Alex Hearn

The ups and downs of being your own boss

Despite an exciting start to his career in insurance, working for broking business WTW, Alex knew that he wanted to do his own thing early on. “After university I looked at both ship and insurance broking, but I liked the people in insurance more” Alex explains. “I was working with a smart, interesting and skilled team of colleagues and was given real responsibility right from the start. But as I looked at the future, I knew that staying in the corporate world was not for me”.

Ten years ago, he used his bonus to start his own tech business – originally a social media platform to enhance the human relationships that are such a core part of the London insurance market. “The terrifying bit is the beginning when you are trying to prove the concept, but the wins make it all worthwhile. The first customer, the first cheque and the first great testimonial – these are the things you hang onto when you are worrying at 3am in the morning”. But after two years, Alex realised that he needed to change the model. “Of course, you think your idea is the right one, but you have to be open-minded to what the customer wants if you are going to succeed” he continues. “It was the content that was getting traction, so we pivoted to focussing on that”. He got outside investment to build a bespoke platform that made a wide variety of industry content available to different audiences. The platform has doubled in size every year since, with a host of big names now paying to share their content and it has expanded into the U.S.A. Alex focuses on three key areas; regular improvements to the site and to the channels they use to get the content read as widely as possible, promoting the business and negotiating with new subscribers or those renewing their contracts. “We have invested a lot of time in the States, visiting as regularly as possible to keep promoting the platform and we go to all the big conferences. Digital publishing has tremendous international reach, but speciality insurance is still very much a people business so building those relationships is key to future success”.