Riding Unicorns

S3E4 - Steven Mendel, Co-Founder & CEO @ ManyPets

December 22, 2021 Riding Unicorns Season 3 Episode 4
Riding Unicorns
S3E4 - Steven Mendel, Co-Founder & CEO @ ManyPets
Show Notes Transcript

Steven Mendel is the co-founder of ManyPets (prev. Bought By Many), the insurance provider that is revolutionising the way consumers purchase pet coverage. Rather interestingly the idea for the company came as a result of Stevens own rather disappointing personal experience when trying to buy private medical insurance for him and his familys. Like any good entrepreneur Steven took it upon himself to try and improve the customer experience, which going by the amount of awards the company has won, he seems to have done rather successfully. 

 The McKinsey alumni sat down with James & Hector to discuss several topics including why a high employee retention continues to play an important role in the success of the company, his opinion on the importance or lack thereof of company valuation and how his expectations differ from the present day business reality.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to Riding Unicorns, the podcast about growth startups. I'm James Pringle, and I'm a technology entrepreneur and investor and the founder of Pringle capital. My co-host is Hector Mason from episode one ventures for season three, we are sitting down with some of the most successful founders to better understand what entrepreneurship means to them. The operational processes they have employed on their startup journey and what lessons they've learned along the way.

[00:00:36] Today's episode is with Steven Mendel CEO, and co-founder at bought by many. Bought by many is the UK is leading pet wellness brand. They predominantly focus on insurance and they are a unicorn they've been named pet insurance provider of the year in 2021. So let's find out how Steven built the company.


[00:00:56] James: [00:01:00] Hi Steven. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm riding unicorns.

[00:01:05] Steven: Very nice to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

[00:01:07] James: It's our pleasure. So Stephen for season three, we're having exclusively founders and. So we're starting with the same question to everyone, which is what does entrepreneurship mean to you?

[00:01:21] Steven: I've never been asked this question before. And it's actually not a word that I use myself very often if ever. so I prefer to think about leadership rather than entrepreneurship. and I think that having. A very strong sense of followership is, critical to being a successful leader. Leaders I think should lead, but they need others who respect that leadership and are keen to follow that leadership, to be a great leader.

[00:01:48] I think you've got to be optimistic and at the same time have a very heavy dose of realism. I think you've got to be a strong communicator so that others can understand your vision and your aspiration. [00:02:00] I think that you've got to be bold. I think that's the idea of trying to do something.

[00:02:05] Different and distinctive is a critical part of making a change. and therefore being out there, having guts and being prepared to make a change and to do something distinctive is a critical part of that. So I don't know whether that's a considered answer or just a kind of off the cuff answer, but, that's certainly how I think.

[00:02:24] Hector: That's a great answer. There's certainly no right or wrong. And it's been great hearing the different founders, responses to, so obviously you're now a founder of an enormously successful, business. but you haven't always being a founder and you've, been through various different stages of your career.

[00:02:38] I wonder where the, your motivation for whichever step of your career you were in has, remained the same, or whether, the things driving you at those different stages of your career have changed.

[00:02:51] Steven: So, this is the first time I've been a founder, but it's not the first time I've set up a business.

[00:02:56] In fact, actually it's, I think it's my fourth time. So the [00:03:00] previous fifth time, even previous four were all what are now called intrepreneurs ships, starting things for existing businesses from the inside. and actually my motivations have not changed. I think it's critically important for every single person to enjoy what they do.

[00:03:17] I'm not saying that you need to enjoy it to every single minute of every single day. I think that's probably unrealistic. but I am hoping that people do really feel it's important to be able to get out of bed on a Monday morning with some sense of a spring in your step and not a sense of dread and that's always been true for me.

[00:03:35] and whenever that stops being true, I always think it's time to go do something else and delightfully, despite the fact that bought by many years, amazingly nine years old, that still very much remains true.

[00:03:45] James: Yeah, I think, uh, was on season one and he said, it is that getting up in the morning with purpose, which is one of the best things about being a entrepreneur.

[00:03:56] So, you were in banking. So where did the idea to [00:04:00] start a pet insurance company come from and where should founders find inspiration for that business?

