Passion is the primary requirement for an aspiring entrepreneur, says Michele who was crowned the winner of Seedstars 2016 for his innovative company Democrance. A revolution in the centuries-old industry, Democrance makes insurance accessible to low-income populations. BTW joins him for a chat about what makes him tick and what he has learnt in the journey so far.
Tell us briefly about yourself:
I am Michele, I am Italian but the UAE is my home and the home of Democrance, of whom I am the proud Founder and CEO. Our mission is to democratise insurance by making it accessible to the low-income population across MENA.
Give us a brief summary about your educational and professional background:
I have a Master in Management from ESCP Europe, where I studied in London, Madrid and Paris. After some experience in consulting and banking, I started my career in insurance at some of the largest insurance companies in France, Egypt and the UAE and that’s really how I became passionate about microinsurance and its potential to improve life of low-income communities.
When and how did you get around to developing democrance?
I was working in several insurance companies and realised that they cannot provide insurance to those who need it most (which account for 99% of our region!), so I decided to found Democrance to help them serve this underserved market.
‘Democrance’ is an interesting solution. Tell us more about the application and how did this idea strike you?
We developed a technology platform that takes care of the whole insurance value chain, through which end consumers can purchase, pay for and use insurance products just with a few clicks using their mobile phone, whether an old-school feature phone without internet or the latest smartphone. We design insurance for the mass segments of telcos and remittance houses to help them achieve their core objectives, while doing something good for society
What have been the initial challenges and how did you overcome them?
We are pioneering a new model, which is unique in the region, so of course we had to overcome some challenges, but as soon as insurance and distribution partners understand our value proposition they are very excited to work with us
How is Democrance unique?
We are at the cross-roads of the centuries-old insurance industry and the fast-moving mass players like telcos and remittance houses. All this, backed
by a social mission to providing
protection to the uninsured population across the region.
Where do you see democrance in the next 5 years?
We will provide insurance to millions of low-income population via their mobile phone and through partnerships with telcos, remittance houses and other distributors.
If you were to list 5 essential qualities of a successful entrepreneur, what would they be?
Passion, passion, passion, passion and passion. Resilience, stamina, focus and perseverance will also help.
How has democrance developed so far?
We have built a team, developed our technology product and started implementing in the market, starting with the UAE and soon rolling out to other countries. It has been an incredible journey so far that would not have been possible without the passion of all the people that made it happen.
How did you find Seedstar in Bahrain 2016?
It was a great experience: we met many interesting people from different angles, whether fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, accelerators…. And it is so refreshing to see so many people enthusiastic about our model.
How do you feel about being the winner of Seedstar?
I feel energised and euphoric. It is yet another confirmation that we are doing the right thing.
List us three things you have learned:
I learnt that you have always to be in a mindset of learning. If you are open and listening, you’ll get something out of it. I learnt that many challenges that we face are common to other entrepreneurs and it is enriching to hear and share experiences. Finally, it is invigorating to see so much passion and belief for what people are doing in different countries and sectors.
What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs in and around GCC?
If you believe and are passionate about something, go for it. There’s nothing that stops you other than yourself to turn your dream into a reality.