Inshare Risk

Turning risk into reward for small businesses

Starting and running a company is a risky business for all sorts of reasons. As a business owner, you accept this, recognising that rewards are usually intrinsically linked to the risks and decisions you take. But what if you could better manage all potential threats to your business and know that you’re working alongside people who really understand your marketplace?

This is exactly what InShare SMART Risk, a young Somerset business, has set out to do, as Co-Founder Gareth Eggle explains: ”Most businesses will do the basics: They comply with legal requirements by putting health and safety systems and so on in place, and then they buy insurance and settle on this, believing that they will be covered for all other eventualities. However, having worked in the Insurance Sector my whole career, my experience has shown me that this is unfortunately rarely the case – many companies are incredibly exposed. When you consider that some small to medium enterprises can spend up to and beyond 10% of their revenue on insurance, it tells me that there’s a real opportunity to make the whole system work smarter. And that’s why we have created InShare SMART Risk.”

InShare Smart Risk is a digital platform where commercial entities can join together in peer group communities to share, manage, reduce and transfer risk. While it encompasses insurance with an equal or better level of cover to the wider marketplace, InShare SMART Risk offers a considerably more comprehensive propostion that focuses more holistically on mitigating business risks and reducing their frequency and severity. This uniquely multifaceted approach is one of the things that really sets InShare SMART Risk apart.
Another distinguishing factor is that each community is totally bespoke: whether it’s a housing association, a group of hair salons, or a collective of yacht owners, the community platform is structured specifically around prevalent risks for their particular business sector. The members of each community own their platform and they (not imprersonal global insurance providers) decide how to manage and distribute funds.
It’s a radical approach but it makes so much sense. How did Gareth and his team come up with the concept?

”After two decades of providing support to and consulting with the insurance sector, I got really interested in the technology behind it,” he explains. ”’InsurTech” became a bit of a buzzword with myriad solutions coming to market but, to my mind, these largely failed to achieve what they set out to do. There was a real opportunity to disrupt the insurance market for customers’ benefit and this simply didn’t happen at any meaningful scale and I found this frustrating.”

He continues: ”Although insurance underpins pretty much every single thing that happens in society every single day, there remains very little customer engagement around it. Let’s face it: who gets excited when their insurance renewal arrives?! I became convinced that I and my colleagues could create something that would serve businesses, and potentially domestic consumers, far better. We know there’s an appetite for this and that business can be done in this way.”

That was in the middle of 2018. Two years on, InShare SMART Risk has a fully refined proposition, a highly experienced leadership team, a finely-tuned ditigal platform, processes and documentation, and a successful initial funding round under its belt. The company is templated for growth and ready to rollout. All expectations are that it will scale rapidly.

InShare SMART Risk was one of the first companies to participate in the Somerset Catalyst programme. Funded by the Somerset councils, Somerset Catalyst is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county. Its goal is to create the necessary positive culture, support system and infrastructure to create economic growth that will ripple across all its communities and put Somerset on the innovation map of the UK.

Alex Parmley, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council, explains: “Here in Somerset we know that there’s enormous potential to create a vibrant business community and this is key to achieving economic growth throughout the region. This is why we are committed to putting the support in place to help businesses get off the ground and reach their potential here. Somerset Catalyst is a fundamental part of this work.”

In starting out in business, Gareth took the view that, if there was ever an opportunity to learn and to understand different perspectives, he would take it. This led him to attend the first Somerset Catalyst session in 2019.

Reflecting on the experience, he said: “The mix of businesses at Catalyst was incredibly interesting and there were no shrinking violets! Everyone that attended was happy to speak up, give perspectives and get involved and I found it really refreshing that the day was structured in such a way that we all had licence to do so.

“Although I had a pretty good grasp of the business we were creating, the big take-away from this event for me was the importance of focusing on the key elements of our proposition and its immediate deliverables when in front of a potential investor or customer, rather than any longer-term vision. The Catalyst workshops changed my attitude from ‘what should I say in a 40-minute presentation?’ to ‘what do I need to get across in a 5-minute conversation?’. Crystalizing our message and articulating our vision in this way has been so important in getting us to where we are now, and it’s had a really positive impact on our management approach too.”

