A Week in My Life - Nick Suehr, CEO and Co-Founder of KASKO
Founded in 2015, KASKO offers InsurTech as a Service, meaning it specialises in working with large insurers to design, distribute and run digital insurance products for any distribution channel.
Without having to re-prioritise IT legacy systems and structure, KASKO provides innovative solutions at speed for larger and more traditional insurers. KASKO has worked a host of leading insurers including Allianz, Allianz Worldwide Partners, AMTrust, ARAG, Barmenia, Baloise Group, Baveria Direkt, FRI:DAY, GAV, Obvi, R+V, Roland, Swiss Re Co-op and Zurich.
Nikolaus Suehr, Co-Founder and CEO of KASKO, talks us through his working week...
My Mondays usually start as early as 4:30, followed by some exercise and meditation. I try to kick my day off with a short session as I spend lots of time travelling and scooping over a laptop, so getting some exercise and stretching in is key. I use Headspace for my meditation, a session of about 20 minutes helps me prepare for the day ahead.
I get up at such a silly time, basically because I have to travel around Europe (mostly the DACH region) for face-to-face meetings with our existing or prospective insurers and partners. This means I either have to jump on the train or plane, have two to three of these meetings and return back home late and ready for bed. Such days can be extremely tiring, but face to face interaction is crucial in our business - especially at the start when introducing new methods of working to a more traditional world, like insurance.
This week, my Tuesday was all about travelling too, so I had to get up as early as Monday to get on the plane for a two day conference in Paris. Basically, time is precious, so I have to find moments to pick up on other things where I can. For me that would mean having a couple of calls with customers or partners, as well as internal calls, then 5-10 networking meetings and possibly a pitch or panel discussion where I can share some learnings from our “InsurTech as a Service” offering and how we help insurers to become faster and better, and how these joint endeavours have shaped the way we see the FinTech and InsurTech world and what those views are.
The day doesn’t end here though as networking dinners usually take place at conferences and give a great chance to meet even more people and start new conversations.
The second day of the conference, in this case the Wednesday of my week, is not much different than the first one, just that I can get up a little later as I don’t have to travel to a different city or country. I will then spend the rest of the day engaging in conversations with potential partners and customers.
What I consider extremely important is staying on top of all trends in the industry, so I dedicate 2-3 hours per week to reading key newsletters and industry news, which I often do when I travel from one place to another. This is also part of our thought leadership strategy to share trends and key developments with the “ecosystem”. When I manage to get back home to Hamburg from the conference, I go straight to bed so that I’m ready to roll in the morning.
The days that I spend in Hamburg usually all start with some exercise and meditation, before jumping into everything else on the KASKO front. I don’t exercise every day, but I will try at least every other day. I travel a lot, when it’s within Europe, it usually allows me to spend a good amount of time with my family and friends too, but travelling outside of Europe means I will have to leave on Sunday for a Monday start - a cost when getting something like KASKO off the ground, but of late we have built 60+ products for 20+ insurers around the world. Things are progressing well and that cost seems to be paying off.
After my exercise and meditation I like to get a Club Mate (a famous brand of caffeinated drink in Germany) or some other caffeinated drink and run through my emails. When I’m not travelling, a typical day would then consist of preparing event presentations, drafting contracts, writing marketing content, providing feedback on internal conceptual and process questions, and of course following up with insurers and partners.
As a CEO, I also sit through a number of meetings with the team to ensure we’re all on the same page and on track with our goals. This has several dimensions. I have a monthly sales call with our business development team where we focus on priorities, progress and next steps.
Every two weeks I also check in with Eddie, our Head of Asia, Felcio and Annika who do business development in DACH and with our team assistant Julia. During the 1:1 calls, it’s important for me to understand whether they are happy, what’s going well and what might not be going according to plan and how I can support them moving forwards. These sessions are not to track goals or process and mostly revolve around communication and prioritisation with the agenda set by my colleagues.
I also hold a weekly HR call with our leadership team, so with my Co-Founder and CTO Matt, our COO Sergej and Head of HR Oksana. During this, we discuss our current priorities, progress and next steps. Other than this I tend not to over do it with recurring meetings and prefer to be in touch during the week on a case by case basis. After the internal calls, I spend a few more hours on the phone with insurers and partners to discuss mutual opportunities. Finally, I usually end my day, and week, with some more emails. I have to admit I am an empty inbox at the end kinda guy - ‘inbox zero’ is the dream. Mostly, it’s because customers or colleagues usually involve me on some form of decision or feedback and I want to make sure that they can do their work well.
My aim as a CEO is to work "on" the business with partners and customers, not "in" the business, which is why I need to have a team that I can 100% depend on which delivers the results and makes KASKO the stunning company that it is.
Although I don’t want it to sound like a cliché, working at the weekend is a thing too. I spend a good few hours on Saturday and Sunday working though my emails, finishing open tasks and reading industry news.
All in all, there usually is quite a bit going on, but I wouldn’t change since I really believe in what we do and I enjoy seeing how we are contributing to the insurance industry as it changes. Seeing your impact is priceless.