Episode 44: Full Transcript

[00:00:00.49] How do you bridge the gap there, and how can we do it in a way that it's been a big part of what we always wanted to do was keep the agents in the loop?
[00:00:07.67] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:09.26] - This is the Insurance Technology Podcast, where we bring interesting people from across the insurance ecosystem to discuss and debate technology's impact on the industry. Join us each episode for insights and best practices from industry stewards and tomorrow's innovators. Now, here's your host Reed Holzworth.
[00:00:30.65] REID HOLZWORTH: Welcome to the Insurance Technology Podcast. I'm your host Reed Holzworth. In this episode, I'm going to be interviewing Adam Kiefer. I met Adam Kiefer at the Big 'I' InsurTech Summit.
[00:00:41.99] I actually don't know Adam-- didn't know him then. It's kind of funny, I was taking the boat over here in Savannah, Georgia, and I was waiting for the ferry boat to go across the river to go in town.
[00:00:51.05] And true story, I was going to go over and smoke some cigars and have some beers, and I was talking to these nice folks, and then, there goes Adam, didn't even-- didn't know him. Came up, he's, like, hey, you're Reid. He's, like, I'm Adam.
[00:01:00.93] I'm, like, oh, hey, what's up? And I'm, like, you want to hang out? And he's, like, yeah, let's hang out. So we ended up spending the whole day together, and the both of us and Adam, is an avid cigar smoker, which is awesome, ended up smoking cigars and drinking some beers. And so, I got to know Adam really, really well prior to this interview.
[00:01:18.26] In this episode, we're going to hear about Adam and his life story and how he got into insurance and insurance technology, and then, we're going to hear a lot about Talage and what they're doing. It's really good stuff. You'll really find it interesting. Adam's an awesome guy. Stay tuned.
[00:01:35.04] Joining me today in bright, beautiful, sunny, a little bit cold, a little bit cold, Savannah, Georgia, here at the Big 'I' InsurTech Summit is Adam Kiefer, Founder and CEO of Talage. Adam, welcome.
[00:01:51.36] [LAUGHS]
[00:01:52.02] ADAM KIEFER: Reid, thank you very much.
[00:01:53.19] [LAUGHS]
[00:01:54.82] Glad to be here. In the States, we call it Talage, mostly.
[00:01:57.33] [LAUGHS]
[00:02:00.00] REID HOLZWORTH: Talage.
[00:02:02.13] ADAM KIEFER: But, yeah, excited to be here. Excited to be on the show and listen to quite a few episodes, and it's good to finally catch up with you and do this.
[00:02:09.06] REID HOLZWORTH: It's awesome. So, for the guest, Adam and I don't really know each other. We-- we met yesterday.
[00:02:14.49] ADAM KIEFER: Yesterday.
[00:02:15.00] REID HOLZWORTH: Kind of, ironically, we were taking a little ferry boat over, and we hung out. I'm, like, hey, let's hang out. And we hung out for a few hours. Talk-- talk, shop, smoke some cigars, drink some beers.
[00:02:24.99] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:02:25.35] REID HOLZWORTH: It was awesome, man.
[00:02:26.57] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, now we're best friends.
[00:02:28.15] REID HOLZWORTH: We are best friends. I think you are-- I know your whole life story. You know my whole life story.
[00:02:32.19] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, it's perfect. Godfather my children soon, and
[00:02:35.77] [LAUGHS]
[00:02:39.90] REID HOLZWORTH: No, it's really good. So, let's-- I mean, we're going to recap some of that conversation from yesterday.
[00:02:43.93] ADAM KIEFER: Absolutely.
[00:02:44.44] REID HOLZWORTH: So, tell me about you. Where did you grow up? What did you do as a kid? What were you into?
[00:02:49.99] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, I grew up-- we moved around a little bit when I was a kid. So, kind of, bounced around a little, which had its pros and cons that made us really tight with our family, which was great. And we ended up in California. And I was a big kid, obviously, it's a radio show, so you can't tell, but I am a generally a large person. And so--
[00:03:05.92] REID HOLZWORTH: How tall are you?
[00:03:06.91] ADAM KIEFER: 6'4, 6'5.
[00:03:07.82] REID HOLZWORTH: 6'4, 6'5, yeah, Jesus.
[00:03:09.58] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, running about-- put on the winter weight, so it's about 275 or so, trying to trim that down a little bit. But-- but a big guy by most standards, and so, got it in sports, obviously, kind of, bounced around with that a little bit, and kind of found my calling with football, probably, not unsurprising.
[00:03:23.41] And so, yeah, it's been a lot of time playing football as a kid. And shaped who I am, kind of, growing up in the locker room and for better or worse, spent a lot of time there, and kind of dictate the way I, kind of, run my life, so.
[00:03:35.14] REID HOLZWORTH: Did you-- when you were a kid, did you just wake up one day and say, I want to play football?
[00:03:40.12] ADAM KIEFER: No.
[00:03:40.75] REID HOLZWORTH: How did you come to that?
