Founder Insights: A Question and Answer with Digital Fineprint’s Erik Abrahamsson and reporter Berenice Caballero
01 Aug 18 Tags: capital raise Expansion market entry profitable social Data AI Insurtech City: London Country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Region: Europe Open: PDF

By: Berenice Caballero

Abrahamsson is Digital Fineprint’s CEO and founder. The company was started in February 2016, while Abrahamsson was a graduate student at Oxford, and the company later moved its headquarters from Oxford to London. Digital Fineprint uses machine learning to comb open data sources for insights used by both insurers and small businesses for evaluating risk. The startup grew from 5 to 20 employees in the last twelve months and has been profitable since Q3 2017.  

In the Q&A, Abrahamsson discusses his own journey to becoming an insurtech entrepreneur. He also outlines Digital Fineprint’s plans for expansion, including new market entry and a possible future series A raise. The questions and answers have been edited and condensed to fit an article format.

How big an opportunity exists for insurers to use social media for insight?

 

There are opportunities for insurers not only from social media but open data overall. A range of data available online including reviews, government materials, facts and statistics, social posts and data from websites of individual companies can be collected, processed and analyzed in real time. Combined with an insurers internal data, it is possible to provide small businesses with a complete risk profile. This opens up a more cost-effective channel directly to decision makers in SMEs.

I have heard you are already profitable? This is pretty rare for a young startup.

Yes, we are proud of what our team has accomplished. We have won several industry awards, were recognized in 2018 as a top 100 insurtech company and are working with leading insurers. We are now in a strong position to use our positive cash flow to expand. We have predictable, recurring revenue and have the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell thanks to our land-and-expand strategy. We became profitable in Q3 2017, which proved our model could work on a smaller scale. Since then, we have received capital from institutional investors to scale.

What are some key company goals for this year?

We are expanding our team, technology, customers and partnerships. Already, the team has grown from five a year ago to 20 today. We are adding new customers and entering new markets (for example Germany through the Plug and Play partnership program). Our product has already indexed over 6 million UK companies, along with relevant risk factors. On all fronts, revenue, product, team, and traction, we are moving forward at a rapid pace, which is really exciting!

Can you talk about Reckon and the value that platform offers insurers?

Reckon was part of V1. Now we are building V2 with a focus on SME insurance distribution. We are creating an end-to-end solution that provides actionable insights for discovering commercial risks for insurers and SMEs. We use open data and AI to create a complete profile of the customer’s needs, and then provide those customers with customized recommendations, so they don’t have to spend hours online to find a policy. Our approach focuses on the customer journey and on helping insurers engage with SME’s. This in turn improves distribution and underwriting in the SME space.

How are you leveraging AI?

Our datasets are massive which makes using machine learning (one example of AI) an imperative. There is simply no other way to perform the analysis. We leverage both internal data from insurance companies and more than 50 sources of open data to create actionable insights. After doing this analysis, machine learning is used to build predictive models for risk and product need. The results help us match customers with the right policies at the right time. This ultimately helps small businesses get the best coverage, which is the guiding reason we are in business.

Are you considering additional funding?

Investors are reaching out virtually every week, which is a testament to our traction and the quality of the technology our team created. But since we raised seed funding in January, it’s still too early to start advanced discussions. At our current growth rates, we will probably raise a Series A investment before long, which will be used to expand hiring, sales and marketing and for entering new markets (especially the US).

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a farm boy from Sweden who has been lucky enough to take part in a never-ending international adventure, that I get to live anew every day. From the farm,   my journey took me to King’s College. Then I worked in finance in Switzerland and later at Twitter in Singapore.  I have learned a lot and have worked with incredible people along the way.  After working at Twitter, I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to Oxford to pursue a master’s degree.  Because of the scholarship, I was able to save money that I would have otherwise needed for tuition, which gave me the flexibility to pursue my startup idea. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy long distance running and exploring nature. So, the saying that “running a startup is a marathon, not a sprint” definitely resonates with me. I’m also a huge fan of improv comedy and have even signed up for performance classes, to my colleague’s great horror!

What has it been like to be an insurtech founder?

It’s been challenging and exciting. It’s exhilarating because I get to “build my dream” every day. That in turn is combined with the challenge of being externally facing and finding partners, investors, team members and others to transform the company from an idea to a fully formed business. I have an outstanding team; helpful investors and I am grateful to the many people who have served as mentors to me. Just a few of those people are Sam Evans from Eos Venture Partners, Nick Martin, Shailesh Rao, Andy Homer, Amit Gupta. 

Do you think that some part of your life has been fulfilled by starting Digital Fineprint?

Everyone has a longing to “create”, whether it is through art, music or some other creative pursuit. For me, entrepreneurship has been the ultimate form of creativity, because it means starting with nothing and working to create something amazing. Seeing the company grow and expand is incredibly fulfilling. More importantly, it’s given me the opportunity to work with some amazing, extraordinarily bright people.