually the team that made our Seedrs campaign video; they rent their equipment and after filming all the footage goes onto one laptop. If that laptop breaks, all parties have a big problem. However, if they were customers of InMyBag with their data being continuously updated and backed up, as well the ability to get hold of a new laptop that day, then that would save their business.
There are huge pockets of people that rely on their technology, particularly laptops, due to the growing number of freelance and mobile/remote workers, and we are tapping into that market to help them.
What’s InMyBag’s edge over the competition?
If you look at some of the big household name insurers, they don’t even include theft or screen breakages, so with all of these caveats, the point of having insurance decreases. The reality of what a big bank or insurer can do, and what it really gets done is totally different.
InMyBag, on the other hand, insures everything that relates to your devices, and we do it swiftly so people can genuinely get back to work as soon as possible. There might come a day when an incumbent wants, and is able, to do the same as us, but by then we will be an established brand and it will be too late.
You have worked at one of the biggest corporations in the world and also with really early stage startups – do you have a preference?
I think it comes down to personality. Google was fantastic and a lot of fun, but if you want to go and create something of your own, then the latter is definitely more exciting. Even the very high-pressure risky moments are offset by the fact that it’s yours and you get to make those decisions.
There are definitely days when I miss it, but once you get going and experience making your own decisions you get addicted to it and I can’t imagine going back now.
What advice would you give people who are eager to set up their own business?
I would say that you have to be a bit of a masochist! You do put yourself through hell with very low probabilities that it’s going to work out; no normal person would do that!
I would also say that there will be many times that you think you’re on the wrong path, but then you will get a bit lucky. So you just have to put yourself in enough positions to get that bit lucky and then something will work out. As I said, it’s the little wins.
Why are you raising capital through crowdfunding?
We are a B2B business, with a very important B2C part, so it’s important for us to use our brand to get people excited. However, getting people excited about insurance can be very difficult, and no one has managed to do that yet. So what I want is a few hundred people who have a stake in InMyBag who contribute to our development and ideas and are real brand evangelists. This is typically a very difficult thing to do when just starting out, so we thought that crowdfunding was the best way to achieve this.
Where would you like to see InMyBag in a year’s time?
We have a genuine opportunity to break even within the next 12 months, so that is the big milestone we’re working towards. The aim is to break even so we can get to a point where we can start progressing with global expansion.
If you’d like to ask Gustav your own questions, you can do so via the discussion forum on the campaign page, where you can also find out more about how InMyBag will be bringing their product to market. InMyBags’ campaign is due to remain open until early-March.
Investing in startups involves risks, including loss of capital, illiquidity, lack of dividends and dilution, and it should be done only as part of a diversified portfolio. This blog post has been approved as a financial promotion by Seedrs Limited.