South African startup Ctrl is on the verge of launching its end-to-end tech-enabled car and household insurance brokerage app to the general public after raising funding.
Launched in May 2017, Ctrl is a digital insurance advice app that enables users to request and accept quotes from different insurers, amend cover, and get advice from a semi-intelligent, AI-enabled chatbot.
It came about when three friends – Pieter Venter, Pieter Erasmus and Francois Venter – noticed the frustrations associated with insurance and the uncertainty people had about what they were and were not covered.
“We thought, surely there must be a better, simpler way. There must be a way to have more say and be less dependent on call centre agents, or brokers who expect you to fill out endless forms,” Erasmus told Disrupt Africa.
There wasn’t, so the three built Ctrl, an app offering consumers more control, creating a convenient shortcut to getting decent short-term insurance and solid advice to go with it.
“Between us, we have years of experience in the insurance, financial and tech industries, and we’ve seen first-hand how these industries are moving closer together. This is an exciting space to be in with a world of possibilities waiting to be explored,” Erasmus said.
Whereas in the past obtaining car and household insurance quotes was a cumbersome and time consuming process, involving comparing a great number of quotes from different insurers, the Ctrl app – acting essentially as a digital broker – changes all that.
“Clients want to communicate with their advisor or broker on their terms, which is in a text message format, and one should allow for that. These were the pain points we discovered in our research and tried to solve when we built the app,” said Erasmus.
The startup, which was one of those selected for the fourth edition of the Grindstone accelerator for South African scale-ups, has until now been in beta testing with just shy of 600 members, but is now preparing to launch to the public after raising funding from South Africa-based short-term insurer Santam last month in return for a 25 per cent equity stake.
Erasmus said Ctrl, which prior to the investment had been self-funded and makes money from statutory broker commissions as set by the Financial Services Conduct Authority of South Africa (FSCA), felt validated both in terms of its own product and the wider space after securing the funding.
“This confirms the importance of insurtech in the South African landscape and what it has to offer in a very matured insurance market,” he said.
Once its public launch has been successfully executed, the Ctrl team plans to focus fully on building a strong product and a loyal customer base before it even thinks of expansion.
“We current only serve the car and household insurance market in South Africa. For now we will focus on South Africa to ensure a solid product and service offering to our clients,” said Erasmus.
The startup’s major challenge thus far has been finding the right skills, and people willing to travel to the Western Cape city of Paarl, where it is based. Erasmus says an increasing number of people are now willing to relocate there, or at least commute.
“More so, we continue to be presented with new and exciting opportunities, and as a startup one needs to stay focus on the plan as well as initial objectives,” he said.