[00:03:41.77] ADAM KIEFER: So, I grew up in the Bay Area, mostly in California. And California had, I mean, this will shock the Texas listeners and other Southern state listeners, but there was a weight limit for football when you were under high school. And so--
[00:03:54.25] REID HOLZWORTH: No kidding.
[00:03:54.76] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah. So I couldn't play--
[00:03:55.99] REID HOLZWORTH: They were just worried about you hurting other kids?
[00:03:57.73] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah. I think that's the general thought.
[00:03:59.21] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow.
[00:03:59.47] ADAM KIEFER: And so, when I was in fifth grade, I could have played with the eighth graders, which would have been a disaster, right?
[00:04:05.29] REID HOLZWORTH: So you really tall in high school too. Like,
[00:04:07.39] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:04:07.84] REID HOLZWORTH: I mean, yeah, wow.
[00:04:08.89] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah. So I showed up the first day of freshman football, which was whatever, like three days after eighth grade ended, and I was, like, 6'2, 240 pounds or something like that. So, that was my last day of freshman football, I went to JV--
[00:04:20.60] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow.
[00:04:21.43] ADAM KIEFER: --the next day.
[00:04:22.24] [LAUGHS]
[00:04:23.20] So you're going to come back to JV tomorrow. Oh. And so, I mean, as a kid, like, I played a lot of sports. I wasn't really that good at any of them. And as I look back, I, kind of-- I, basically, played all the sports, like, an offensive lineman would have played the other sports, like, basketball. I was really good at blocking people out and rebounding and had the touch of nothing in basketball.
[00:04:40.63] REID HOLZWORTH: Were you any good at basketball?
[00:04:42.13] ADAM KIEFER: No. It was, like, I was, like, halfway decent, like, defensive player. But I was not, like, couldn't shoot, couldn't like Shaq, but not as big or strong.
[00:04:50.59] And so-- I, kind of, found football going into high school, and it was like, oh, like, this is where I was supposed to be the whole time, right? And so, yeah, I kind of found my calling in football and had a lot of fun with it. And like I said, it kind of shaped the foundations of who I am, and had the opportunity to play at the next level, ended up at the University of Nevada.
[00:05:08.44] I played football up there, and won a conference championship, ended up as captain. And so, we won a Bowl game. We went out to Hawaii, won a Bowl game out there, which was a blast.
[00:05:17.04] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, man. That's awesome.
[00:05:18.13] ADAM KIEFER: There's a lot of fun. It was a cool way to go through school.
[00:05:21.49] REID HOLZWORTH: So how'd you go from that to getting into our wonderful world of insurance and then insurance technology?
[00:05:26.87] ADAM KIEFER: Right. I think, like, all little boys, you grow up dreaming of being an insurance agent, right?
[00:05:31.06] [LAUGHS]
[00:05:33.00] A secret dream of mine, you know, wrap up football and get into insurance. But-- but, no, like, I was one of those players that wasn't a pretty good college player, wasn't quite, you know, All-American kind of guy. And so, I had a couple chances to get into the NFL.
[00:05:47.80] And so went to some camps, went to some tryouts, things like that, didn't pan out. And eventually, my parents, kind of, said, you're going to have to pay your own bills here, at some point, so, which was pretty quick, actually.
[00:05:59.73] REID HOLZWORTH: So, you were like sleeping on the couch. It was a big couch, though, a very big couch.
[00:06:02.79] ADAM KIEFER: Big couch. Big sectional. Yeah. So I needed a job, and actually, my girlfriend, at the time, her father, was a principal of an agency. And I should say my girlfriend at the time-- she's my wife now.
[00:06:16.38] But, yeah. Her father owned an agency. And so, he knew a couple of guys up in the Reno area who he had worked with in the past.
[00:06:22.99] And so, got in with them and just trying to parlay my whatever local fame I had from football into a producer career.
[00:06:30.42] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, no kidding. So, then, is your father-in-law still in the business?
[00:06:33.48] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, he is. Yeah.
[00:06:34.21] REID HOLZWORTH: So he's an agent in Nevada?
[00:06:35.62] ADAM KIEFER: Yup.
[00:06:36.13] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that's awesome.
[00:06:37.16] ADAM KIEFER: Yup.
[00:06:37.56] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. Yeah, I could see that. Yeah. So then, you became producer, you went to work for an agency?
[00:06:42.11] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, yeah. Started like a lot of producers, right? Like, taking the weird call ins on Friday afternoon, right? Like, somebody looking for some ridiculous coverage because they have some job tomorrow morning, right? Which was-- and there's so many, like, I was talking with one of our employees the other day, and there's so many things you learn in insurance.
[00:06:59.19] Probably true in all industries. But you learn them without realizing that they were valuable at the time, right? You're, like, this is dumb. And then, 10 years later, you're going, like, I'm glad I spent a lot of time doing that. Like, that actually helped.
