Jason Stockwood is the CEO of Simply Business the UK’s largest business insurance provider which was launched in 2005. When Jason joined the company he wanted to create an innovative, agile entrepreneurial culture, helping create an atmosphere that employees would want to work in and one that can help serve their customers better.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him, see what Jason had to say below:
I spent most of my life until I was 30 following my instincts and just doing things that I found interesting or personally fulfilling. I went to school on a scholarship in America, worked at Disney World in Florida, went on a Kibbutz in Israel, worked as a holiday rep in Greece and studied Philosophy at Bolton University. The travel was educational and the education was fun; both set me up with the intellectual curiosity, tools and the drive to make the most out of every day.
- Why did the move into the insurance industry interest you? Do you see a market you can disrupt here much like the travel and dating industries you previously worked in?
It was based on two insights. Firstly I wanted to work in another industry that I knew nothing about so I could feed my own curiosity and personal development and secondly I saw the opportunity to disrupt a £6bn market where technology has up until now had little to no impact.
- How do you keep your company staying flexible & adaptable enough to keep ahead of the game, as you grow?
It’s a cliché because it’s true but it’s all about hiring great people and then getting out of their way. We’ve got an entrepreneurial management team who are all functional experts who believe in Agile/Lean methodologies as the most productive and fun ways to work. If you have those things you will create value for everyone.
- I know that you promote the entrepreneurial spirit in the company; why is this and how do you think it helps the business?
For a few reasons but mainly that in growth businesses, you need to have an agility to react and respond to the journey you are on. It’s not simply moving things from A to B like in large corporates. If there’s no one going before you there’s no one to follow, so you need the right entrepreneurial spirit in the business to find the way and define how to get there.
Entirely selfishly, I find it a more interesting way of working as well. It allows for creativity and inspiration from everyone on the team. I enjoy the spaces between certainty and knowledge that sparks creative thinking.
- How important do you feel it is for the company to keep the feel of a startup rather than corporate feel, as it grows?
It’s less about the growth stage and more about the overall culture, you can be big and be entrepreneurial or small and corporate. It’s more about wanting to do things differently for everyone’s benefit – the customer, the team and your shareholders
- What is your biggest motivation in business?
Curiosity and the need to keep learning.
- What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Listen to all the advice you can and then make your own mind up about everything.