[00:04:08] Steven: So I think you can find inspiration from anywhere and, the thing that you get up to, and just to be clear, I didn't have inspiration to start a pet insurance business, but I did have a desire to change the way that insurance was.

[00:04:21] the background is, relatively simple, but it takes a few minutes to explain. I had been for many years troubled, by the way, in which financial services companies took advantage of individuals in a way that they did not take advantage of other corporate. of which there are many, many examples, good ones are term life assurance where to buy covers an individual is much more expensive, like for like, than it is to be a part of a group scheme.

[00:04:46] some of that's about admin, a risk, but not all of it. borrowing lending rates are completely different. Mortgage rates are different. Unit trust pricing is completely different. I am. My own specific example was in the health insurance [00:05:00] space. So, my last corporate job was as head of wealth management at close brothers.

[00:05:06] It was a business that I had built from scratch and, the final example of entrepreneurship. And as I was getting ready to leave, I was a good leaver. It was on the very, agreed terms. I rang up the healthcare provider. Close scheme and said to them, next week I'm leaving. I want to take over the private health care provision for myself and my family.

[00:05:25] exactly the same cover please, and same people, but I'll be paying for it myself and corporates. And how much will that be? And they say, well, nobody's ever asked that before, or we need to go away and think about. Now I knew how much close was paying for it because it was on my PLF and D whilst I was expecting a price that was higher than the corporate rate, I was completely unprepared for the answers.

[00:05:48] Come back to find that it was actually no less than four times, the price, this being yet another example of corporate financial services, corporate is taking advantage of individually. and [00:06:00] out of that came this idea that it was time to redress the balance. it was time to help individuals to get access to better insurance than they could do on their own.

[00:06:11] And so version one of bought by many was that we created communities of individuals who had similar, but niche insurance needs and help them to get access to better insurance. Better. We defined as something about price, something about product design and something about customer experience. And at its peak that business had over 330 different communities had over a million different members.

[00:06:39] We refer to people as members, you joined as a specific community, and it was a digital broker. What is now called a digital broker, but we call it an introducer where it introduced to 31 different insurers, a different one for each. and what we found was that despite our ability to get a better price for every single community than those [00:07:00] individuals could have gotten their own, we only sometimes could get better product but we could never, ever get better experience.

[00:07:08] so we felt like we were falling short on our commitment, our promise to these members to improve insurance on these three domains. and so over a series of changes over 2015 and 2016, we went from being an introducer to being an insurance provider. and we started with pet insurance. It was, we didn't set out to only do pet insurance.

[00:07:30] We ranked all of our communities in terms of customer engagement and, the communities with the highest level of customer engagement were pet, then came niche, travel insurance then came small business and then. And this was going to be our product roadmap strategy. We were very happy to work our way through all of those.

[00:07:49] so that's what we did. We started with pat in February, 2017. We did niche travel in January, 2018. We did small business in an April of 2018, and we got to the end of 2018. [00:08:00] And actually the pet stuff had just grown, like out of all control. We were still only a small business at the time. And whilst the nice travel and the small business was doing well, it was not doing nothing like as outstandingly as the pet was.

[00:08:13] And so we took the very hard decision to shut down the latter two pieces and to focus exclusively in the pet space. And hence you think about us as a pet pincher, but that's certainly not how we see.

[00:08:25] Hector: I've loved speaking to all of these successful entrepreneurs, because there's a common thread between a lot of them, which is, one of the things that led them to set up businesses that was sort of a, B got under that bonnet about something and this kind of strong sense of justice for, consumers getting a bad deal compared to corporates.

[00:08:43] I think it's really interesting. but going back to. the start of your journey with bought by many and the fundraising journey. And so I'm an investor at episode one, I know that you guys spoke we made a mistake in saying no but no it'd be great to hear kind of your, your journey through your, [00:09:00] through your various fundraisers and whether you had any, any trouble in those early stages.

[00:09:05] Steven: so we were blessed with initially one and then subsequently a further 12 angels who genuinely believed in what we were up to and, and in us as individuals. and so the early part of our fundraising process was very straightforward. and it wasn't until we had a lighted on the pet space that we set out to have, corporate conversation.