[00:07:07.92] And so, we spent a lot of time, just, kind of, taking these weird inbound calls, and, kind of, prospecting small business owners and understanding the pains of buying insurance and all that stuff from them. Even before I even really understood what I was doing, right? And so, you know, like, understanding people, sometimes people need insurance at Friday at 6:00 at night, right? And what are your options for that if the agent doesn't pick up the phone and things like that?
[00:07:29.34] So it was kind of the seeds for challenge long before I even recognized them as the seeds for Talage, right? And so, yeah, it was-- I can't say it was always fun, but--
[00:07:38.66] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:07:39.26] ADAM KIEFER: I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. And it was a great agency to work for. And then, we got picked up by Wells Fargo, kind of, a weird transaction.
[00:07:46.86] And so, we went from working for a-- I mean, it was a lot bigger than a Mom-And-Pop, kind of, a regional, very, very independent agency to go into, a very non-regional, non-independent agency working for Wells. And so, learned a lot from both of them, kind of, good, bad, and indifferent, right? I mean, they all had, kind of, strengths and weaknesses in the way they ran their businesses.
[00:08:05.01] But, again, like, these little building blocks of regional agencies have the problems. Wells Fargo and the other big guys have basically the same problem, just a different scale, right?
[00:08:14.58] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:08:14.67] ADAM KIEFER: In terms of what they're actually doing there. And so--
[00:08:16.56] REID HOLZWORTH: What was that, like, just getting acquired at that age, like, being pulled into the monster? Like, that? Because they are huge.
[00:08:24.55] ADAM KIEFER: Huge.
[00:08:25.22] REID HOLZWORTH: Remember, like, around, like, what year that was? Like--
[00:08:27.84] ADAM KIEFER: It must have been-- God, it would have been 20-- 2008, maybe? Something, like, somewhere around there ballpark.
[00:08:37.90] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, they are crushing it back then.
[00:08:39.67] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, it was huge. And we talked about it a lot. Yesterday, I had the opportunity again come one of these things I learned without knowing I was learning it, but had the opportunity.
[00:08:47.02] They were solid early on. I think, earlier than some of the other agencies, some of the inefficiencies in the small business segment, so they were trying to build a call center up in Minneapolis and put all that together. And so, I was, kind of, the boots on the ground, mostly because I don't think anybody else wanted to do it at the time.
[00:09:04.16] But I was, kind of, running how they were rolling up the Nevada book, and what they were shipping off to Minneapolis and the pros and cons of a system like that, and how you drive efficiency. And it was one of those things where it's, like, it felt like a good idea. The idea of you got to make small business efficient, otherwise, it doesn't work, right?
[00:09:19.69] And so, again, like, another little kind of seed for what eventually became tired getting picked up there without even really knowing it.
[00:09:26.44] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that's pretty awesome. So, then, what happened there? What happened with Wells? And then what happened after that?
[00:09:33.35] ADAM KIEFER: So, well, I learned a lot from Wells really quickly, right? Like, words I'd never even heard of before. And so--
[00:09:38.14] [LAUGHS]
[00:09:40.27] This is a shorter episode. So we have to get into it later, but-- so I learned what a divestiture, which was not taught in the business classes I took. But-- so, eventually, the original entity that Wells had purchased on the insurance side divested from Wells Fargo because of some contract loopholes.
[00:09:59.44] And so, half the company actually split, and so, it was about 100 person operation in Reno, and it was bigger than that outside of Reno, but about 100 Reno. And they literally-- I mean, I can't verify this, but I imagine that the management team for Wells and the management team for what became LP insurance, I think, literally, sat in a room like kickball, and like picked teams. And 50 people went to Wells, and 50 people went to the new entity or old entity, whatever it is.
[00:10:25.90] And I was, actually, I was going through the MBA program at Wells. And so, I chose to kind of stick around on the Wells side of it because they were picking up the tab on my MBA, and so I finished up with Wells. And then-- yeah. Then, from there, I went to the carrier side, worked for Employers Insurance Work Comp Company out in Nevada and had a blast working for them.
[00:10:42.45] And, again, kind of, learned these different pieces. And it was really cool to kind of sit on the other side of the table, right? I spend five, six years on the brokerage side, and then, I spend another few years on the other side of the table talking about appointments and production and compensation.
[00:10:56.60] REID HOLZWORTH: What did you do at Employers?
[00:10:58.20] ADAM KIEFER: So I started out as just a territory manager. So I was running the Nevada territory. So I ran the territory there and then, did well enough where they promoted me to the Western region.
[00:11:06.89] So I ran all the sales the outside field sales staff for the Western region. So I-- from Texas to Nevada, California was its own region, because that's so big.
[00:11:17.20] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:11:17.51] ADAM KIEFER: So, yeah. Texas to Nevada was kind of my territory, and so I flew around every week on the road all the time and meeting with agents all over the place. And that was where-- that's really where the ideas for Talage kind of started to cement because, kind of, everything I learned at Wells, everything I learned at the regional agency before that, and then, kind of, melding that with talking to integrate independent agencies all over this country.
