LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Frank Perkins, CEO and Founder of inari
LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Frank Perkins, CEO and Founder of inari
Insurtech Founder and CEO, Frank Perkins launched inari in 2017 to help legacy system-based insurance companies digitally transition. Insurtech Insights caught up with him to find out more. 

Frank Perkins is the CEO and Founder of the Barcelona-based insurtech, inari, a core technology infrastructure provider for the global insurance and reinsurance industry – and has been instrumental in revolutionising the insurance and reinsurance industries since the company’s launch in 2017. 

inari aims to modernise outdated systems and significantly enhance efficiency for insurers and reinsurers. Perkins, leveraging his extensive industry expertise, has developed a cloud-based policy administration system tailored for insurers, reinsurers, Managing General Agents (MGAs), and Lloyd’s syndicates.

The insurtech’s innovative system encompasses three core products: a bordereaux management system, an insurer/MGA administration system, and a reinsurance administration system. These products offer modern core technology infrastructure that improves operational efficiency, provides better data insights, and enhances system connectivity.

Tell us about your journey into insurtech and what your role as CEO of inari involves?

My career started over 20 years ago. I have always worked in technology and consider myself as a technologist. I started in the telecommunications industry and from there I worked in defence and fintech before settling in insurance, where I started in 2006 at HCC Global (now Tokio Marine HCC).

In 2010 I co-founded ANV which started out small and ended up having several MGAs, managing agencies and a few Lloyd’s syndicates which we sold in 2016. I had a quick stint as a VP of Data Science at a fintech company until I decided to move ahead with an idea I had been working on for some time, which eventually ended up being inari!

As CEO of inari my job is to ensure our vision, strategy and execution are carried out working closely with our tech, product, commercial and back-office teams and help our executive team with the different decisions that we need to make as we drive the company forward.

The existing systems lacked this functionality and often required manual data entry, which was inefficient. The output generated was primarily directed towards data lakes or warehouses for reporting purposes. I saw this as a missed opportunity in an industry that thrives on innovation.

Frank Perkins

Why did you launch inari? 

There were a couple of factors that sparked the idea for inari. In mid-2016, I built the first prototype, and the motivation stemmed from my observations over the past decade in the insurance industry. 

I felt that there were certain aspects missing, particularly in terms of technology options. While there were plenty of solutions for core technology like underwriting dashboards or policy administration, they did not quite align with what I envisioned. I wanted a platform that was not only user-friendly, but also seamlessly interconnected with various data sources and other insurtechs. 

The existing systems lacked this functionality and often required manual data entry, which was inefficient. The output generated was primarily directed towards data lakes or warehouses for reporting purposes. I saw this as a missed opportunity in an industry that thrives on innovation. Thus, the building blocks for inari were laid out — a combination of recognising a gap in the industry, experiencing some pain points, and having a vision for a solution.

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What are inari’s core aims, purposes, and how does it differentiate itself in the marketplace?

The inari product suite revolves around four key concepts. Firstly, we focus on heavy lifting through automation, which frees up valuable time for our users. Secondly, our systems prioritise interconnectivity, seamlessly integrating with various applications and data sources. Thirdly, we prioritise ease of use, incorporating design elements from other industries to minimise the need for extensive training. Lastly, our approach to data is robust, allowing for granular information separation and movement across different timeframes. These elements constitute our unique selling propositions: automation, efficiency, interconnectivity, data availability, and ease of use.

We are commoditizing high end features and functionalities making them available for everybody, bringing in concepts around ease of use, integration and agility common in other industries to our platform and making easy the process of managing risk looking at it from a fresh angle and not replicating, with nicer front ends, the same way of approach risk management as we have done in software for the last 20 years.

Starting inari in Barcelona has provided a strategic advantage, especially in terms of talent acquisition. The city boasts excellent universities and tech colleges, nurturing a vibrant community of tech and product professionals.

Frank Perkins

Why did you choose to base yourself in Barcelona? 

I moved to Barcelona from the UK when I was 12 years old. My father was retiring, and as my mother is Catalan from Barcelona, the family chose to relocate to the city from the British countryside.

I was not too keen on the move in the beginning as a youngster that loved playing rugby and cricket but very soon after moving, I started to enjoy the experience of living in a different country.

Things like having to learn two additional languages quickly (Catalan and Spanish), being exposed and integrating with a new culture, making new friends and also being in a city that has also grown since the Olympics has been especially enriching.

The city has seen a massive boom in the last 10 – 15 years in the startup and tech scene, often featuring in the top cities to start a company, with a very vibrant community both locally and from around the world.

How has Inari benefited from being based in Barcelona?

Starting inari in Barcelona has provided a strategic advantage, especially in terms of talent acquisition. The city boasts excellent universities and tech colleges, nurturing a vibrant community of tech and product professionals. What’s remarkable is the diverse mix of talent, not just from Barcelona or Spain, but also from various countries, creating a rich ecosystem for innovation. We have been fortunate to tap into this deep talent pool.

