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The importance of networking to a growing company cannot be overstated – but have you ever ditched the business attire for lycra in the quest for contacts?

André Symes, group CEO at Genasys, is a huge advocate of “agenda-less conversations” – and, along with many others, gets on his bike to make them happen.

“We know from experience just how hard it is to run your own business, particularly under your own steam,” Symes tells TechBlast of the company he joined in 2012 and which remained bootstrapped up to 2022. “We’ve always endeavoured to extend a helping hand to startups in the sector. 

“Have we ever played investment angel or played VC with software? No, that’s not our business. Our business is to provide software… and it was from those discussions that Tour de InsurTech was born.”

Genasys – Insurance software with a difference

First held in 2021, the initiative encourages people in the insurance sector to meet up for a week-long cycle trip. Last September, more than 50 riders tackled 515 kilometres across seven stages, passing through London, Tunbridge Wells, Nottingham, Reading and Bath.

So how did the first Grand Départ come about?

“During the boredom of COVID lockdown I noticed that a lot of the people that I follow were also keen cyclists,” explains Symes. “I proposed getting together once lockdown was lifted – and we could just cycle around the country, talking all things InsurTech. And wow, did that escalate quickly!

“I see it as a project where the community owns it, almost like a blockchain. Effectively we take inputs from people and give them brand exposure for no commercial return… an open forum for people to come along, cycle, meet other cool people in the tech space and enjoy agenda-less conversations. 

“The first rule of Tour De InsurTech is… you don’t ever pitch someone during Tour de InsurTech!”

The synergies between sport & business

Symes is also a keen motorcyclist and draws parallels between such competitions and running a business. “To do either, you have to be dedicated: you’ll have crashes and you’ll get hurt along the way… you may even catch a flat or blow an engine… but you don’t win championships by giving up after every setback.

“Equally, you have to make sure that every part of the tools you have is optimised for the task at hand. You can have the best-prepped motorcycle in the world, but if your tyre pressure is wrong, you’ll be going slower than everybody else. 

“You therefore need to ensure your product is good, your service is good, implementation is good and that your ecosystem partners are fit for purpose. Everything has to fit together to work well – and then it’s your job as CEO to drive that bike as fast as you can, without crashing too often and whilst keeping the wheels on!”

Is there anything he would do differently with Genasys, second on our sister publication BusinessCloud’s InsurTech 50 ranking late last year?

“Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Not because we haven’t made mistakes, but because we’ve learned from those mistakes and that is what has enabled us to improve our business,” he answers. “If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t being ambitious enough. 

“I think we’ve got a great business, a great group of people and a great product. When you’re this dedicated to a business, work becomes pretty much your life, so having the right team around you becomes even more paramount, if only for your own sanity.”

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