[00:11:37.94] And then, going people in Dallas, Texas, and Fort Worth, and Albuquerque, we're dealing with the same exact issues that Wells was dealing all over the place again, different scales sometimes but trying to figure out how to get-- how do you get better at small business. And you know this better than most people i talk to. At that time, and this is probably-- now, it's probably 2012, 2013, 2014, something like that.
[00:12:00.50] And the carrier is, like, finally starting to embrace some technology on the back end systems, right? Like putting in some predictive analytics and some automated underwriting systems and kind of the Genesis of, kind of, making it more automated on their end. But none of that kind of dragged through, right? Like, it sort of, kind of, dragged through in a portal, kind of.
[00:12:19.31] But, like, it wasn't really, you know? Then, you had this dichotomy of you had. The carriers who have now made small business, arguably, their most profitable line of business. But for the independent agencies distributing the product, small business was absolutely the least profitable line of business. And so, that's where-- as a sales manager, I'm walking in agencies, you know, big agencies all over the country going.
[00:12:39.83] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:12:40.22] ADAM KIEFER: And employers is very small business focused company. So I'm going in there saying, like, you guys need to write more $7,500, not even $7,500, $750 work comp policies. And they're, like, get out of my office, right?
[00:12:54.17] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Get out of here. What a waste of time. I don't want to do that shit.
[00:12:57.09] ADAM KIEFER: But, yeah, but if you write hundreds of them, yeah, but I'm not going to write hundreds of them, right? Like--
[00:13:00.47] [LAUGHS]
[00:13:02.36] REID HOLZWORTH: You see this application on my desk right now? Look at the premium.
[00:13:04.86] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, he's looking at half million dollar auto policy and it was, like, yeah, but what about these $1,200 work comps?
[00:13:12.80] REID HOLZWORTH: They're profitable, trust me. You make money on this shit.
[00:13:17.93] ADAM KIEFER: So that's really, I think, where, kind of, Talage, kind of, came to fruition was, like, there's got to be whatever not to be too cliche, right? There's got to be a better way how to handle this stuff and how do you how do you bridge the gap there, and how can we do it in a way that-- I mean, a big part of what we always wanted to do was keep the agents in the loop, right? We never thought not going to come out by names.
[00:13:39.17] But some of the other early ensured tags that were going direct, and they were cutting out the agency, right? Like that. I never believed that was the model. I never made any sense to me. I always felt like you needed an agent there at the end of the day. And so--
[00:13:49.07] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, so true. Especially on the commercial lines.
[00:13:50.90] ADAM KIEFER: Totally, totally.
[00:13:51.68] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:13:52.28] ADAM KIEFER: Not that there aren't ways to make the agents more efficient, right? Like, there's absolutely inefficiencies in the agency channel, that's not the point, but they can be better. But--
[00:14:00.63] REID HOLZWORTH: You're talking about this yesterday, it's, like, people don't realize how expensive that is too. And it's funny around that time when you were getting going, they it's like small commercial, micro commercial, nano commercial, whatever the hell people want to call it these days, right? It was.
[00:14:19.31] The big brokers didn't want to do it. They were over it. But guys like you and others, started coming out with solutions to help these brokers to sell small micro commercial much more efficiently.
[00:14:32.53] ADAM KIEFER: Yup.
[00:14:32.93] REID HOLZWORTH: And some of them-- some of them started to offload it still to other partners, like, Bold Penguin, these kind of guys, right? And others looked at it as a new revenue stream.
[00:14:42.67] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:14:43.01] REID HOLZWORTH: And that's still going on. It's still a thing. I mean, still these big brokers are, I mean, they're going after it now in a different way, leveraging technology to do so. Because it's so hard to not, right?
[00:14:55.16] ADAM KIEFER: It's impossible, right? I mean, especially with the general acquisition strategy, most of the bigger agencies where you're buying up shops that have that type of business, right? Like-- so, even, you know, every year, they could call out what they don't want in terms of small business or get rid of it or sell it off or whatever. But the next time they buy a shop, wherever, they're going to pick that back up again.
[00:15:13.80] And so, I think-- I think they're recognizing that you can't get rid of it. Nor do you want to, right? I think it'd be super sticky.
[00:15:18.89] It can really, kind of, be that, kind of, baseline revenue, right? Where it's just it just grows. I mean, the loss ratios, generally speaking, are good on that type of business, right?
[00:15:25.70] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:15:27.29] ADAM KIEFER: The big accounts, everybody loves big, and this is certainly not my thoughts on this, but, like, everybody loves big accounts because it drives numbers, and you know, it's big hits, and there's sexy wins. But, like, hurt when you lose one, like, they're hard to keep every year. It's a fight, you know. And the renewals because every agent in town is trying to get into the same accounts, and so--
[00:15:44.66] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, totally.
[00:15:45.23] ADAM KIEFER: You can really build a small kind of business empire on top of this little stuff. And then--
[00:15:50.44] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that's so true.
[00:15:51.08] ADAM KIEFER: Baseline. And then-- and then when you get those big ones, it's great, right? Like, but you're not so dependent on five accounts, right?
[00:15:57.26] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:15:58.13] ADAM KIEFER: A lot of producers who had maybe not five but have 20 accounts and that's all they have, and they, like, it's great.
