Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Rune Brunborg, Co-Founder of Tribe

1. Who are you?

I’m Rune Brunborg, co-founder at Tribe – the Tinder for Insurance customers. At Tribe we’ll make simple and fair insurance solutions for responsible people and their friends, utilizing their social network.

Before joining Tribe I’ve headed Penger.no – the largest online financial aggregator in Norway, I’ve been head of strategy at Skandiabanken – a pure online bank with NPS>80, I was Director at advisory firm PwC and research scholar at NHH – the leading business school in Norway.

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

We plan to sell all the property/casualty insurances a responsible private person needs. We soft-launched in August 2016 and will continuously roll out more products during the next year.

Through launching Tribe we’ll challenge the existing, conservative insurers in the market and providing a fair and simpler alternative. We have insurance competency on board, but we have an overweight of digital competency on the team – making our customer orientation higher than for the traditional insurance companies.

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

For years I’ve been frustrated with the friction between insurers and insurance companies. The relation between the two has turned bad – as insurers need to be wary of insurance fraud and sceptic to any insurance claim – and the customers know that they are being overcharged by the insurers. I was convinced there had to be a better way. I knew many of my friends were careful with their possessions – as I am. But the legislation makes it difficult for us to group together and form «our own insurance company».

With the technology platform that we’ve built this becomes possible. We provide an infrastructure for grouping together with people you trust – and we provide insurance coverage for the really big accidents that you might encounter – even if you are careful.

The first phase of Tribe I financed with my savings. I had some financial buffer from co-founding Monobank – a successful start-up bank launched 2015 – but still it was a hard decision to skip a «normal job» and realize a risky dream – having a family to support as well. Without the support of my son who said «go for it – what is the worst thing that can happen» and the enthusiasm of the dream team of co-founders I’m not sure I would have the balls to do it.

As things have evolved – bringing in employees and external investors I must say I am more stressed than when it was only my own money. Now I feel obligated to succeed, on behalf of the team and the investors. We have a great team of investors – all hand picked. Apart from some close friends they are all strategically important partners or are professional investors with a competent view and specific contributions.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Initially it was having the balls to do it. Our concept is unique and engaging – and the more people we talked to the more obvious it was that we just needed to do this. We were convinced that «the customers deserve our solution and we are the best team at delivering it».

Over time the most difficult task has been to convince some of the insurance partners we need to co-operate with that the business idea is sound. The insurance industry is very conservative – as the potential downside (with a catastrophic loss) is much bigger than the likely upside.

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

I am frustrated with the lack of customer orientation at many traditional finance companies. I believe that the most important contribution of FinTech-companies is fresh thinking around creating customer value – not the technology itself.

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

I think there are already a lot of fine examples of FinTech-companies from the region. In order to grow further and even faster I think it is important that the entrepreneurs have arenas like FinTech Forum to exchange ideas and meet investors.

I also believe it is important that the regulators play a more active role. They need to create supportive entities or arenas for helping the innovative thinking of the FinTechs and they need to put in place quicker regulatory responses to new and customer friendly thinking. I like the idea of the UK FSA Sandbox-concept and would like to see more such solutions also elsewhere in Europe.

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

Share your thinking and don’t be afraid that anyone will steal the idea. I don’t think there are so many ideas that other people hasn’t already thought of. But having the idea is only one (important) step. Execution is key. If you are good at executing it won’t matter that you share the idea – as you will succeed first. If you are not good at executing you will need a team around you – and sharing your idea is a way of recruiting people or finding the right team.

Bring in a team early and be generous with the team and the right investors. In my opinion it is better to own 2% of FC Bayern München than 50% of Luton Town FC.