Women in enterprise: Disrupting the insurance industry with advancements in technology | TopMBA.com

Women in enterprise: Disrupting the insurance industry with advancements in technology

By Laura L

Updated March 8, 2022 Updated March 8, 2022

"I saw business professionals come together to innovate and experience the buzz of a new idea and I knew that was the path I wanted to pursue." Business Management graduate Val Yap is revolutionising the way we manage insurance policies.  

To mark International Women’s Day – celebrated on 8 March every year – TopMBA is celebrating the accomplishments of entrepreneurial women using their business degrees to run successful start-ups. 

Val Yap studied a master’s in Business Management at Imperial College Business School. Now, she’s CEO and founder of InsurTech start-up, PolicyPal.  

Val spoke to TopMBA about what it’s like to have founded a company as a woman, the challenges she’s faced and how her business school experience is helping to grow a successful start-up. 

Tell us about your company PolicyPal and what you do 

The idea for PolicyPal first came about when my family faced a series of adversaries. The experience made me realise the importance of having a well-organised folder for all my insurance policies. This in turn gave me the vision of building a digital platform to consolidate insurance policies, making them simple and accessible for everyone. 

One of the pain points we identified was that most people do not adequately understand their insurance policies. To tackle this issue, PolicyPal combines technology and insurance by providing a platform for users to buy, manage and claim policies from various insurance providers. This simplifies the process of managing different policies as it is common purchase plans from different insurance providers.  

By using a B2B2C model, we get to combine the expertise of insurers with our technology to create the best customer experience and solve the challenges of the traditional insurance experience. 

Our PolicyPal app has helped customers to track and manage over $2 billion worth of insurance coverage. It uses gamification to incentivise users into starting their financial learning journey, allowing users to play games or complete financial quizzes to earn credits that can be converted into rewards or cash.  

How did your business degree help you to disrupt and reshape your industry? 

I would say that the master’s degree was extremely important for honing the soft skills that helped me to become a successful entrepreneur. During my time at Imperial College Business School, I had many opportunities to meet people from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds. I was able to learn and reflect from different perspectives which has fostered my growth mindset.  

Not only that, but I had the opportunity to intern at a top firm to gain experience in my field. When working at a web development agency, I saw business professionals come together to innovate and experience the buzz of a new idea and I knew that was the path I wanted to pursue.  

When building PolicyPal, the FinTech industry was fairly new in Singapore, where I’m from. But I met more talented people from different fields all over the world and I had the vision of what PolicyPal stood for. So with the support of my networks and the inspiration from everyone I’d met, I had to be the one kick-starting the change. With my new business knowledge, I was ready to do that. 

I learned the fundamentals of management and the leadership skills needed to take on a management role in an organisation. Now I understand that being a leader is not about being in charge. It’s about being someone who can bring out the full potential of their team. Having open communication ensures that everyone can share their ideas and participate actively in discussions. I believe that there are no bad ideas, and that new ideas and solutions can come from everyone’s input.  

What challenges have you faced being a woman in business and how have you overcome these? 

A lot of people questioned the feasibility of my idea and approach. I had a new idea that would be disruptive to the norms of the insurance industry and that was something people felt was risky.  

One of the challenges I faced in proving the potential of PolicyPal was showcasing significant revenue, so I travelled to Vietnam to network with engineers who could build the minimal viable product (MVP) for the platform for us, making our proposal stronger. I also faced challenges in assembling an effective tech team as we struggled to gain enough applications for the position. But I managed to hire our CTO, KC Wong and from there we developed Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for the insurance policies and convinced our investors thanks to our ability to show people were signing up to the app.   

Learning to accept rejections and acknowledge feedback to improve are some of the most important things I’ve learned over the years. With the success of our PolicyPal app and product, we can achieve key milestones and expand beyond Singapore.  

In 2019, I wrote my first book called Balls Inc, where I shared the struggles and successes I’ve faced in my journey as a solo female founder in the tech and InsurTech industry. The purpose of the book is to encourage other women to enter the tech startup ecosystem and help them to navigate the daily struggles.  

Despite the challenges I’ve faced, I am thankful to have wonderful network of inspirational mentors who always offer me invaluable advice on scaling up my company and place trust in my abilities as a woman in leadership.  

What advice would you have for other women looking to make change through enterprise? 

If there was one piece of advice that I could give to all budding female entrepreneurs, it would be to ask yourself why you’re building the business and the problem you’re trying to solve. Figuring that out is the key to success and once you can believe in yourself and your capabilities, you’ll have the drive to make it happen.  

I found a mentor in the same industry who could share their experiences and aid in my personal and professional growth, which was invaluable. In the current landscape, information and market trends shift constantly and everyone needs to learn and adapt.  

This article was originally published in March 2022 .

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Written by

As Senior Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 

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