[00:16:03.74] REID HOLZWORTH: It's, like, Yeah, it is.
[00:16:05.99] ADAM KIEFER: Until it's not right.
[00:16:07.22] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, yeah. That's not good until, yeah, a few of them, for whatever reason, decide to go, and do something else.
[00:16:12.80] ADAM KIEFER: Right. And as an agent, like, it can be, let's assume it's a great agent, they're doing everything they can, and they're doing a great job. That your big customer gets acquired by somebody, you lose the account, right? So there's a lot of ways to lose an account without doing anything wrong. So, I don't know.
[00:16:27.47] Yeah. That's how I learned, like I said, learned, kind of, that well, you can build a whole book on small business, and can really kind of be the foundation and the cornerstone of what you build as an agency.
[00:16:38.81] REID HOLZWORTH: A lot of these-- there's a lot of big shops that are now really focusing on small commercial and are crushing it.
[00:16:44.87] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:16:45.20] REID HOLZWORTH: Like, absolutely crushing.
[00:16:46.91] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:16:47.48] REID HOLZWORTH: They are. So tell the audience about your business--
[00:16:51.28] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:16:51.62] REID HOLZWORTH: --and how is your business different than others and elevator pitch on the company?
[00:16:59.27] ADAM KIEFER: We, so we're trying to coin the phrase. And if I see IVANS doing, I'm going to be pissed.
[00:17:07.38] REID HOLZWORTH: You heard it here first.
[00:17:08.15] [LAUGHS]
[00:17:09.75] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, you've been this, like, a submission management platform, right? The agency management platform, you got the policy management platforms on the back end with the carriers, right? And so we wanted to be the submission management platform and, kind of, own that front end piece of it, right?
[00:17:20.69] And we, kind of, make a bad joke that I want to own that one month a year where you're submitting the policy, whether it's a renewal, whether it's a brand new piece of business. Whatever you're talking to the carrier about issuing that policy, like, that's the piece of the pie we want to own, right? Like, we want-- generally, we want-- we need people, like, applied in Vertafore and Netsure, and whoever else to own the other 11 months, right?
[00:17:44.20] We want to run concurrently to those systems. And I think the agency management system is and should be, I haven't seen anything better, should be, kind of, the source of truth for an agency and everything should run out of there. And so, if we can run concurrent to that, that's where we want to be.
[00:18:00.44] And so, Talage is a submission management platform. We built the whole thing on connecting essentially APIs into the carriers. And so, it does the quoting and issuing binding depending upon the carrier. Put an asterisk on all that stuff, right?
[00:18:12.01] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, right. Totally.
[00:18:12.94] ADAM KIEFER: All depends on the carrier.
[00:18:14.02] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:18:15.49] ADAM KIEFER: But the idea is you can pull a lot of the same kind of multi carrier SEMCI, whatever acronym you want to use for it, right? Like being able to be more efficient with your time. And so, trying to build more automation into it where you can automate renewal cycles, you can have these small businesses get the kind of service they deserve, making sure you're getting the right pricing, right carrier with it all.
[00:18:37.47] But not doing away where your CSR is your producers are spending two hours or more re quoting an account every year. And so, that's the idea is streamline that small business cycle allow for better cross-sell opportunities do some of that thing in a more automated way where we can say, hey, we have a work comp and a general liability policy on the books. Because of that, I can almost guarantee we don't need to ask you any more questions to sell you a cyber policy, right?
[00:19:04.35] And so, you can automatically take the information from other policies, over cyber with it. Go back to the agency, they can offer it back to the business owner. If nothing else to cover their own, you know, that they're offering cyber, right? And hopefully, actually, driving new revenue into them from the cross-sell opportunities.
[00:19:20.19] REID HOLZWORTH: When you were at Wells, and you really got to learn the agency-- because you were at an agency and you were doing your thing, I expect you really learned how different all those agencies are.
[00:19:32.34] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:19:32.61] REID HOLZWORTH: And how they sell.
[00:19:33.54] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:19:33.88] REID HOLZWORTH: But there's like that commonality of leveraging a solution or solution that you built potentially to help automate, help with a lot of those tasks. It's funny, we were talking a little bit about this yesterday, but agents have a hard time still seeing that, adopting that, right? And-- and I remember what it was, Chip and I, on our podcast, we went off on this whole thing. Chip Bacciocco and the other podcast listeners, we were talking about-- he coins it, producer-- the producer availability challenge.
[00:20:09.24] ADAM KIEFER: OK.
[00:20:09.64] REID HOLZWORTH: What he says, and he's talking-- when he says that he's talking specifically around leads coming in and stuff like that, and then, not answering and being prompt and getting after it, right? When somebody calls them. Because a lot of them have a nice, big book, and it's-- they already have their core customers. Like you said, I got my 20 top customers, and you know, Jeff from Jeff's Construction Inc needs this thing, and I'm going to go, hang out with him and have lunch or whatever, right?
