Sybille vs Starbucks: Size and InsurTech

Coffee and the smell of fresh bread
It is Sunday morning and I am thinking about Sybille, Starbucks and scale. I am asking myself if small firms will be decimated by InsurTech. I am starting to believe they won’t.
Let me explain by way of croissants. Sybille has the small bakery on my street.  She owns it, she runs it. She gets up at 4 AM to bake the bread and croissants that I get at 7 when she opens. She has started to serve coffee. Straight up. No cute drawings in the steamed milk. Sybille doesn’t do cute. Her place has sacks of flour along the wall and Sybille looks like she got in a fight with one. She has flour all over her. But that is what I come for. This is a bakery and Sybille is a baker. She is personally involved in every aspect of what she makes and sells. If she has a bad day, I can tell. I come here because what I get is deeply personal and authentic. For me, she has Starbucks beat hands down.
This past week
I recently spent half a day planning a project together with a small insurance brokerage. Call them DR. DR has something in common with Sybille. Both are small compared to the other players in the space. Both survive by providing deeply personal service to clients.
Later, I was invited to join all the employees in a celebration. We were celebrating the completion of a second wing of their offices. Rather than being squeezed out by the majors, the company is expanding. DR thrives by being innovative and agile. Let me give you an example.
A while ago, another technology was making waves. It was called the World Wide Web.  DR realized things were going to change. But they didn’t stop there. They understood that a good web-address was going to be prime real estate. They scooped up the perfect “dotcom” domain name for their business before the majors realized what was happening. Big companies have since then offered them bundles of money for the domain.
And now, they are embracing InsurTech. Believe me, they “get” it. My guess is the Sybille and DR will be around for a while.
/Richard Tanimura