[00:09:27] our series a, was in 2016. we haven't launched into pets, but we knew we were going to, and all the changes that I talked about to go from an introduced, to being a provider, we're well, under the. We had very few conversations, and ended up with two term sheets, two very compelling term sheets and picked octopus.

[00:09:47] it was a very straightforward decision and a very easy one. and I'm delighted that octopus remain Malcolm focused and remains. Our longest standing board member, has been on our board now for over five [00:10:00] years and it's a delight to have him around it and it's delight to be supported by experts.

[00:10:04] So that was very straightforward. B was much. and that was largely our mistake. we had, a lighted on a particular lead investor, and had, got very close to signing term sheets, and yet the term sheet kept changing. and that seems really odd to us. Perhaps NIET, and maybe I'll just kind of focus on the business.

[00:10:25] We didn't put enough effort into locking down the term sheet. And when we did get to lock it down, it just looked like it wasn't helpful and it wasn't going to work. and so we started the process again, as we were getting towards the end of what we thought was the right timeframe, we started again from scratch and I liked it on commerce ventures.

[00:10:41] and that was great, but it took us some time to get there. And so B was trying. And then, two years later, 20, 20 time to do series C, we'd said we'd only gonna fundraise every other year that we had no desire to do it more frequently than that term sheet signed.

[00:10:56] Very straightforward. We had loads and loads of it. and then [00:11:00] the pandemic arrived and we had signed term sheets before the pandemic was even known. We've kind of thought of, but the final closing was elusive, trying to do that in April of 2020 as the world, was going to pot and no one had any idea at all, what was going on, was troubling and was trying and was tough.

[00:11:21] That's done. anybody who's, anybody who's spent any time out in parks during the lockdown will know that pet ownership became the thing during lockdown. everyone needs some luck in life and clearly that was ours. and so being a digital provider in a largely analog business, meant that we could really ride the wave of this dramatic global increase in pet ownership.

[00:11:44] And whilst the vast majority of our competitors had to close because they couldn't serve as claims, we remained very much open, and throughout, and, although the decision to send people to work from home was the toughest decision I've ever made in my corporate life. we never skipped. and so we had a [00:12:00] truly amazing period over, locked down.

[00:12:02] and actually, although we weren't due to do a D round, when we did, we started the conversation the beginning of the year, just out of pure interest to see what happened. just the whole thing accelerated way ahead of ourselves. certainly 12 months ahead of where we expected it to be.

[00:12:17] And I can say, although it's slightly awkward and embarrassing to admit it, that we never did a single pitch meeting and we certainly never wrote a single page of a pitch deck. and so it is delightful that, EQT joined us at the time. There are really two. Top drawer, investor really fantastic that they're sitting at that board table and it's been a great outcome for us.

[00:12:36] Not least of which it took very little effort. That's our fundraising story.

[00:12:41] Hector: very, very lucky for me. You guys not to have to get a stack together. That's a rare thing for sure.

[00:12:46] James: And so Steven, in the early stages, you said there was a few angels that supported you and back to you. and they must have been really backing you as an individual, more than anything really.

[00:12:56] So what do you think gives you an edge as a [00:13:00] founder and are there any traits or habits that you have as well that you think help you to be, uh, a good founder of.

[00:13:08] Steven: so I go think it was just me just to be clear. I don't think it, I don't think it's ever been addressed about me. I think it's a bit about the team and we have had a really fantastic team from the outset with tiny, tiny amounts of turnover, which has enabled us to provide consistency and longevity to our investor, supporter base.

[00:13:30] So I think there are a few things have really worked very well for us. the first is to recruit, well and, to hire the right people and then to retain them. I think that really genuinely critically understanding customer need in a, in an insurance world where frankly, nobody takes any efforts and puts any time into understanding customer need and, and yeah.

[00:13:54] The external numbers really explain that much more clearly than I could find the words to. [00:14:00] So our net promoter score has never been below 70. in fact, last month and net promoter score was 80 and that's across all customer touch points, not just sales, but claims complaints, midterm adjustments, cancellations.

