For Jennifer Fitzgerald frustration is what drove her to start Policygenius, the national online insurance marketplace.
As a consultant for leading insurance companies, Fitzgerald knew how difficult and frustrating buying insurance can be for consumers. She also knew it was the reason life insurance ownership is at a fifty-year low and why health and disability under-insurance is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures.
Along with her co-founder Francois de Lame, Fitzgerald set out to demystify purchasing insurance and since launching in 2014, has amassed a customer base of more than 5 million. The company has grown from just two people to 200 strong, helping consumers purchase all sorts of insurance over the Internet.
Fitzgerald didn’t set out to create a marketplace for insurance, early on she envisioned herself as a traveler, even joining the Peace Corps after college. She was assigned to a municipal government in Western Honduras where she spent a year devising a system for the government to collect property taxes by moving away from paper statements. It was a success and piqued her interest in helping companies and in this case municipalities better operate.
Following her work with the Peace Corp Fitzgerald landed a job at McKinsey & Co. where she advised Fortune 100 financial service companies. The daughter of an Air Force member, Fitzgerald credits her openness to change to being moved around a lot during her childhood. Today she tends to crave change more than a routine.
As the CEO of a growing financial technology startup, Fitzgerald has seen a lot over the years. In a recent interview she said that her success at Policygenius is derived from a belief in investing early on in good employees and infrastructure. Putting the effort in up front to make sure the hiring, onboarding, training, performance and evaluation is done correctly can breed loyalty among employees. She’s also a big believer in seeking help and credits a lot of the company’s success to co-founder de Lame, who was also a McKinsey consultant.
“Building a company from scratch is, professionally, one of the most difficult things to do and I know I couldn’t have done this as a solo founder,” she said. “Having a partner to share the workload, and the emotional load, of this journey, has been critical to the company’s success and my own sanity.”