Interview with CEO & Co-founder of Azki.com

TEHRAN, Oct. 27 (MNA) – Meet Yashar Zhalehdoust, co-founder and CEO of Azki.com. Azki is one of Iran’s first and most successful insurance aggregators, providing its customers with a one-stop online platform for comparing and buying insurance from many of Iran’s largest insurance providers.

Before Azki, Yashar spent 20 years in the United States studying and working in digital marketing and eCommerce. He later returned in 2011 to Iran and applied these skills at ChapAgha.com before deciding to launch his idea for creating an easier way to purchase insurance at a fair price.

Where did the idea come from?

The initial idea came to my mind by studying the work of the world’s biggest online comparison websites. The lack of such an online platform for insurance market was deeply felt in Iran so I extended my research. At the time I was drawn to the 4 letter word AZKI which is the keyword for when purchasing a product or service in Farsi. Almost in all the business markets when people want to buy a product or service, their most important question starts with these 4 letters:
Who to buy from? “Az” + “Ki”?

I then decided to buy AZKI.com. As far as I know Azki.com is the shortest domain with the .com extension in Iran – a short domain for an extraordinarily wide market and high demand.

Why insurance? Why did you decide to start your business in the insurance industry?

The insurance market has high revenue potential and low barriers to entry. When studying the processes of the biggest online comparison websites’ formation (online aggregators) I noticed that almost all of these companies started their businesses by focusing on the insurance market and then broadening their knowledge and comparison tools with a unique approach to the market.

With many companies offering unique approaches to insurance offerings, customers are faced with a complicated decision when choosing an insurance provider. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of plan options across all offerings and providers.

To put it in simple words when talking about insurance, we’re talking about a huge market with a lot of customers who don’t have accurate information on the difference between companies and their services; and that is what makes the decision difficult for them.  In this situation a professional and unbiased comparator would be the greatest help to the customers.

Why did you choose a startup venue?

At first, I had good offers for buying Azki’s domain and the idea; but, because of my interest in digital marketing, I preferred to nurture it like my child while improving my skills. Startups are the best environment for nurturing these ideas. Financial management in startups forces you to have a plan for every step and you’re constantly leveling up and improving your business acumen.

From my experience, big companies are where we find derivative thinking and big budgets; in startups we find big ideas.  In my opinion, startups give you the opportunity to develop good ideas with a creative team and at a low cost. Ideas like Azki can quickly become a company with high market share.

What was the path to growth of Azki? Where did you start and where are you now?

Azki was started in early 2017 in a small room and within another private company (Chapagha). At first the company consisted of me and an IT expert. Little by little new members were added to the team, so we got a bigger room in the same company.

A 14 square meter room was the core of Azki, and the foremost important decisions happened there. We added insurance, digital marketing and content experts at the time, and with the help of all 7 members of the team, the first steps toward representing our company in the big market were taken.

Our initial contracts with major insurance companies were signed and first sales were officialized. After expanding our sub-teams and increasing the number of employees, we moved to a bigger place. Our 14 meter room didn’t have enough space for new members, so after 9 months we moved out and became completely independent.

Reviewing last year, if you want to name a successful startup, who’s your pick and why?

I pick Alibaba.ir and my reason is its fast growth. Alibaba’s targets were more specific and better planned than its competitors, and by using a scientific and statistical analysis of Iran’s market, it had extraordinary growth in a short time and now has a remarkable market share.

Tell us about the challenges you faced starting your business?

We must admit that every business has its own challenges; the most important thing is finding the proper solution to the problems. The mechanism of Iran’s traditional market and businesses don’t have proper coordination with startups yet. Startups are usually ignored by the traditional market. At first, they resist and oppose the idea but eventually they come on board.

Predictably, Azki had the same path. For example a few weeks ago a number of representatives from one of the famous insurance companies asked us to remove their logo from our website and stop selling their policies in an unprofessional manner.

A similar scenario happened to Snapp (Iran’s Uber), so we were expecting it. But we’re sure with the help of related organizations, these problems will be solved soon; and, at the end of the day the company with better services will have the bigger share in market.

What does the future hold for Azki?

Online insurance aggregators all over the world are developing their use of digital tools – tools that both accelerate service providing and minimize the possibility of human error.

In developed countries, almost everything related to insurance is done online -- from getting quotes and buying, to the issuance of damage payment in the event of an accident. In these countries the main stage of representing the product and marketing is done through websites (online). Prices are announced online to the customers, and the process of purchasing and issuing insurance policies is also done online.

One of the more interesting features offered online is the virtual claim process.  In many of these countries, the initial damage assessment is done digitally and based on the sensors in the cars, and the damage compensation is paid online.

The spread of virtual insurance policies in developed countries has made insurance industry process more efficient and faster. We also hope that insurance industry in Iran, with the help of startups like Azki, would proceed this way and provide a better customers’ service, meeting their standards and satisfaction and eventually cause the spread of online insurance market in Iran.      

Why should people buy from Azki? What does your service have to offer?

Azki has focused on one of the main and most important needs of customers.  Whenever the need of a customer is evaluated correctly and is given the appropriate answer, it is definitely accepted by the public.

Currently Azki is working in insurance market which is high in demand. Our website gives the users the ability of comparing policies and their different features and terms. In the past, to get quotes, customers had to meet agents in person or on phone and spend hours comparing the premiums; but now with just a few clicks and after providing a little information, they can view and compare various quotes and services of big insurance companies all at once.

The next reason for purchasing insurance from Azki is the convenience. Today customers have a busy schedule and don’t want to spend their time and money on commuting to buy an insurance policy. By providing accurate information and professional customer support, all users will experience an easy, fast and secure purchase, and their policy is delivered to wherever they wish - for free.

The last reason is also the difference in the price of insurance policies represented by Azki. For most of the policies, Azki offers a cheaper premium than traditional companies, and because our employees do not work off of traditional sales commissions, our customers enjoy considerable savings, even though they are purchasing an often-superior product and service.

Who are your main competitors in the market?

Right now, there are lots of companies working in this field and the number is increasing. The competitive edge and quality of our services will make us stand out from our rivals in the short time. However, I believe our biggest competition in this area are not the other online companies, but the overall behavior of customers in the market.

The insurance market is huge and surely has a high potential for startup companies. But the most important factor in success of such companies is the customers’ behavior in Iran and their willingness of buying insurance online.

As of now, a very small percentage of the insurance market is dedicated to online purchases, and most of this market consists of traditional purchases. We hope by encouraging online purchase, the same change that has happened in similar markets will also happen in the insurance market, and we will see an increase in the number of online orders.

What is the plan for Azki in 2018?

In 2017 most of our energy and effort were spent on preparing and developing the needed framework (substructure). We formed different groups to evaluate our strength and weakness and provided what was needed for our professional entry to the market. 2018 will be the year of Azki’s prosperity. Our advertising campaign and the main stage for our entry to the market will start.

Source: ShanbePress.com

News Code 139093

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