MyInsuranceClub Painless Financial Decisions through the Power of the Internet
MyInsuranceClub.com is a high-tech online insurance aggregator and comparison service. With the intent of easing financial purchases via an online medium, the company services two sets of customers – the website visitor who wants to buy an insurance policy and the insurance manufacturer who wants to serve that visitor by selling an insurance policy.YourStory had the pleasure of finding out more about the journey behind this venture in conversation with Deepak and Manoj.
So tell us about the founding members and their backgrounds.
MyInsuranceClub.com was launched in 2009 founded by Deepak Yohannan – Founder / CEO and
Manoj Aswani – Co-founder / COO.
Despite our disagreements, a few things we passionately believe in are the ‘Power of the Internet’, ‘Information Symmetry’ and ‘Keeping Things Simple’. Our members have worked in the technology teams of MNCs across continents and have an in-depth understanding of systems and consumer preferences across different financial products.
Deepak started his career with Tata Motors and has worked with organisations like GE Capital, CitiFinancial and Moneyline. His last stint with Moneyline heading the marketing division gives him a crucial edge in handling the online marketing business. He is a mechanical engineer and has done his MBA from IIM Calcutta.
Manoj has worked in functions of Sales & Distribution in addition to Marketing and Strategic Alliances. He was last associated with Moneyline where he was handling sales for Insurance & Retail loans in Mumbai. He has worked with CitiFinancial and HDFC General Insurance. Manoj is a BMS Grad and has done his PG from XLRI,Jamshedpur.
What is the importance of insurance and how do you think it is placed in the market today?
We all know that insurance and Internet penetration inIndiais quite low. However, everyone sees huge potential each of these sectors possess in our country. It’s only been a decade since this industry has opened up to private players and there is a huge untapped market each of these companies aim for. No doubt, it will take time to reach a satisfactory penetration level in both these industries but action has already been initiated. Purchasing an insurance policy has long term implications and impacts the buyer and the people dependent on him. Hence, it is imperative the customer be fully informed of his options and the ramifications of his decisions priot to a purchase. It is not something to be acquired with mere promises of attractive returns from a pushy salesman. This is where an unbiased player like MyInsuranceClub.com can offer a simple, easy to understand and comprehensive comparison of insurance products up for grabs.
What was the idea that led you to establish this venture? How has that been translated to your business model?
The idea has always been to do something aligned with our experience and customize offerings in the online space. We’ve see ourselves achieving our envisaged scale in about three years from launch. Internet penetration has been growing inIndiafor quite some time now but for some reason, e-commerce has not picked up as much. We saw an opportunity for successful online distribution in the current climate and now we are preparing ourselves to gradually shift over to e-commerce based operations when the market matures.
When was your venture established? How has your journey been so far?
The idea was conceived sometime in January, 2009 and we really kicked off our action plan in June, that year. The website was launched in October, 2009 and in less than 18 months, it moved up to be one of the top 3 websites in the web aggregator space.
Tell us a bit about the market size that you are trying to capture via your insurance based products?
Currently, both the online space and the insurance industry inIndiaare growing, instigating tremendous action in this area. The insurance industry is actively engaged in acquiring customers through an online mode as it is considered to be the most transparent mechanism for selling products. Also, the profile of customers available through this medium are valuable leads that companies aim to acquire.
How has the response to your portal been so far?
The response to our website has been exceptionally encouraging. A service like this was and continues to be unheard of in our country and people appreciate the fact that there is a website which makes their task easier and saves money. In the absence of our services, customers would have to go through the product literature of each policy (from different insurance companies) and do a study by themselves. This is not an easy job as information is not available in a standard format and is often not easy to understand.
Where do you source products from? What aspects are your insurance packages based on?
Today, most of our website pages are rated very well by search engines such as Google. This leads to a lot of direct traffic to our website on a daily basis. We do not make cold calls or drive traffic through SMS campaigns, etc. Among the sourcing channels, we explore:
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) on Google, Yahoo and MSN on a cost per click (CPC) model
- Email marketing campaigns on a cost per mail model.
- Affiliate marketing where we partner with lot of websites who drive traffic to our websites. We pay them on every lead generated on a cost per lead (CPL) model.
- Display network (Ad banners), we use this channel in a very limited way because for some reason this channel works out to be a little expensive for us.
The online channels can be easily tracked and monitored and hence we know exactly where every rupee has been spent. This is not possible while using the offline space. We have been following a very lean model from day one and intend to carry that further too.
What are your main revenue sources?
We have no incentive to push a particular product to any customer and would rather have the customer do an exhaustive comparison. When customers show interest in a particular plan, we share this request with the insurance company. This model is still evolving and it would take a couple of years for a clear model to emerge. Till then, there are multiple channels of income which come into play.
What is your customer base and how many users visit your portal?
On a daily basis, we get close to 7,000 visitors. This includes organic (direct visitors) and paid visitors. We are focused on connecting with people who use the Internet and hence all our sourcing channels are through online networks.
How do you plan to scale up your business?
Our company's purpose is to simplify the decision making process for our customers when buying a financial product. To scale, we can:
- Use the power of technology to drive business
- Always stay cost effective & lean
- Pass on maximum benefits to our partners
- Make information available to customers in the simplest and most comprehensible manner.
Idea is to keep it simple, learn, stabilise the business and then scale up. While the company is currently focused on the insurance business inIndia, there are plans to expand both geographically and from a product perspective.
On which technology has the portal been developed?
Our website is built on Microsoft Asp platform.
Are you looking at hiring?
Yes! The scale of our operations is increasing and we are looking for action oriented people who share our passion.
As an e-commerce site, what are your challenges?
Currently, we do not fall under the “E-Commerce” tag. But as we said, this industry is evolving and we would need to see how best we can serve the customers online. There are regulatory challenges too.
Any major achievements or breakthroughs?
For one, we are an operationally profitable company and that has been our sole aim for the first 18 months. We think that has been our biggest strength and will now help us to focus on growth. It has been a conscious decision to follow this strategy.
Anything else that you would like to tell us and your customers and fellow entrepreneurs?
There are different ways in which we can group budding entrepreneurs. Let me group them into the following and share some insights:
- Those with an idea and not under any revenue pressure. This group is lucky as they have the luxury to test, make mistakes, learn from them and then try all over again. There is not much advice that is needed to be given here. Very often good business models will eventually emerge here!
- Those with a great idea but with immediate revenue pressure. We often hear quotes like “9 out of 10 ideas do not work or are no good”. Well to be fair to those 9, its not that their ideas were not good, it could be a just bad timing and by the time they got a hang of things, they ran out of money – hard luck! Making a venture succeed is more like making a plan and sticking to it – all of it. Yes, there might be minor changes as you move ahead but if there are too many variations in the plan, it is a sure sign of things going wrong.
The only other crucial part is about the people you have on board to help you succeed in the venture – be 200% sure about every employee you have on board. Any slippage there typically proves costly on a lot of fronts.
For more details, please visit – MyInsuranceClub.com
- Rohit Rohan