[00:14:16] And in fact, last month, our post claims net promoter score was 84. this is unheard of in most, in most categories, but insurance. I mean, literally people couldn't even imagine what that must feel like. and the implication of that is that our lifetime value, the retention rates that we are able to enjoy are off.

[00:14:39] and that gives us huge capability to reinvest in the business. And it becomes a, a very positive cycle where if you can invest a lot in create great customer experiences, people have no reason to think of going anywhere else, let alone to actually do it. And therefore retention rates go up further and you can drive that to that flywheel if you like even harder and [00:15:00] faster.

[00:15:00] and that's exactly what we have. we've invested enormously in the business. We've invested in, things that customers see and experience on a daily basis. We've invested in things that they don't see and don't experience until they need to like in claims. and we've done that, increasingly on a multi-country basis.

[00:15:17] So we launched into Sweden in July of 2019. the most sophisticated country in the world for pet insurance is where pass insurance was invented in the 1890s. and then, earlier on this year in March, we launched into the U S which is a much more fledgling, pet insurance industry and lots and lots to achieve there.

[00:15:34] And, and it's all different, but it's all incredibly exciting. And it all is about getting out of bed on Monday morning with a spring in my step,

[00:15:41] James: it's this question next, but I thought a follow-up to that. You touched on something around, employee retention. Well, you talked about retention on a product and customer basis, which is very, very important. Very important for younger founders and people starting out to, to think about that.

[00:15:58] But from an employee retention [00:16:00] standpoint, I think that's a really interesting thing to hone in on. So what do you think you've done that has helped you to be very good at employee retention and what's this sort of secret sauce that,

[00:16:09] Steven: I think we have any secret sauce anywhere. I know this is incredibly frustrating when I say that, and I've said this to many people over some period of time. And you did ask me, what do I think is my secret? I don't think I have any secrets either. I think that having been round the block a few times definitely helps having made a lot of mistakes in hiring and in M and a, and in other types of transactions definitely helps.

[00:16:32] And having, a perspective that is not just about next week and next month, but it's about next year in the next five years. But specifically to your question, James, about, staff, I think the first thing is it's really important to recruit the right people in the first place.

[00:16:46] because. Individuals may be excited about joining a job, but if they don't fit, they'll very quickly realize that they don't fit them. This is not the place for them. We are a business with a very, very strong set of values. It's a set of values we've had for a very long time [00:17:00] and we recruit against them.

[00:17:01] We incentivize against them. We reward against them. We, we make commercial decisions against them and that's absolutely underlies everything that we. and that has never changed. And I think it's extremely unlikely that it will ever change. and it's very much about what we are and what we're trying to achieve, and that some of that's about, engagement with our colleagues.

[00:17:23] Some of it's about engagement with, third parties and new potential new customers, but some of it's about engagement with ourselves. and one of our values is to beat. and, that's a reflection that's nobody ever changed any industry overnight and certainly not the insurance one.

[00:17:41] So having the ability to have perspective and then to dig in deep and, stay your ground is really important. and we see that in individuals, we don't make short term decisions or anything, and we certainly don't make short term to staffing decisions.

[00:17:56] Hector: Really interesting. That, also is a recurring theme around, the importance of hiring the right [00:18:00] people and everyone's made mistakes, but people seem to learn from those mistakes.

[00:18:04] it might be the case that you've always kind of believed this could be a, a billion pound business, but do you remember any moments where you sort of started to think this, really is now a reality that we're actually on a path to becoming an enormous business?

[00:18:17] Steven: I mean, I've now got a theme here.

[00:18:19] I don't actually think about it this way at all. valuation is largely an output, not an input. It's not a target for us at all. you know, some people say, oh, you know, when are you expecting to be a $5 billion business or a $10 billion? business This is just not how I think about the world at all. We've just ensured our half a millionth pet.

[00:18:40] and I'm much more interested about where the next half a million are gonna come from. I'm much more interested about what countries four and five are. I'm much more interested in about. We've gone away from having the aspiration of becoming the world's leading pet insurer, because we're very much on that agenda and you need to have aspirations that you can have tenacity to achieve.

