Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Felix Schollmeier, Co-Founder of Finanzchef24

1. Who are you?

My name is Felix Schollmeier, I am 34 years old, a Computer Scientist, former VC and currently a FinTech/InsurTech entrepreneur: I am the co-founder of Finanzchef24, the leading digital insurance broker and comparison platform for SMEs and entrepreneurs.

2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?

We are an InsurTech-enabled digital insurance broker solving our SME clients (business) insurance needs. We make buying business insurance extremely easy by offering an online self-service price comparison and underwriting platform as well as a personalized phone-based consulting service with our specialized insurance experts.

Since we are a (digital) broker our competitors are traditional brokers and tied agents – basically anyone who is providing insurance cover to SMEs and entrepreneurs. However, our advantage is that we are the first player who was able to solve the complexity of comparing business insurance by building our own comparison and underwriting software. This enables us to make buying business insurance easy, transparent and extremely fast, since we are able to provide live quotations and instant underwriting decisions.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?

Hendrik Rennert, my co-founder, and I worked at HW Capital, the FinTech-focused family office of the two Interhyp founders Robert Haselsteiner and Marcus Wolsdorf. There we analysed the entire FinTech market trying to find either opportunities for investment or starting companies. We realized that there are abundant business models targeting regular consumers, however, nearly none solved the same issues for SMEs and business owners – although the business insurance market is extremely large as well.

After further extensive research, real-life mystery shopping and testing a lean version online, we decided to start Finanzchef24, because we realized that there is a gigantic opportunity. We co-founded the company together with the two Interhyp founders, who also provided our first seed-funding. Afterwards, we approached a number of VCs and eventually were able to close a €2m Series-A-funding from Target Partners to build the first version of our platform.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Besides raising capital, the big three questions and challenges were: (1) can we build a technology to make complex business insurance products comparable, (2) can we find insurers who are willing to sell business insurance online and (3) will SMEs and business owners actually behave like private consumers and buy insurance online.

All these questions could be answered positively! Especially the insurer issue turned completely: initially the whole industry was extremely sceptical – at one point I was laughed at by an insurance expert who claimed selling business insurance online was impossible – and we could only launch with 4 partners. These days we have 40 partners on our platform and regularly approached by insurers to give insights about the buying patterns of SMEs or provide market intelligence.

5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?

I am most interested in the InsurTech sector given that our startup is in the space – and because I believe there is a lot of inefficiency in the system for consumers that can be solved by using technology.

The other part I am interested in is blockchain technology, not necessarily as cash alternative, but mostly as an approach to challenge how we currently use contracts and (transaction) registers.

6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the Continental Europe, and how can we help to accelerate it?

I believe strongly in a regular exchange beween other (FinTech) entrerpreneurs as well as experts and decision-makers from the established banking and insurance industry. Thus any form of events enabling these types of exchange are highly relevant for our sector.

7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

My co-founder and I both were outsiders to the insurance industry. While this position also has disadvantages, the outside perspective helped us to challenge the status quo and not focus on why things cannot be done. If we had listened to industry experts only, we would have never dared to launch Finanzchef24.

We also profited greatly from working together with Interhyp founders as our seed investors and co-founders, who not only opened doors for us at our first insurance partners, but also supported us throughout our journey with Finanzchef24. Thus, especially in the early phase I would recommend to work together with trusted advisors and experienced angels, especially if they possess relevant experience in the sector.