Brandon Laughridge is the Co-Founder and President of PolicyZip, a nationwide online insurance agency specializing in Medicare and Life insurance. He previously founded and sold two online businesses in financial services.
Where did the idea for PolicyZip originate?
My partner and I sold our online marketing business in 2014. We then partnered with a private equity firm to make two acquisitions for them in California. That experience led us to raise our own fund, with the idea that we’d buy our next venture. After looking at a few insurance businesses, we decided to switch course and simply start one from scratch. I see so much opportunity in the world of insurance for a young, hustling, tech-savvy company to do well.
What makes PolicyZip different than an old school insurance broker?
Our background is in technology and applying that technology to financial services. That means we can make the process of buying insurance faster. It starts with our marketing, and we generate a lot of customers from search engines. But our goal really is to streamline the process of buying life insurance or Medicare supplement insurance. It’s a service business. We’ll call you back, we’ll give you personal attention. Our technology makes that feasible.
Why Kansas City?
For one, I grew up here. My wife and I moved back after we sold the business in ’14. My partner stayed in San Diego, and that gives us broader opportunity for recruitment, partnerships and the like. But Kansas City is a great place to grow a business. The talent pool is strong. I identify more with the Midwestern work ethic and attitude, and of course everything is cheaper here versus the coasts.
How has your experience selling your previous businesses influenced what you’re doing with PolicyZip?
When we set out to form PolicyZip, and our sister site Eligibility.com, we all sat down and listed out the things we learned from the last go round, particularly what we wanted to avoid with this business. The list was long. But a lot of it comes back to hiring well, and not getting stuck pursuing something that won’t work. It’s also nice to have had the experience with my partner and our team of doing this already. It gives you a framework to reference in making decisions. Other than that, going through some business sales as both a seller and buyer taught me the value of good financial records. Keep your books clean and up-to-date, at all times.
Switching gears, what is the one book you would recommend budding entrepreneurs read?
I really like T. Boone Pickens “The First Billion is the Hardest”. His roughneck beginnings are a reminder of the hard and dirty work it can sometimes take in the early days of building your business, and your career.
What other people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I was lucky to work for Brant Bukowsky during my college years, and he’s remained a mentor. For someone who is a little more visible and has things you can go read, I’m a fan of Charlie Munger. I met Warren Buffet in college through a school trip, and anything that either of those two have published is required reading in my opinion.
Lastly, what’s next for you and PolicyZip?
Growth, hopefully. We continue to hire in Kansas City and want to build a sustainable, fun culture around the company. Our technology and partnerships will continue to improve and expand. The biggest thing is continuing to find good people.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.