In the Game of Insurance, a young prince is challenging the status quo… and building a new empire. u|Chief held court with Gideon Galloway, CEO and Founder of King Price.
What got King Price off the ground? Was it the premise of premiums that decrease, was it how you set up working with insurers… or was it all about a cool logo and website?
Insurance is a grudge purchase, understandably, and I always looked for a way to make it less so. Our decreasing premium model alleviates the ‘eina’ for our clients. It got us off the ground and keeps us ahead. Customer service is another area we’re known for but even this isn’t enough of a differentiator.
Our decreasing premium model is our USP (no other insurer in the world does this, as far as we know). But, I wanted more, which led to ‘customer is king’, a closely-held value. This, in turn, led to our unique internal culture, which leaves no room for anything stiff and stifling in the way do business. We recognise innovation and implement better ways of doing things, all the time.
How did the initial idea spark and what was the process of taking the idea to market?
I’ve been in the insurance industry for many years and I remember wondering why premiums never decrease. Initially, I raised the issue at the insurer I was working at but, because their business model is structured as it is, they were in no position to amend it.
I now understand that their model is based on greed. So, I decided to take the greed out of the equation and rather offer insurance that’s fair and logical.
What kept you going when people tried to dissuade you from continuing your ‘crazy idea’?
Well, when I had spent all my savings and my wife and I didn’t own a house, I started to wonder whether my idea would ever come to fruition. I remember going for a run and asking God for guidance. I was three years into pitching and seeking investors, with nothing to show for it.
All my savings were gone and I had two kids and a wife to take care of. I never heard God telling me stop, so I didn’t.
A year and 40 pitches later I found an investor who was willing to bring my idea to life.
I decided to take the greed out of the equation and rather offer insurance that’s fair and logical.
What challenges did you go through with your website to make the user experience optimal?
One of our challenges was registering the domain name King Price. When we started the registration process, we realised that the name was registered (and unused) by someone in Queenstown. It took a road trip and a little convincing, but eventually he gave us the rights to the name.
How do you ensure you keep pushing the envelope?
We have a fantastic team of people who are well-equipped to keep up with the latest advances that our business needs to make. I’m proud to say that they’re consistently on the ball and ensure that King Price is way ahead of its game on all the fields that matter.
What gave you ‘the right’ to become the founder of such a visionary company?
I believe it’s more a calling than a right. I’m passionate about what I do and I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I love creating, starting and building innovative businesses.
Are you computer savvy and app savvy… or do you just hire the right people?
I’m computer savvy but I also firmly believe in hiring people who are more capable and knowledgeable than I am. This allows the business to flourish. Entrusting skilled people to use their abilities to enhance a business can only work in the best interest and development of the company. I advocate strongly for all entrepreneurs to hire the right people to fill the right positions.
Based on what you’ve envisioned, believed in, and made happen, how do you see the potential for disruption in other industries to create a better local and international economy?
Just as the industrial revolution changed the world, so artificial intelligence is going to affect every industry and force companies to evolve whether they’re willing or not. And the ramifications for local, national and international economies are going to be massive. We’re at the beginning phase of a time of massive development. The question for companies is whether they’re at the forefront, and using the potential to gain a disruptive lead, or lagging behind.
Entrepreneurs tend to want to hold on to ownership of their ideas instead to being open to growing their businesses.
Your advice for other disruptors?
I say it a lot but I’ll say it again: It’s better to have a small slice of a pie that’s worth something than to have a large slice of a pie that has no value. If it means having to sell a stake in your business to investors who can bring in revenue and open paths that you couldn’t have done on your own, then do it. Entrepreneurs tend to want to hold on to ownership of their ideas instead to being open to growing their businesses.
What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in insurance?
The world’s changing weather patterns and increasingly devastating natural disasters have the potential to be a big challenge. Also, we’ll soon have self-driving cars hitting the market hard, which will see insurers having to evaluate and cover this totally new risk. Risks inherent to technology will also challenge the industry. Insuring cyber risks is going to be challenging.
Is King Price moving international?
We’ve already established a strong business in Namibia, and we’ll soon venture into Botswana and Mauritius as well. Then, watch out world!
Tell me about how you lead your team? You’re apparently somewhat quirky and don’t take yourself seriously.
I lead a team of highly motivated and self-driven individuals that I don’t have to micro-manage. This leaves me more time to focus on growing the business. It’s been said that I haven’t done much growing up as far as my wild heart is concerned. I come to work to have fun and I truly believe that if you aren’t having fun then you’re doing something wrong.
We always tell our clients that we take what we do very seriously, but ourselves… not so much! My dress code is a reflection of who I am. I love my shorts and flip-flops and, in our kingdom, they’re completely appropriate attire for the CEO and everyone else.
We take what we do very seriously, but ourselves… not so much.
How do you see the office and the employee of the future?
It’s definitely a plan for us to own our own campus, with facilities that’ll truly empower us to ‘live with purpose’, which is another value. We’ve just opened an on-site training academy to host our new employee induction sessions, up-skill current employees, and enable further education for all our employees to help them be the best version of themselves. In the future, we’ll probably have even more toys at the office, to encourage our employees to have fun at work. We’d also love to offer our employees more benefits. Our employees are just as important to us as our clients, and staff happiness is a key focus for us. We do what we can to create an environment that’s conducive for them as individuals.
You launched with a bang and made a big impact. How have you continued that success, and what challenges have you, as a disruptor, created for the industry?
We remain agile. This means we make decisions and execute actions faster than our competitors, which enables us to stay ahead of trends and challenges. Key to this is our analytics system, which allows each manager to see their KPIs and measure their performance against their targets at any time, in real-time. Not only does this create accountability, it allows us to be proactive and make the correct decisions for the business at the right time. We don’t wait for month-end reports to assess our performance and then try to rectify problems retrospectively.
- Gideon Galloway is the founder and CEO of King Price Insurance, an innovative disruptor in the insurance industry. www.kingprice.co.za