It has been a long, hard journey but we have all overcome the same together with sincerity and passion
I come from an armed forces background and no one in our family has ever run a business. Therefore, when I decided to take a jump into entrepreneurship a decade back, people around me were very apprehensive about my career decision.
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I was in a well-paying job, my children were in school and there were other financial responsibilities as well that I couldn’t have ignored if I was to think rationally then.
In fact, I always wanted a secured job. The team wanted it. I am talking about people who all got together then to build this. I have always been a team person and felt when so many people believed in it, and then I needed to do it for the team. It might sound irrational to many, but that is the truth.
Personally, for myself, there was a clear sacrifice in starting PolicyBazaar from a family and commercial perspective.
And today after 10 years of hard work, resilience, and persistence, I can proudly say that PolicyBazaar is here to stay. It has been a long, hard journey but we have all overcome the same together with sincerity and passion.
Today, more than the fancy tags labelled around us, the fact that I take immense pride in is that we have been able to build a very solid consumer-centric and profitable business – one that is changing the way India consumes financial products.
If I look back on the journey, there have been five major things that I have learned. I thought I would share the same here – they might come of use for people who are aspiring or existing entrepreneurs trying to scale up their business.
Trust your instincts
When we started Policybazaar.com, things didn’t go as we had anticipated. It’s not that we weren’t prepared for those challenges or had not envisioned those roadblocks but the pace at which they came and in the ways that they emerged, these were different from how we had planned for.
Fundraising took longer than what we thought, and many of us didn’t take salaries for us in those initial days. While the entire team believed in the venture and stood by it during those days, there was one individual who didn’t believe in what we were trying to achieve and my instinct told me that I should ask him to quit.
However, I gave him a benefit of doubt then thinking that he might change. Today, after 10 years, while 85% of the founding team is still together, or those who left are still part of a larger PB family, he happens to be the only person who left on a bad note. That incident taught me that I should never go against my instinct.
Believe in yourself
In the year 2014, we planned the expansion of PolicyBazaar.com to make us a one-stop destination for all kinds of financial products, be it insurance, investments or loans. The business move was also aligned to diversify our risk of running a venture in a highly regulated space.
In fact, we were on the verge of closing a funding round and the next thing we knew is that the regulator prohibited insurance web aggregators to get into the business involving financial products other than insurance. It wasn't like a big setback that we couldn’t have overcome.
However, it pegged us back by a couple of months and we had to start a new brand, Paisabazaar.com that required to be built from scratch, required deeper investments, as we couldn’t have leveraged the brand that was starting to establish itself in the market. We could have decided to postpone the venture, but I always believe that if one door is closed, two others open.
PaisaBazaar, as a brand, is at a stage today where PolicyBazaar was then and is, in fact, growing faster than PolicyBazaar to become a serious fintech player. The bottom line is to always believe in yourself -- you are going to win more often than lose in such a scenario.
Be A Family
In 2011, when the company was still trying to establish an identity of its own, I found myself in a catch-22 situation. I had to attend a very important meeting, which couldn’t have been postponed. My wife was at that time in Europe studying and had her exams, and my kids fell sick, as well my mother in law who was looking after them.
My co-founder, coincidentally, was in the UK at that time and he volunteered to extend his trip by a few days and took care of them. There have been several such instances where people here have gone out of their way to help each other at PolicyBazaar. It shows the merits of building a family than a workplace.
Be Customer First
I had always wondered as to why an average Indian would be apprehensive of purchasing insurance when clearly they could afford one and benefits were immense. I learned that there were many deterrents, primary being – complex product literature, cumbersome buying process, rampant misspelling and no assistance during claims.
I was also aware that we were not the first insurance marketplace to set shop in the country. This made me realize that the whole experience was against the consumer or the common man.
Thus, we set about solving these problems and started putting the customer’s first by using all resources at our disposal. We used tech to offer a seamless buying experience and started innovating products with insurers to achieve our goal.
The results have paid off, we have today nearly 100 million consumer visits a year and more than 300,000 transactions happening every month. So customer first has been inherent in our philosophy. It wasn't an easy start, to begin with, this philosophy, but when it does start to reap, it pays off handsomely in the long run.
Team Before Self
People have often asked me what makes us successful. While it is a combination of many factors, but what stands out among us is the culture that we have imbibed here of putting the team before self.
Every company can grow at the pace that we did if an employee puts the team's self-interest ahead of theirs. It is akin to a team sport, if an individual plays for himself, the team will never shine.
To conclude, it has been ten years now for us. We are soon going to embark on our third venture -- DocPrime. When I had started the organization, I did imagine a successful business but never comprehend the pace at which we would grow.
Thus now that we have grown in confidence and in stature, I want to emphasise on one aspect that I learnt during the past decade – the journey has just begun. Once you start, you cannot get pedals off the bike.
So today, I want us to be a brand where the top 50 people in the organisation operate 50 different business entities. So while the success has been phenomenal, I would say we are just warming up to break new barriers.
Yashish Dahiya is Co-Founder and CEO, Policybazaar.com
First Published: IST