[00:18:58] so we're now very much on the [00:19:00] agenda becoming the world's leading pet health provider a much broader aspiration for ourselves. and so that's much more about how I think about target setting and, success. and frustratingly, I suspect for investors much less about the actual valuation, the very bottom line number, but yes, I'm happy to play that game wherever it's necessary.

[00:19:20] I just don't think it's really a one that's worth playing.

[00:19:23] Hector: This is a really dumb question, I wonder if you guys get any insurance, so many pats. I wonder if you get any sort of weird insights into PACS, like life expectancies or like. Which perhaps the people didn't show and he just weird insights that you get from the, from your customers.

[00:19:40] Steven: we have very well known for cat and dog insurance, but we also insure pretty much every single other pet you can have except the horse. And, we don't insure horses. I get asked this on a weekly basis. I've got no plans to change that. but it is great to ensure a random selection of pets we did for a long time, have an inflatable crocodile in the office.

[00:19:58] Cause we just insured at [00:20:00] half six crocodile and someone thought this would be a funny thing to do, to recruit as a buyer. And if it was a crocodile, although actually sadly it burns when someone uses a toboggan, during the snow a couple of winters ago, insights, I think the thing that's really been incredibly insightful is to understand what has changed over the last 20 months in the pet space globally.

[00:20:21] pandemic arrived. I've already touched on the increase in pet ownership, which has skyrocketed, what's interesting is that the vast majority of the people who've become pet owners had never been pet owners before they had often wanted to be, but. Life got in the way, if you like going out to work or, just not being around to, train a puppy and, to make them a member of the family.

[00:20:45] And that changed, that genuinely changed. So what's been really amazing and delightful to watch. Is this enormous change in the typical customer who has gone from being somebody who had pets before to for the first time, they're delighted to have a pet in their, family and [00:21:00] supporting that change for them enabling to, be successful in it and helping them to along the trying journey of having a puppy.

[00:21:08] it's very happy to do that. I know that trying journey, by the way, we have a 10 week old black lab puppy downstairs, and having been down around this loop many times before. How trying it is.

[00:21:20] James: Steven, you meant you're excited about countries four and five. So how do you guys go about a process of making big strategic decisions like that and what is the sort of drivers those sorts of decisions, and w where do you think you're going to go next?

[00:21:39] Steven: One of the things that I think that we do well, and one of the things that we spend a lot of time is thinking about the future and planning for it. we make decisions. Rarely, but we think hard about them before we do. and so [00:22:00] I slightly flippantly throw out the idea of country four and five as if that's going to come next week or next month.

[00:22:05] That's not the case. we are very focused on making a success of the U S in the same way. We have already made fantastic inroads into the Swedish marketplace. but the answer to your question is what defines a market for us or an attractive market for us. The passenger is marketplace in the world kind of broadly falls into two categories.

[00:22:24] Those countries where. Pet insurance is well known and well understood and well penetrated UK, Sweden, Australia, Japan, fall into that category. And where penetration rates, the percentage of pets that's insured is over a quarter. The UK is 30% and Sweden is 60%. and those countries where pet insurance is very much in its infancy, where.

[00:22:47] It's a nascent marketplace. And actually the challenge for us will be about educating the players in that market that's and pet owners that pet insurance can help them. The U S is a great example of that [00:23:00] penetration rates in the U S are amazingly only 2%, only 2% of pet owners in the us buys pet insurance.

[00:23:06] but most of continental Europe is like that Germany, Italy, France, Holland. and so what success, requires is quite different depending on the marketplace itself. our history, our background, as I described it, these communities was all about consumer education. It was all about helping people to find the right community and find the right insurance for them.

[00:23:28] And that is a very core skill that we learned and embedded in our business that we use every single day in the U S it's about helping people to understand the advantages of pet insurance. Why it's an important part. Responsible pet ownership, how to find the right type of cover. Cause there are many different types of cover and how to pick the right player because of course there are many different types of player as well, and that education will be critically important in the market places where there's low penetration.

[00:23:57] And, the switcher market [00:24:00] and providing compelling customer experiences with great products at sensible pricing is what's critical in the marketplaces where there's big penetration and understanding the difference between those two, understanding the drivers to how do you go from one to the other, the timeframe over which that happens?

