Spotlight: Founder and CPO Johnny Bridges - Blog - artificial.

Spotlight: Founder and CPO Johnny Bridges

Articles | Spotlight

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m married with a new baby; currently trying my best to stay awake long enough to finish this interview. I’m kidding.

My background is varied, but the common theme has always been technology. I worked as a reinsurance analyst in my gap year. I was thrown in at the deep end and learned an awful lot about the inner workings of commercial insurance contracts, Lloyd’s and the industry as a whole. At the end of my gap year, I went to UCL to study Computer Science & Management.

Whilst I was studying full-time I also continued to work full-time in the reinsurance analyst role. What nobody realised was that I was slowly automating my own job. By the time I left, I not only had a full understanding of the meaning behind all of the reports, but in under five minutes I could compile all of the reports that previously would’ve taken me over a week.

How did you and David King (co-founder and CCO) meet?

We did a couple of projects for Footlocker together and ultimately decided we got on really well, so we should keep working together. Artificial was subsequently born a few months later and we won BMW as our first landmark customer. We bootstrapped Artificial for the first couple of years doing software development and built up a very talented team doing so. 

When did you realise you could make a difference in the Insurance industry?

There wasn’t a specific eureka moment, but I vividly remember that myself and David were building the MVP [Minimum Viable Product - or, first version] of a two-sided marketplace platform for another startup. I was growing increasingly frustrated with the fact we kept having to ‘start again’ with each new customer project we won, and we couldn’t really commit to providing the real quality that I wanted to create for these companies and their users.

We decided that the only way we could really solve this and ensure both ourselves and our wider team would be happier - was to create our own product, which would provide us with a long-term focus and repeatable revenue. As managers, myself and David had built this fantastic team, we just needed to direct them towards the right problem to solve. 

Insurance was our common past-life that both myself and David had experienced first-hand; we both understood the value we could provide using the skills we had since learned and team we had grown.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in a startup?

I’ve learned to be quite self-aware, and one of the things that really bothered me the most about working for big corporations - whilst admittedly I was very junior at the time - was that I was insignificant and just didn’t matter. 

I’m also driven and most rewarded by seeing how actions you take can directly and positively impact other people’s lives. Both in terms of the people that work for you and with you, to those that use our tools day to day. Simply put, I want to improve the quality of life for everyone around me, that’s the most rewarding thing I can possibly ask for.

If you could do anything differently in your journey so far, what would it be?

I’m of the opinion that everything you do in life contributes to your understanding of the world and changing something along this journey may have led me down a completely different path.

Within the bounds of Artificial, I’d probably have hired a few more senior people earlier in the company’s life. Having the confidence to hire people much better than you is a real watershed moment, and there’s no going back. In a very early stage startup, you are responsible for setting standards and expectations from those around you.

You need to surround yourself with the very best and experienced people that you can possibly convince to help you on your mission. This isn’t always achievable in a small margin business until you have sufficient volume, or enough funding to bridge the gap.

Where do you see the InsurTech sector in five years?

Good question. Well, obviously I believe InsurTech holds the future for insurance, otherwise I’d be focusing on something else! Given the increasing levels of investment year on year, our own experiences and understanding, and how antiquated much of the market is, I think we’re now in the very early stages of innovation for an entire industry, where a handful of early adopters are starting to implement available solutions.

I expect that new types of sensors and other IoT innovations will become a mainstay for monitoring and gathering data attached to large commercial contracts or where claims histories are minimal; we’ll see data quantities continue to skyrocket with the ability for the fully data-driven insurer to adjust underwriting models in real-time. 

I also expect existing antiquated processes to continue to be rationalised, and then turbocharged using machine learning. We'll see exponential efficiency gains over the next few years.

by Anna Burge

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