[00:20:34.60] But the challenge, really, is producers-- not producers, agencies, right? Adopting this type of stuff.
[00:20:44.63] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:20:45.02] REID HOLZWORTH: I mean, right? It's just it's the thing we talk about all the time.
[00:20:47.91] ADAM KIEFER: It's definitely a challenge, right? Like, and I don't think there's any insurtech or insurance software, like, if insurtech's not a cool word anymore--
[00:20:56.42] REID HOLZWORTH: Whatever, it's still cool. Come on, man. [LAUGHS] Pays my bills.
[00:21:01.91] ADAM KIEFER: Very cool. Try to tell my wife how cool it is all the time.
[00:21:04.55] [LAUGHS]
[00:21:05.33] She's not convinced
[00:21:07.01] REID HOLZWORTH: It's funny because the guy just came over here and was asking me what we do. And you know, I was explaining to people. And it's, like, oh, he's, like, yeah, really exciting stuff. That's how I ended because they just-- I just gloss over there.
[00:21:17.42] ADAM KIEFER: Like make insurance software. Oh.
[00:21:19.28] REID HOLZWORTH: They're, like, Oh, OK. Yeah, see you.
[00:21:21.41] ADAM KIEFER: I just switched recently, and my wife is making fun of me because people say, what do I do, and she'd be, like-- I hate saying that I'm the founder, the CEO, right? So I just say, I sell software, which is 100% true, right? Like, that is what I do for a job. So I say I sell software and they immediately like back off because he's like--
[00:21:35.20] [LAUGHS]
[00:21:36.41] You tell me-- if you say your CEO, like, they want to sell you something. Like, if I feel, like-- if I say I'm selling software, they're, like, don't sell me anything, right?
[00:21:44.32] REID HOLZWORTH: That's so true. That's so funny.
[00:21:47.23] ADAM KIEFER: But I got backed into a corner one time. I met this guy and he said, what do you do? I was, like, oh, I sell software. And he's like, oh, I'm an engineer. He's, like, I've actually been looking at getting into some software companies in town, and I was, like, oh, they're always hiring engineers, right?
[00:21:58.57] I was like, shit. I was like, well, like, we might be hiring. And he goes, oh, like, who do I talk to? And I was like, well, like me.
[00:22:06.01] Like, I do sell software that's true, but, like, I also do a couple other things.
[00:22:09.85] [LAUGHS]
[00:22:13.09] But, yeah, it's been fun. Anyway, what was the last question?
[00:22:18.46] REID HOLZWORTH: Just about--
[00:22:18.85] ADAM KIEFER: Oh, just agency adoption stuff, right? And I think agency are-- I think they're stubborn, right? And I think they're kind of set in their ways.
[00:22:25.85] And I think it's easy for especially established producers to get pretty comfortable in the way that they operate, and it's definitely appeal of a job where you can bust your ass for the first 20 years. And no, me-- no way, I mean, this to be offensive, but, like, you can, kind of, cruise for the other 20, right? You build up your book, and you can get to a point where you make it very comfortable lifestyle for you and your family without having to do a whole lot more.
[00:22:46.75] And so, I think you, kind of, have this older generation that's pretty comfortable, pretty set in their ways. And then, you have a newer generation that's trying to figure out exactly how they build their careers. And then, I think they, kind of, looping through the whole thing.
[00:22:57.96] You have this insurance agents have been under attack for the last 100 years, right? It's why organizations like the Big 'I' exist, right? Like, protecting agencies.
[00:23:06.15] And so, I think, insurtech came out real hard, whether on purpose or not, but, kind of, attacking the agent at first, right? Like-- and it was going to disrupt the agent, and replace the agent. The agent is going to die, and you know, they've been predicting the death of the insurance agent for 100 years, right? And so, I think there was some reluctance at first that InsurTech was competitive to the agencies.
[00:23:27.48] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, yeah, true.
[00:23:28.45] ADAM KIEFER: And so I think there's a little bit of reluctance at first with that. And there were a lot of people who are trying to do, kind of, a direct replace the agency thing, right? I think most of them have-- mostly not panned out, right?
[00:23:38.78] I think, to your point, like, people want an agent involved. And so, that's where I think we were a little bit different was-- from the jump, it wasn't, kind of, have this line about-- a lot of people were out there trying to make it easier to buy insurance. And then, where we wanted to focus on was making it easier to sell insurance, like, you focus it from the agency side of the table and really, kind of, help their problems.
[00:23:58.07] And then, we figured, we'd make it better for the business owner at the end of the day by doing that. But, mostly, we wanted to make it better for the agency. And so--
[00:24:04.07] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:24:04.46] ADAM KIEFER: I think there's reluctance in the agencies, and there's a lot of noise out there too, right?
[00:24:08.55] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, there's a lot of noise.
[00:24:10.28] ADAM KIEFER: You know, again, better than most people I talked to, like, some of it works pretty good, some of it doesn't work, as well, right? Like, I mean, there's a lot of noise, a lot of fluff. And so, for agents, I think the Big 'I' you know, the efforts that they're doing, where they can some of these other organizations where they kind of councils and things like that, right? Where you can kind of not test things out.