[00:24:16] That's all about. And data absolutely underlies everything we do from pricing to segment targeting to how do we deal with claims and the like, so yes, I mean, data is critical. The larger we are, of course, the deeper our dataset and the more impenetrable our position and the more able we are to take advantage.

[00:24:37] The scale and to bring that to bear for better customer experiences.

[00:24:41] Hector: Yeah. That's awesome. And, and, it's great that companies now have all that data available to help inform, the decisions that you guys make. obviously moving country or moving into new countries is a big strategic decision.

[00:24:52] Obviously, there are many other big strategic decisions that have to be made in a company. I wonder, which you think is harder discipline society on the right [00:25:00] decision to make, or actually executing on that decision.

[00:25:04] Steven: I think that, decision-making itself should be straightforward, for leaders and the process of decision making, how you arrive at a decision and then making it should be second nature.

[00:25:18] I'd be worried if that wasn't the case. Executing is the massive difference between somebody who is a, has a great idea. And somebody who can turn that into meaningful sales and bottom line numbers. And the execution is the, really tough stuff. execution is the piece that I think sorts out the successful business.

[00:25:40] Away from those who are going to be less successful in the future And execution is really the piece that we put our time and effort and energy into. and that's where you get great compelling net promoter scores from. And how do you do that? Not just for a thousand or 10,000 customers.

[00:25:57] How do you do that for half a million customers [00:26:00] and keep doing that every single day. And that's about teamwork. That's about having. Operational focused individuals, not my bag at all. okay. Eliza who's our chief operating officer and has been for five years. This is his single-minded obsession. He reads every single customer review every single day.

[00:26:18] Good and bad. And that's a massive commitment. and that informs him. That informs how the decision processes that we go through ourselves. and so being relentless, relentlessly obsessed with execution is really critical for any business that wants to scale.

[00:26:36] James: Yeah. That's really, really interesting. you've highlighted that, that you've filled your team with people that are strong in areas that you feel less comfortable with. Is there, is there one role that you wish you'd taught earlier for, in the growth of.

[00:26:52] Steven: or there's always things that I wish I'd done earlier. so we last week, I'm delighted to say we recruited a new chief marketing officer.[00:27:00]

[00:27:00] only the second chief marketing officer we've had in our nine year history. A fantastic individual by, the name of Adam Rostam who joins us in Babylon health. And yes, I wish we'd had a new chief marketing officer sooner. That's always the case. It took us 20 months to find him. But I much prefer to have a great end game than to close the vacancy sooner and really wish that we'd done better.

[00:27:21] so I have become enormously patient when it comes to recruitments and knowing that it's much better to have a vacancy than to have the wrong person in that seat.

[00:27:32] James: So would you say hire slowly fire fast? How do you view that

[00:27:38] Steven: I think that firing is, uh, A process that companies should use as infrequently as they possibly can. and not just because, it's hard to do because of course it's hard for everybody, but it's critically has a massive long shadow.

[00:27:53] and has dramatic implications for many who were nowhere close to ever being five they're, you know, they, they're the team that you want [00:28:00] to hang on to, but they're just a little bit nervous, a little bit uncomfortable about something that happened that didn't sit well with them. and they might just be a little bit more reluctant to leave of their own volition when actually that was never your intention.

[00:28:12] so at fire, as infrequently as you possibly possibly can, and much better that if you have somebody who's working for you, that is in the wrong role, work out, whether there is a better role for them, with you or to help them work out for themselves, that actually something better externally is the writer.

[00:28:31] Hector: Yeah, good advice. I'm sure lots of listeners will take heat of that. So, we, we touched on it at the start, about how you didn't ever set out to be solely in the pats market. but I wasn't. there have been any other parts of the vision you initially had that have changed through the journey either through necessity or through sensing a larger opportunity elsewhere that was bought by many largely, today look like the business you envisaged, or is it quite.

[00:28:58] Steven: So I never [00:29:00] envisaged a business that was mono-line. I never expected us to be in a space where actually historically, and I knew the pet insurance space. I had been a pet owner for many years, over many years, and therefore knew the marketplace, but it never occurred to me that the, marketplace could be so large and so vibrant and so fast.

