921. Connecting His Tech Side with His Business Side for Success
“There are a lot of talented people that would be very interested in the domain of insurance because it is actually fascinating, but it’s just sort of closed off to you unless you have certain credentials or unless you work for the right company. That’s actually a big problem. There’s a big disconnect between the work that needs to be done and young people, who increasingly aren’t getting exposure to these jobs or to these crafts from their schooling.”
Sean Harper is the co-founder and CEO of Kin, an insurance company built from scratch on modern tech to make it easier and more affordable to insure a home, especially in areas prone to extreme weather. A self-proclaimed tech geek, Sean has spent his career developing apps to revolutionize antiquated industries. When he realized that the homeowners insurance industry was still being managed unlike any other consumer financial products today, he co-founded Kin as a tech-based insurance agency in 2016 and has grown it to a fully licensed home insurance carrier supported by a team of over 100 employees. With a focus on world class customer service, insurance literacy, and smart coverage, Sean and his team are changing the way insurance is done.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I had an economics teacher in high school who was hugely influential. He just really made it interesting. I think that economics is one of the most useful lenses for understanding how the world works. And I learned that from him. He was great at applying economic principles to stuff that was relevant to us, and it made him a really great teacher. I ultimately ended up majoring in economics in college. That was an important turning point to me. Economics is still sort of my default lens. When I am trying to solve a problem, I view it through that lens.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1.“In the summers between years in college, I got a lot of really good work experience. My first year I worked for the FDIC, the government agency that insures the banks. My second year I worked for a hedge fund, and then my next two internships were both at big investment banks, which was really interesting. Those are intense and grueling jobs, but they sure do teach you a lot about that domain.”
2. “I finished university in three and a half years. At that time, I really wanted to get out and get more business experience because I had really enjoyed those summer work experiences. I’m always attracted to practical things. I didn’t ever want to go to grad school. I eventually did, but I just wanted to get out and work and solve problems.”
3. “I did a couple of years at Boston Consulting Group, which was amazing. And then I looked at myself and realized I had always seen myself as a tech guy. And here I was making spreadsheets for banks. What’s going on here? So I left. I joined a little venture capital firm in Boston. That was a cool job because I had never really connected the tech side of me to the business side of me and this VC gig really allowed me that connection.”
4. “A friend of mine, a super entrepreneurial guy that I grew up with, had this idea of a business that he wanted to start. And in my spare time, I helped him start that. We built that without outside capital and knowing basically nothing about that business, which was electronics. We built it up from scratch and it became a real business that, at its peak, was on the Inc. 500.”
5. “One of the things I’m most proud of at Kin, my current company, is we have a lot of really young, talented people who might have started as customer service people straight out of college. Maybe they didn’t go to college. Maybe they were waiting tables, but they happen to be smart and ambitious, and they worked their way up into very heavy positions at the company. And we’ve been able to help them do that by giving them an opportunity and the materials and the information that they need.”
Connecting With Sean Harper
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