INSIGHTS #10: Coverfox to Acko: Varun Dua’s Startup Journey in the Insurance Market

Jul 20, 2018 46 MIN

In a startup ecosystem that runs on a culture of “move fast and break things,” Varun Dua took the path less traveled to establish Coverfox in 2011, an online insurance aggregator platform . Seven years down the line, we look back at his startup journey and the lessons he learned from plunging into the Indian insurance market as an entrepreneur. We also learn more about his newest venture: Acko, a general insurance company developing an innovative, more efficient age of insurance.

Though Varun only fell into insurance coincidentally, he was quickly sucked into its world and discovered everything about the market’s complex inner workings. Then it wasn’t long before the itch to startup got to him. In his own words, “I started off not really clear about what I wanted to do, but I definitely didn’t want to do what I was doing.”

Varun therefore talks to us about how he identified his vision, and in true startup fashion, the critical ways he pivoted his initial idea to solve more imperative problem statements. What originally started as a B2B software service company for insurance providers grew into Coverfox. Through tedious market research, many hours of fine tuning, and a hasty wake-up call about his technical understanding of product management and process development, Varun changed the way insurance works in India’s ecosystem.

His Coverfox journey was all about asking the important questions that providers and aggregators simply weren’t addressing. For example, do we really want our customer to go down to their car park, unlock their car, open their glove box, find their soon-to-expire car insurance policy, and log back onto the website, just to enter their policy’s expiration date into a field on our online questionnaire? We are sure you are tired just reading that sentence, which is why Varun streamlined this process to make closing a deal faster and simpler. It is no wonder then that Coverfox has become one of the leading online aggregators in India. More importantly, Varun gained a better appreciation for business processes and product management – two aspects he advises all startup founders to pay attention to, especially if they are eventually interviewing product managers only to have no idea what questions to ask. (True story! Hear it directly from Varun.)

This is what makes his journey into the nitty gritty world of insurance as a provider with Acko so important to him. He first sought to turn the insurance market on its head – but you can’t add a new coat of paint and expect the building to suddenly become brand new; You’ve got to change the rails and the plumbing too. “And if you really want to change the plumbing, you’ll have to start manufacturing it,” he states. Thus, he established Acko, an effortless way to find insurance, because it goes where the consumer goes, whether that’s or the Ola app. Join us on the latest INSIGHTS podcast as Varun discusses how he responded to those crucial questions, his product-market fit research process, and the key takeaways from his journey at Coverfox that all those looking to startup should know.