[00:29:21] It just had never occurred to me that it would be the case at all. And actually initially a number of our investors were really worried about the scale of the target, addressable market, the town. and it didn't take very long for us to work out that actually, this is an enormous marketplace and is growing at a hellish pace globally.

[00:29:38] And that there are very few players who think about it on a global basis. and there are even fewer players who think about this as part of the broader petty ecosystem, which is how we think.

[00:29:49] Hector: where do you think go from here?

[00:29:50] Steven: So, so I talked about already the, idea that we're going to expand from being just a leading pet insurer to being a leading pet health provider. and there are examples of that [00:30:00] already, that are out in the marketplace. So when we launched in the U S back in March of this year, we didn't just launch an insurance product.

[00:30:06] We also launched a wellness cover as well. At the same time. wellness is something that's much more understood in the U S than insurance wellness is about regular. costs of being pet owners, such as vaccinations. vet checkups and tests, and that kind of thing, the kind of thing that would be insured would not be covered by insurance.

[00:30:27] And our aspiration in that was to create a policy where the wellness cover integrated completely with the insurance cover. So that as a responsible pet owner, when you walked into the vet, whatever treatment your, animal needed, the answer was always yes. When you work with. and so this is our first big step out of just being a purely in the pet insurance space.

[00:30:49] And you'll see us bring that to the UK and to Sweden. But, in contrast, we were the first player in the UK to offer tele vet. which is where you can get online [00:31:00] access to a vet through your mobile phone, particularly important out of hours and was very important during lockdown as well, where many vets were closed.

[00:31:07] we found that capability in Sweden and brought it to the UK, and now we're bringing it to the. so it isn't just about insurance is about helping our customers to become better, more responsible Pat's parents and helping them to enjoy their pets and for their pastime for longer healthier lives as a result of all of that.

[00:31:25] James: Well, Stephen, there's been so much in there around retention culture fundraising. NPS scoring. I'm sure listeners will need to note that to take down everything. And lots and lots of useful tips in there. We always like to round things up by asking our dinner party guests game. Uh so if you were to have dinner with three people who would they be

[00:31:44] Steven: so you told me you're going to ask this question and you have given me 45 minutes to think about it in, between. You've been firing a bunch of other questions at me. So, and so I was thinking hard about what I would want to do with this.

[00:31:56] I'm a massive jazz fan and I think it would be [00:32:00] truly awesome to have a jazz jamming session. so to invite some of the. Fantastic. Jazz greats, Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong, or maybe some of the singers. I don't know, like, at a James or Billie holiday or I don't know. I just think that would be a truly fantastic evening and your front room to have some of the all-time jazz greats, Ella Fitzgerald.

[00:32:23] I dunno someone awesome singing and some amazing music. I think that's somewhere in that it is, my ideal answer. and then I also was thinking about whether it would be possible, and this is not meant as an arrogant comment, but whether it would be possible to bring some of the mistakes of history to life and try and correct them.

[00:32:44] so would it be possible to go back in time and to think really hard about who you would have, uh, as a dinner guest and try and dissuade them as individuals against something that they were going to do later in. to try and change the course of human history. but I [00:33:00] decided that I probably should steer clear of that.

[00:33:01] And, and cause that was really where my wine was going first. Hence my question about when was this going to take places, dinner party but I think, I think I'll stick with some jazz grapes. I think that would be a truly awesome evening.

[00:33:12] James: Well, Stephen, thank you so much. That's a great insight into, some of your interests outside of work.

[00:33:18] And, as I said, there's lots in there for other people, entrepreneurs, founders, people who work in tech to, think about. so thank you so much for coming on and telling us your writing unicorns.

[00:33:29] Steven: Fantastic. Jen's many thanks for the opportunity. And I've enjoyed it very much. Indeed.

[00:33:34] Hector: Very glad. Thanks Steven.

[00:33:36] That's it for this week. I hope you were able to take away many learnings from this episode. Thankfully, we have plenty, more amazing guests and insightful conversations coming your way. Every week, every Wednesday. Be sure to subscribe to riding unicorns on apple, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Thank you again for listening. If you're interested in supporting the show.

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