Tim Hardcastle is the co-founder and CEO of Instanda. Launched in 2012, it has created tools that let insurtech companies create products without specialist coding knowledge.
It does so with a combination of pre-built product libraries that can be adapted for specific insurance providers. Its clients include Atlanta, Standard Bank and Hamilton Fraser.
In June last year, Instanda raised nearly £37m to fuel its international expansion.
This is an extract from Tim Hardcastle’s interview (https://www.uktech.news/news/founder-interviews/instanda-founder-20230811).
What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?
Be clear on the resources you have as a founder. Savings, equity in a property to borrow against, family (parents and in-laws may be more likely to have disposable capital) and friends who believe in you and are prepared to back you. This all should be thoroughly explored before you look at external funding sources.
Funding options via banks or debt are very limited as are pre-revenue venture funding options unless you have a previous track record.
The key: get revenue and build momentum, bootstrap for as long as you can, then go for seed funding via angels or specialist seed VCs.
What’s a common mistake that you see founders make?
In 2021/22 over 200 companies were incorporated every day. Not all were startups but for those that were I admire all founders, as starting a business is a brave step to take.
Sadly, though over 50% fail within two years. Looking specifically at technology startups, the current funding environment has exposed frailties in the business model of many startups.
Founders need to create not just a business that has a great product-market fit but also speaks to the essence of sound, resilient business – namely getting to profitability and cash generation.
How do you motivate your team?
We have a clear vision and purpose. It is fuelling for our teams but not enough. Our culture is open and transparent and based around our core values. It encourages and supports challenge, dialogue, and collaboration. It’s a fundamental – when people feel they make a difference it’s motivating and rewarding.
Our agile ways of working engender daily real-time interactions at the team level all the way up to monthly all-hands company meetings.
Our EVP [employee value proposition] covers career progression, skills, and knowledge training through to consistent and regular two-way feedback. We run a regular EOS, so we know where motivation levels stand.
We develop and stretch ourselves, so we organise events such as a day planting trees through to life moment events where we take a couple of days out to experience something new and challenging that take our teams out of their comfort zone.
Excluding your sector, which nascent technology holds the most promise?
Quantum computing and bio innovation. Although both have rich histories, real bounds in advancements are only just emerging in both areas, which together with AI, will create a new world of possibilities across all aspects of society. It is hard to predict where it will take us and arguably, we are not fully equipped to cope with new capabilities as typically regulation for example falls behind technology advancements.
Beyond this question though is where we start to envisage a future where humans are not the smartest ‘entities’ on the planet.