Uncommon Mavericks: Digital Risks
We run workspaces that help cultivate unique ideas and drive businesses forward. But that’s just our side of the story. Uncommon Mavericks is a series looking at the many risk-takers and high-achievers who operate within the Uncommon family. From disruptive businesses to innovative minds, we’re always proud to share stories of what goes down in our offices. Get inspired…
The digital age is upon us. As tech businesses continue to thrive, exciting innovations emerge and those less exciting tasks in our day-to-day lives become simplified and digitised. These changes range far and wide, with industries such as education, finance, and banking experiencing rapid transformation. But what about the insurance industry?
Insurance is still seen as somewhat outdated by those who deal in its products and services. The process of securing insurance for businesses traditionally eschews technology in favour of manual work by brokers or agencies. Legacy systems place restraints on innovations in tech, long term contracts run against the flexible nature of risks and conditions in the modern world, and poor customer service fails to address the requirements of digital businesses.
Enter Digital Risks, a modern business insurance provider who protect startups in technology industries against emerging technical risks. Or as CEO Cameron Shearer puts it: “it’s about improving the customer experience for buying and maintaining the right insurance. We want to make sure we’ve always got the best cover and that it’s available online.”
Like many business concepts, the idea behind Digital Risks originally came from a place of personal frustration. “I was working in an advertising agency and needed to get cyber insurance for some global clients” Cameron explains. “That’s where I realised that buying cyber insurance for more technical businesses was quite a difficult process. There was an opportunity to build better products for the tech space.”
“People tend to see insurance in a negative light and they do not experience a value proposition. It seems to have pretty poor customer service.”
He met co-founder and insurance guru Ben Rose and they struck a chord. Upon sharing qualms about the state of insurance they figured out the underlying problems: “people tend to see insurance in a negative light and they do not experience a value proposition. Insurance seems to have pretty poor customer service.” And with a little more brainstorming, they came up with the idea for Digital Risks.
The main goal was to make the process of getting insurance coverage for digital businesses more flexible, accessible, and manageable. The service would prove to be a useful addition to a digital landscape where such tasks are often either automated or greatly simplified.
“One of the fundamental things we changed was the contract lengths,” Cameron adds. “Insurance traditionally works on 12 month contracts but we stripped that away and made it month to month. This means customers have greater control and flexibility, while giving us more opportunities to build meaningful relationships with them. There is also an underlying motivation, or ‘promise’, to continue to deliver a great experience in order to retain them.”
Shaking up insurance
Simplifying insurance, targeting digital businesses, shortening contracts, breaking traditions – there is something undeniably disruptive about the fundamental concept behind Digital Risks.
But despite their tagline – “shaking up insurance” – wreaking havoc across the entire market is not a top priority for Digital Risks. They instead choose to take a more constructive approach.
“Deciding when and how to be disruptive is key,” Cameron says. “Particularly for insurance. This industry has been around for hundreds of years. It’s quite a complex thing and there are a lot of smart people out there. We’ve found a lot of success in working with our industry to improve it.”
After founding the company three years ago and spending over a year getting regulated by the FCA, Cameron and Ben have been running the live operations of Digital Risks for around eighteen months. The team continues to expand and the customers keep on coming as they perfect their service, but running a company based around risks doesn’t come without risks of its own.
“There is a point at which you need to take a leap to progress to the next stage of the business,” Cameron explains, adding that progress often means taking the plunge and expanding the team. Despite the risks involved, Cameron finds reassurance in the freedom granted by co-working. “It’s important to have that really flexible service where you can change the way you operate next month entirely; you can get a bigger office next week if you need it.”
“Deciding when and how to be disruptive is key. We’ve found a lot of success in working with our industry to improve it.”
The team at Digital Risks currently operate out of our Uncommon workspace in Borough. Having chosen to work from a building specifically designed to encourage wellbeing and focus, it comes as no surprise that the company values a healthy working environment.
“In these kind of spaces you have the ability to get away from the desk but still stay at work,” Cameron says. “Mixing up your environment in this way is good for the brain and the soul.”
This freedom to explore different surroundings and regimes is central to the co-working model, which has been shown to improve productivity, enhance concentration, and boost creativity. Having this level of flexibility and control over the working day has benefits outside of the office, especially given the opportunities and facilities offered by most co-working spaces.
“As a team, it’s always important to get out of the office and spend time socialising away from your day to day environment. We’re all pretty active too, and most of us go to the gym.”
But it’s not just about their working environment, it’s also their place in the environment at large. “We are very aware of our impact on the environment, especially being in a very paper heavy industry. We’ve made our processes and business quotes environmentally friendly; we don’t print heaps of paper, and we are trying to become paperless.”
The future of insurance
This modern and compassionate approach to company culture is often found in tech startups, but it’s refreshing in an industry traditionally perceived by many as complex, tedious, and stuffy. In both their approach and their presentation (their website is as smart and sleek as they come), Digital Risks are living proof that the insurance industry is changing in a big way.
“Because the financial and insurance industries in particular are so far behind other services, the exciting part is getting it to a position aligned with all the other things you do on a daily basis – being able to change and monitor insurance on the fly.”
While you can order and track pizza from your phone, book and plan your holiday in minutes, and hail yourself a taxi with the touch of a button, getting insurance coverage seems to lack this sense of immediacy and flexibility.
“Because the financial and insurance industries in particular are so far behind other services, the exciting part is getting it to a position aligned with all the other things you do on a daily basis.”
In this way, the insurtech industry presents fertile ground for innovation and new developments, especially amidst recent trends in the wider tech world like blockchain and machine learning.
“It’s exciting to see how these technologies might overlay into the insurance space,” Cam says. “We’re focusing a lot on the emerging risk and technology markets. Our guys are tech savvy, so they get right into it. They really understand the technology behind it.”
Onwards and upwards
Given these recent changes, the company is certainly coming up at just the right point in time. Cameron and the team intend to keep up the pace by expanding the company even further, taking their unique vision of flexible and accessible insurance beyond UK borders.
“This will be a big scaling year for us,” he explains. “We’ll be onboarding lots of new customers and growing the business over the next 12 months in the UK. In the next two years, we’ll start launching products in Europe.”
If the overwhelmingly positive response to their service from customers is anything to go by (Digital Risks enjoy an overall five star rating on Trustpilot), this is by no means unrealistic.
Cameron explains: “we are still a pretty new business but the objectives we are aiming for – having that good customer experience and providing the right product for the right business – they definitely come through in the reviews and feedback from businesses using Digital Risks.”
As the efficiency and simplicity afforded by digital technology further improves our daily lives, the insurance space will no doubt welcome more mavericks like the team over at Digital Risks. The question is: what can we expect from the changes that follow?
Uncommon takes pride in helping businesses thrive. Our workspaces are designed with your wellbeing in mind. Every single detail helps create an environment in which you can feel good about where and how you work. Visit our locations in Borough, Highbury & Islington, and Fulham to experience our unique vision of working life.