Other great advantages include the lifestyle here which lends itself very organically to having a great work – life balance, quality of life, culture, gastronomy, and entertainment which are very attractive value propositions.

We have been able to mix together seasoned professionals in the insurance, reinsurance, product, tech, and back-office departments with staff earlier on in their careers with that same hunger, drive and spark to innovate in our industry and watching everybody’s growth over these years has been incredibly rewarding. 

Another thing that has been key for us is talent retention. We have worked really hard to make our company culture not a policy, but a very important part of our DNA. Whereas talent retention is around a year to a year and a half in Barcelona our average retention is in excess of four years.

Given the opportunity, I would undoubtedly choose Barcelona again for any future ventures with a tech component.

What were the main challenges you faced during launch, especially considering you were entering a relatively small and niche market like insurtech back in 2017?

There were several challenges we encountered, and many companies can likely relate. Firstly, we were building insurance technology in a highly regulated industry, based in a country where insurtech was not the primary association with Barcelona. 

The initial hurdle was overcoming the perception that Barcelona was synonymous with football and tourism, rather than technology and innovation. Despite our team’s extensive experience in insurance and reinsurance, establishing credibility from our location was a significant initial challenge. This required a lot of communication and engagement with potential clients.

Another challenge common among technology companies, particularly in their infancy, is the transition from focusing solely on technology to delivering tangible products and features. 

At the outset, when you lack clients and traction, discussions often revolve around the technology itself, its possibilities, and potential. However, as you progress and gain clients, the conversation shifts towards the product and its practical applications. This transition is crucial, and many companies struggle with it. Adaptability becomes paramount during this phase as you navigate the dynamic market landscape.

Additionally, managing the equation of time and money is critical, especially for young companies. You have a finite amount of runway, and efficiently allocating resources while meeting milestones is essential for survival in the startup landscape.

I joke sometimes that we are late bloomers as the seed round arrived in year six, [but] it actually arrived at the right point in time in our journey.

Frank perkins

How did you fund the company?

We were primarily self-funded for about the first five years. It was a mix of the investment of the founding team, some industry veterans with excellent track records and the support of a family office, all of them absolutely committed to bringing innovation to our industry and their support in all aspects has been crucial in building up the company.

In addition, we have accessed different innovation grants both from the Catalan and Spanish governments as, as I mentioned before, there are not many insurtechs in the peninsula and our mission of being natively global, helping improve a massive industry and doing it with advanced technology is something that excites them also.

We have focused initially on growing the company with these resources, and more importantly, getting our product out to market quickly and generating revenue – which we had been able to do only 12 months after starting the business.

Now that the vision has matured and we have product market fit, the next step with the recent Seed funding round led by Caixa Capital Risc is to now start our journey to grow the business more and take ourselves to the next stage in our growth. 

It has been a great validation regarding our vision, product, and culture to have the trust of these partners and although startup life shows you that the journey will not always unfold as you think, these are great steps as we gear up for a Series A round further down the line.

So, as I joke sometimes that we are late bloomers as the seed round arrived in year six, it actually arrived at the right point in time in our journey.

What do you perceive as the biggest barriers to scaling Insurtech in the current climate?

Interestingly, while the current economic climate poses challenges, particularly in the insurance industry, it also presents opportunities for optimisation and efficiency. For inari, the demand for our platform has increased as organisations seek solutions to enhance their operations. 

So, rather than feeling the pain of economic challenges, we are actually experiencing a larger sales pipeline than ever before. The key barrier we face now is internal – ensuring we continue to build the best product and effectively communicate its value to our clients.

Reflecting on inari’s journey, are there any aspects you would have handled differently? 

There are always things you would do differently with the benefit of hindsight. I think the thing that I would not change is our capability to react to situations as they emerge, which is normal for every new company, and do so quickly.

But, to answer your question and for the benefit of a mature organisation, we would have definitely brought sales and marketing into the mix much sooner in our journey for example. 

Now as a startup mentor this is advice I give to new companies – the ability to communicate your values, your progress, and your product and also commercialise it as soon as possible is as important as the product and tech stack itself so never underestimate having people with a commercial background in your founding teams.

What can we expect from inari in 2024/25? Any new developments or initiatives on the horizon?

We have some exciting developments lined up for 2024. Enhancements to our existing products, some of which will incorporate AI technology, promise to add significant business value, and a sharp focus on delivering tangible benefits to our clients. 

We are also planning to increase our insurance industry visibility with a significant marketing push. Our aim is not just to sell but to share the benefits of our products and bring transparency to our operations. 

Additionally, we have some exciting news that we will be able to share towards the end of the year.

Interview by Joanna England

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