[00:24:28.61] But, like, why do they can vet it a little bit, going, like, all right. Like, we don't think IVANS is fully shit. Like, we don't think college is full of shit.
[00:24:35.63] REID HOLZWORTH: Right, totally.
[00:24:36.68] ADAM KIEFER: Maybe they don't call it the ones they do think is full of shit, but it's the least they can, kind of, endorse the ones they, like.
[00:24:40.64] REID HOLZWORTH: You talk to, but, yeah.
[00:24:42.08] ADAM KIEFER: Not publicly anyway.
[00:24:43.07] REID HOLZWORTH: And to be fair too-- after dinner, we have some cocktails that bar you were there. One of the guys was showing me photos of his 150 foot yacht.
[00:24:52.91] ADAM KIEFER: Yes.
[00:24:53.87] REID HOLZWORTH: You know what I mean? And it's, like, I mean, you know, it's, like, hey, you know what I mean?
[00:24:58.21] ADAM KIEFER: You want to sell more $100 policies?
[00:25:00.20] REID HOLZWORTH: You know what I mean? Right? You know-- and he's an older guy. I mean, you know he's looking to take his yacht around the world or whatever he's going to do.
[00:25:07.49] ADAM KIEFER: I got to meet him before I leave.
[00:25:08.39] [LAUGHS]
[00:25:10.07] REID HOLZWORTH: You know, so, I mean, to be fair. And it's, like, we look at this stuff as technologists and entrepreneurs and small business owners and whatnot. It's, like, why wouldn't you want to make it better? Like, drive more and drive more and drive more.
[00:25:22.10] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:25:22.37] REID HOLZWORTH: And I mean, dude, you know, like, that dude, he's got no boss. He's the boss,
[00:25:26.39] ADAM KIEFER: Nope.
[00:25:26.69] REID HOLZWORTH: You know, he's got a big ass boat and a big ass house and all the things, and
[00:25:30.16] ADAM KIEFER: Yup.
[00:25:30.41] REID HOLZWORTH: He's happy, you know? And--
[00:25:32.60] ADAM KIEFER: I think a lot of insurance is that way too. Like, even if you back up from the individual, right? Like, you go to the carriers, and like, I know you, you know, deal with the carriers a lot, and like, some of the things they do is crazy, right?
[00:25:42.00] But then you, like, look at their balance sheets, and it's like, well, it's not that crazy, right? Like everyone's making a lot of money, like claims are getting paid. Like, generally, insurance works, right?
[00:25:49.86] That's where a lot of these, kind of, insurtechs would come in that don't have insurance experience, I think, kind of, have this arrogant attitude, like, insurance is broken, right? Like, insurance is not broken. Like, it works, it functions. It's like, insurance is inefficient, like, that's probably true, right? But--
[00:26:03.34] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.
[00:26:04.95] ADAM KIEFER: But the idea that it's broken, I think is crazy.
[00:26:07.38] REID HOLZWORTH: It is crazy. We were talking about that yesterday how all these people come in and just like, oh, nobody knows what they're doing, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It works, and people make real money doing it. But it's-- look, there's a lot of things that can be fixed.
[00:26:19.65] ADAM KIEFER: Oh, of course.
[00:26:20.01] REID HOLZWORTH: Guys like yourself fixing these things. But I think that's every industry. When you get into it, and you really get into it, like, especially at the enterprise level, like, it's big, old, like, technology stuff,
[00:26:31.71] ADAM KIEFER: Yup.
[00:26:32.25] REID HOLZWORTH: Right?
[00:26:32.73] ADAM KIEFER: Yep.
[00:26:33.24] REID HOLZWORTH: I mean, especially an industry like ours, as old as it is, right?
[00:26:38.93] ADAM KIEFER: I remember-- and I love them. They're a great partner of ours and they're-- I won't pick on them because I'm going to pick on them a little bit. But I remember when we were getting started, and they were one of the first carriers we got on our platform, right?
[00:26:50.75] So we were going through this contracting process with them and everything. And at the time, they didn't even really what we were trying to do, right? They couldn't quite wrap their head around it. And so, I'm trying to explain it to them, and so, they're giving us some standard contract.
[00:27:01.91] They didn't even really make any sense for what we were actually trying to accomplish, but-- so I'm filling it out, and I sent it to them. And finally, they're, like, all right. We think we can do something with you, like, I think we get it. I said, OK. So I signed the contract, I filled it all out, sent it back to him, and he calls, and he goes, because you left the fax line blank on your contract.
[00:27:22.40] I was, like, God, send it back. Like, you obviously you still haven't figured out what we're trying to do. You completely missed the point. Like, give me back that contract. Like, let's keep talking through this because if what you got from me was I need a fax line, like, I severely misled you, right? Like--
[00:27:37.94] [LAUGHS]
[00:27:40.47] This is like shit. But it's a big old industry, right? There's a lot in here. I think you're absolutely right. Like, it's easy to pick on insurance because I think we know it and love it most of the time.
