How we launched our travel insurance product in 4 months
What a month it’s been, the hardest but by far the most rewarding for the team so far.
Pluto is now live (beta)! That means, from today, you can buy travel insurance. But not just any old insurance, with Pluto you can tailor it to you and your trip like never before. It’s explained simply and beautifully to help you understand exactly what you’re getting. And it’s hassle-free, that means it easy to buy, and even easier to manage afterwards. From making claims online to checking your cover whenever, wherever you want.
We’ve also sold 50 policies in the first 48 hours of launching! Our early access list were clearly hungry.
We couldn’t be prouder to announce this launch. But there is still so much more we want to do. This is just the beginning…
Starting an insurance company
So how does a team of 3, with no insurance background build and launch an insurance company in under half a year? There are 3 ingredients that you absolutely need. Money, an underwriter and of course, becoming regulated.
- For the money, we raised just under £150k earlier this year as part of our pre-seed round. The purpose of the raise was to get the product live and launch it to our early users. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’re over hump #1, launching the product. Now we enter the exciting (and daunting) world of being live, supporting real customers and more importantly getting real customers and lots of them.
- Secondly, we partnered with Zurich Insurance, to provide top quality, flexible insurance, whilst remaining competitive. Together, we have looked at the insurance product, purchase journey and claims experience from the ground up.
- Finally, you can’t just start selling insurance (not legally anyway). You need to get the FCA on-board, and that means becoming regulated. Pluto was accepted in the FCA’s Sandbox earlier this and are now proudly regulated. It’s been a steep learning curve but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how supportive they’ve been.
And once you have all of that, you can build a product!
Designed, built and launched in 4 months
The co-founding team have a fair chunk of experience building digital services for other companies but had never done it for our own product. It’s safe to say that we’ve surprised ourselves with the time it’s taken to launch a full travel insurance product. Sure there are bits we chopped out and some corners cut, but when it comes to selling insurance, you can only be so lean. The so-called ‘MVP’ is bigger than you might like or expect, and I’m sure many FinTechs and InsurTechs will understand with this well.
But, we think we found the right balance, with 4 months on the clock and around £30k spent on the MVP, it feels like the right time to launch. Being lean and cost-efficient is a top priority for us.
Every 2 weeks, we spoke (and continue to speak) to around 8 customers for an hour and show them everything we have. If you’re not familiar with user research, this may seem like a low number, but generally, you’ll uncover 90%+ of any issues or areas for improvement. This feedback is vital, and you can never get too much of it.
Our technical environment set up, allows us to quickly iterate and re-deploy changes. This ensures a really tight feedback loop between our developers, designers, product team and customers.
A few of our favourite tools: Zeplin (hosting designs), GitHub (no explanation needed), Heroku (managing apps), Trello (task management), Respondent(user research), Chrome dev tools (those who know, know), Mailchimp(customer emails).
But, we need to be patient over the next few months
Patient? You should be shouting as loud as possible and to everyone you can! Maybe not.
Product market fit is the holy grail for any startup and while this is usually measured by traction, sales, users and downloads, we think it’s really about much more than that. All those metrics can be bought, hacked or worse (faked), the real test is whether people truly want your product, whether once they’ve used it, they can’t live without it and if given the chance, they will convince all their friends to use it.
This is exactly what we’re focused on over the next few months. We will, of course, need our target audience coming through the virtual front door, but with the purpose of learning about and refining our product.
We’ve already had incredible feedback from our first 50 customers. And we’re releasing updates over 5 times each day. This live feedback process, as well as countless more intimate customer interviews, will help bring the product to the best it can be.
Marketing and distribution
The question we get asked more than any other by current and prospective investors is how will we acquire our target audience?
And we just love to answer this question! There could be a whole other post on this, but the core pillars are:
- Build a viral growth engine by incentivising referrals
- Communicate the risks of not buying insurance and the value of the Pluto proposition (organic/social content)
- Build brand trust and awareness (partnerships, paid marketing)
We know it won’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be much fun if it was! We will be experimenting with different approaches, being cautious to not spend too much too quickly on something not proven or not clearly understood. This approach may seem logical, but requires a lot of discipline and isn’t followed as much as you might expect in small and big companies. Over the coming months, we will share more on how this goes.