Does Gareth have any advice to others considering starting a business? “I think it’s all about focusing on what you want to do with your business. Somerset Catalyst can be incredibly beneficial but if you go into it without a clear idea of what you want to do, you won’t get the most out of it. I suggest that if you have a business concept, refine it to the point when you can do a 90-second pitch before you embark on Catalyst. Going in with this clearly formulated idea in your mind will mean that you are more likely to come out with valuable, transformative advice and connections to people that can support you and accelerate your business to the next level.”

Yumello

From the Atlas Mountains to Harvey Nichols

“When we moved to the UK from Morocco, we were looking for a new experience and there’s no doubt we have achieved this! We never dreamed that, within five years, we would be running a successful business,” explains Founder and Director Omar El Hajji.

“We were surprised to see so many North African flavours available in stores but there was nothing on the shelves that represented the experience of North Africa: the distinctive flavours, vibrant colours, the authenticity of it all were missing. That’s when we started creating a unique range of nut butters and taking these to local markets. It was a hobby at first but, seeing the positive reaction from customers, we decided to make the transition into a fully-fledged business.

It was not long before the company’s capsule collection of premium, Atlas Mountains inspired nut butters captured the attention of buyers at Harvey Nichols. This proved to be the springboard for a flood of positive interest from food writers and other retail outlets. Now, all products in the range have been awarded prestigious Great Taste Awards.

There’s an undeniable authenticity about Yumello. Rather than using palm oil in its formulation, it sources argan oil from small Berber women cooperatives in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. This is complemented by a hero ingredient from the same region – dates, for example. All manufacturing partners in the supply chain are chosen to minimise the environmental impact of their activities and all product packaging is 100% recyclable. Even the product labels have been cleverly designed to reflect the mountains, the sea and the bright colours of the Moroccan region which inspire the range.

Omar comments: “Sometimes, achieving our socially and environmentally responsible goals when we’re also working to achieving a profitable enterprise is a hard balance to strike, but we are committed to positively influencing every element that’s under our control. These principles mean that there’s a small price premium, but our customers understand the importance of what we’re trying to achieve and, because the product is so utterly delicious, they see this as a tiny price to pay.”

Yumello was one of the first companies to participate in the Somerset Catalyst programme. Funded by the Somerset councils, Somerset Catalyst is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county. Its goal is to create the necessary positive culture, support system and infrastructure to create economic growth that will ripple across all its communities and put Somerset on the innovation map of the UK.

Alex Parmley, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council, explains: “Here in Somerset we know that there’s enormous potential to create a vibrant business community and this is key to achieving economic growth throughout the region. This is why we are committed to putting the support in place to help businesses get off the ground and reach their potential here. Somerset Catalyst is a fundamental part of this work.”

Omar and Co-Founder Esther didn’t know quite what to expect when they applied for Catalyst, but they thought that it would be interesting exercise, if only to get some new perspectives from people outside their own business. The ability to work alongside other like-minded people and to challenge the assumptions they had been making were key objectives for the pair at the outset.

Omar reflects: “Catalyst is unlike any other programme. It’s highly interactive and challenging too. Rather than just sitting listening, we really learned a great deal because it was us actually doing the work. We separated out and got to work with other businesses, all challenging each other’s ideas and expectations. The mentors, David and Peter, were instrumental – they helped us create a workable ‘value proposition’ for our business and we made a number of changes as a result. I would 100% recommend it to anyone running an early stage business.

“There’s no doubt the Catalyst programme is a big part of our success story so far. We have grown every month for the last twelve months and we are now in a position to look for investment to accelerate our growth and build our team. We still have a long way to go but we’ve got a strong brand synonymous with authenticity, adventure and colour, a raft of positive feedback from people who really know the artisan food business, and the support of business experts through Catalyst.”

Any advice to others considering or running a business in Somerset? “Yes,” says Omar. “Talk to others about your business and keep learning. Always listen and keep your mind open. Sometimes it’s hard not to take things personally if your work is criticised but all this means is that your audience isn’t understanding what you’re trying to do and this signals a problem with your communications.

“Being open, assessing and reassessing what’s working and what’s not is an essential part of running a business. There’s a tendency to focus on what’s not working but it’s really important to also recognise what is going well so that you can capitalise on this.”
Yumello has taken Omar and Esther on an unexpected and wonderful business adventure from cooperatives in the Atlas Mountains to world-leading London retailers, but there’s no doubt that their commercial success journey has only just begun.