[00:27:49.62] And there's a lot of industries that do the exact same thing, and probably, maybe worse, right? You look at, I mean, there's all kinds of software coming into medical billing, and like--
[00:27:58.37] REID HOLZWORTH: Yup.
[00:27:58.53] ADAM KIEFER: --I mean, all kinds of stuff, right? Like, I mean, the way the systems aren't connected and all that kind of stuff, and it's not different than what we're trying to accomplish in insurance.
[00:28:05.21] REID HOLZWORTH: Give us some advice to InsurTech startup or a startup in general.
[00:28:11.57] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah.
[00:28:11.93] REID HOLZWORTH: From football to the agency to Wells to now, what you do. Just advice.
[00:28:22.46] ADAM KIEFER: I think it's patience, right? You know, and we still got a long way to go. But I think it's patience and perseverance.
[00:28:30.07] And you got to understand that as hot as you think you are, we're not going to call up-- we're not going to call up the idea that when we were just getting started, right? A couple guys on a laptop are going to walk into travelers and tell them that they've been doing everything wrong for the last 150 years, right?
[00:28:51.40] REID HOLZWORTH: People do.
[00:28:52.51] ADAM KIEFER: They do. They absolutely do. And travelers should throw them out every time, right?
[00:28:55.93] Like-- and so I think the patience and understanding that you're trying to make real change, it takes time sometimes. And we talked about this a little bit yesterday, kind of, the idea that you come up with a software company, you build a prototype, and somebody buys it for $100 million, right? Like, that has happened, but, like, it's very, very rare, right? Like, and so, like, you have to grind it out.
[00:29:13.24] And you know, what's your-- one of our first investors, I remember, he made a comment, he was like, we like to do a lot of vetting personally, like, because we're probably going to be working with you for the next 10 years, right? Like, that's kind of his attitude on it. And I, at the time, was, like, 10 years, like, please, like, this is going to take 10 months maybe, right? Like that.
[00:29:33.11] But we're seven years in, right? So, like, we're getting there. And so, you know, I think there's a lot of truth in that. And you got to be patient. You got to grind with it.
[00:29:40.34] And this, kind of, you know, you build Facebook in a dorm room and somebody buys it, like, that's pretty rare. And I think building a company, it's a lot of hard work. And even on the software side, right?
[00:29:50.93] Maybe it looks glamorous and romanticized from the outside, but it's just like building anything else.
[00:29:54.68] REID HOLZWORTH: Totally is.
[00:29:55.73] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, so I'd say patience and perseverance. And just an absolute, like, stubbornness and refusal to say no, right? To accept no.
[00:30:02.70] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, yeah.
[00:30:03.77] ADAM KIEFER: Not say no, say yes lots. But to accept no.
[00:30:07.28] REID HOLZWORTH: That's good feedback. So last question, what's your favorite drink?
[00:30:11.36] ADAM KIEFER: Favorite drink. I just recently moved to tequila.
[00:30:14.90] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, nice.
[00:30:15.56] ADAM KIEFER: Yeah, and so I've been doing tequila for about a year. And my wife.
[00:30:19.13] REID HOLZWORTH: Tequila's complex, man. Like, that's a rabbit hole. That's like rabbit hole like no other.
[00:30:23.24] ADAM KIEFER: Tequila, like, when we were in college, right? Tequila, you had Cuervo.
[00:30:26.66] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, yeah, totally.
[00:30:27.35] ADAM KIEFER: That was it.
[00:30:27.89] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, right. Yeah.
[00:30:29.53] ADAM KIEFER: They all, kind of, tasted not great. But, like, tequila has gotten a lot better, right? Like, it's, kind of, gone down the bourbon rab, you know, the path, where it's got a lot more complex. You get a lot of craft. People are doing different things.
[00:30:40.80] And so, yeah, I've been in tequila a lot. My wife keeps telling me that ice is not a mixer, but I disagree.
[00:30:46.43] [LAUGHS]
[00:30:49.05] I like tequila and ice, like, that's a mixed drink, right? It makes it sound better.
[00:30:53.42] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Well, hey, man. Thanks for joining.
[00:30:57.63] ADAM KIEFER: Thanks for having me. It's a lot of fun.
[00:30:58.92] REID HOLZWORTH: It was great.
[00:30:59.69] ADAM KIEFER: Appreciate it.
[00:31:00.50] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, it was good, man. And good luck with everything.
[00:31:03.80] ADAM KIEFER: Thank you very much. We'll see you out there.
[00:31:05.21] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Interesting, there's this common thread that we keep hearing across these episodes that people that come from the industry that solve real problems for this industry stick around in this industry, right? And so the ones that are out there, that are solving problems, that don't come from the industry, don't get mad at me, it's just a common thread that we're seeing here.
[00:31:33.70] But, hey. What a great guy. Adam's awesome. Wish him the best of luck. I really appreciate him coming on the show. In our next episode, we're going to be interviewing another person from the InsurTech Summit in Savannah, Georgia. Stay tuned. It's going to be awesome.