Today, we had an amazing learning experience in conversation with Dipali Trivedi, Co-Founder, and CTO of Everyday Life Insurance. In this discussion, Dipali took us through her journey as a South Asian woman entrepreneur in the insurance industry.
According to Dipali, there are 3 major levels when productizing your service:
This is the first level where customers mostly need to have direct contact with the consultant or adviser to access the service. However, service businesses do not have a distinct competitive advantage. Because it’s all about operational efficiency, consumers would simply choose which provider has the lower costs and better quality.
Dipali agreed that for consultants and trainers, creating self-paced online versions of their training materials can be an effective method of productizing their services. However, such business owners must also consider the effects of personal value. Some services like therapy have great personal components, hence care must be taken to still maintain the personal value while productizing.
For other forms of service businesses, creating a product allows them to drive innovation with their features. These products also help to strengthen the brand image in the market. The third stage is the Platform.
Beyond turning a service into a product. Dipali explained that the last stage is creating a platform. So, instead of being a service company, you can be a platform where individuals rendering the service and consumers can do business. Dipali cited Uber as an example of a platform business that serves as a meeting point for drivers and commuters.
According to Dipali, entrepreneurship was always her dream. However, leaving the relative certainty of her job for entrepreneurship was not an easy decision. The initial spark came after listening to an interview featuring members of a retirement home. Their experiences motivated her to decide that her senior years will not be spent asking “what if”?
When Dipali was seeking life insurance she was advised to buy three different policies in a concept called layering. After doing some research she discovered that she could not get a flexible life insurance policy that matched her needs in the US.
Essentially, Everyday Life Insurance came from Dipali’s pain point. After lots of research, she discovered that insurance companies are far behind in incorporating consumer-friendly technology into their processes. This formed the core of Everyday Life Insurance.
Insurance and financial services are highly regulated industries, which makes new entries challenging. Also, people seeking life insurance need to actively approach agents with limited time to make consultations. For upper-class individuals, this may not be a challenge. However, middle-income families may find the whole process inconvenient.
Everyday Life Insurance is a digital insurance agent that is accessible anytime. It also saves the clients up to 80% of what they would spend on traditional coverage by recommending the best flexible policies.
Dipali explained that Everyday Life Insurance uses various marketing channels — Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Blogs. SEO and other forms of content marketing. Social medial platforms like TikTok also serve as opportunities to share their content.
She also noted that their marketing methods are mostly based on the fact that Everyday Life is a B2C business. The approach would be a little different for B2B.
Getting the word out through influencer channels is also relevant, according to Dipali. When known financial platforms write about you, it makes potential clients more confident in using your service.
Dipali’s principal method for building culture is leading by example. Ownership of one’s actions goes a long way in making employees comfortable in sharing their thoughts.
Even when a process or strategy fails after several weeks of effort. The leader should let the team know that they made suboptimal decisions and encourage them to learn from the experience.
Another crucial aspect of building the culture, according to Dipali, is diversity. Even though the diversity of age, race, gender, and other demographics is important, there’s more to it. Because the potential clients are so diverse, it is essential to have a diverse workforce to truly understand customer needs.
There should also be a diversity of thoughts and personalities.
Advice to Women of Color in Leadership
Dipali’s greatest counsel to women in leadership is to never fail to be assertive. It is true that assertive women founders and leaders could be tagged “difficult to work with” and men with similar traits are considered “decisive or driven”. Even with such descriptions, assertiveness is an essential factor in determining who reaches their goals. If you run a startup, you must be willing to demand 150% from every team member.
As a person who came through the academic pipeline, Dipali was not familiar with rejection, as she was always a top student. However, as an entrepreneur, she understands that you may have to go through lots rejections before getting your first nod. Hence, she advises women entrepreneurs to be open to feedback, but to not be discouraged when it’s negative.
As a woman from the Asian culture, Dipali was taught to never brag. So, she, like many other Asian women, struggled with talking about their work and capabilities on LinkedIn and other networking platforms. Women need to be more confident and optimistic when looking for opportunities as well. In her words, “you many not brag about your work, but at least you can be your own cheer leader”.