It’s a great time for start-ups to raise funds, says Policybazaar chief executive

SoftBank-backed insurance aggregator raised $761m in an IPO in November

Yashish Dahiya, co-founder and group chief executive of Policybazaar, advised entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funds to be patient. Leslie Pableo / The National
Powered by automated translation

It’s a great time for start-ups to be raising funds, says Yashish Dahiya, co-founder and group chief executive of insurance aggregator Policybazaar.

“If entrepreneurs have identified a problem to solve, even though they are not fully clear about how they will do it, it’s a good time to try to attempt it,” he said at the TiE Global Summit for entrepreneurs in Dubai on Wednesday.

“Entrepreneurship is a much better option than being in status quo in a large company. With the kind of change we are witnessing now, it’s hard to decide whether big companies are more stable than start-ups,” he added.

Entrepreneurship is a much better option than being in status quo in a large company
Yashish Dahiya, co-founder and group chief executive of Policybazaar

PB Fintech, the operator of Policybazaar, raised about 57 billion rupees ($761 million) in an initial public offering in November this year.

Policybazaar, founded by Mr Dahiya in 2008, pioneered comparison shopping in life, health, auto, travel and property insurance in India. The online insurance marketplace, backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Tencent, among others, raised $75m to fuel its expansion in the UAE and the Middle East in March of this year.

Sharing his tips for success in the entrepreneurial space, Mr Dahiya said: “Always be on time — never early or late, have depth in your team/management, build a family culture at work and do not have an option to give up.”

He also advised entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funds to be patient.

“Don’t expect every person you meet to believe your story. An investor cannot commit funds to everybody. Keep trying.”

However, Mr Dahiya said he worried whether parts of his team would turn complacent and lackadaisical. Sometimes you think you have won when the race is not over, he said.

“Once you are past the struggling phase, you emerge a different person overcoming your fears and you can look at the future differently,” the chief executive added.

Asked what drives him every morning, Mr Dahiya said: “Very few people have an opportunity to make an impact. That possibility is what drives me.”

Talking about the disrupters to watch for, he said the role of technology is passé in every market segment and this is the age of data.

“You need to leverage data to create a differentiating factor. Consumers tell insurance companies so much about themselves. Since we are data-rich, it’s fairly straightforward to analyse that data,” Policybazaar’s chief executive said.

The insurance aggregator plans to house its tech and data analytics businesses in the UAE — where it has been operating for the past four years — and use it as a hub “because the ease of doing business here is very good”, Mr Dahiya said.

“We want to help other insurance players to leverage this data. That’s how we plan to go international.”

There is a deep need for insurance in India, unlike Europe, where social security is already very strong, he said.

Providing that type of aspirational social security will not be realistically possible for the government in a country as vast as India in a meaningful time frame of 10 to 15 years, Mr Dahiya added.

“Consumers’ engagement with insurance is very low. That is reflected in the lower penetration levels and not-so-great products being sold,” he said.

“Since consumers spend a lot of money on insurance, they would do well to research it a bit more and buy products that really add value to them. The campaigns we have been running for the past 13 to 14 years are geared towards increasing consumer awareness and encouraging them to buy the right product after doing extensive research.”

Policybazaar is growing “like we were when we were a baby company”, the founder said. The insurance aggregator accounts for about 10 per cent of health insurance business in India and about 25 to 30 per cent of life insurance business, he added.

“Our health insurance market share is probably growing at 3 per cent to 4 per cent every year,” Mr Dahiya said.

Updated: December 16, 2021, 6:52 AM