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Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to $10 Million from Atlanta: Field Pros Direct CEO Matt Anderson (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 3rd 2020

Sramana Mitra: You took a two-step journey into entrepreneurship. You did something that was slightly lower risk. Somebody else gave you clients and profit-sharing but without equity. But you were preparing to go into the full entrepreneurship model. 

By the time you were ready to leave, did you have something worked out in your mind about the company that you were going to go full blast into?

Matt Anderson: I did not – not totally at least. I started participating in an incubator here in Atlanta called ATDC. They are affiliated with Georgia Tech. I knew that I didn’t want the next company to be just a traditional independent adjusting firm.

I knew that the insurance industry, especially the insurance claims industry, was starved for technology. There are so many different processes that were broken. The claims department at insurance carriers don’t have technology budgets, and they are just starving for technology and modernizing the way they do business.

I knew the next company was going to be a technology company when I went to the incubator ATDC. I participated in their customer discovery process which started with the basics. I interviewed hundreds of service providers in the claims ecosystem because I didn’t know which problem I wanted to solve first.

I wanted to solve problems for adjusters, engineers, tree removal, and a lot more providers. There are so many service providers in this property claims ecosystem. There were so many things that I wanted to improve. I wanted to narrow it down to the most significant addressable problem that we could start a business with.

Sramana Mitra: What was that problem that you finally zeroed in on?

Matt Anderson: I interviewed hundreds of adjusters. I also interviewed insurance carriers in the claims departments to see what their pain points were. While doing this, hurricane Matthew in 2016 was approaching Florida. It looked like this was going to be a massive hurricane.

A lot of the insurance carriers that I was speaking to and who had policies in Florida thought that this was going to be the worst-case scenario for their policy base. They thought they’d have hundreds of thousands of claims. This was the worst-case scenario for them.

It ended up scurrying on the coast and it didn’t hit Florida. That happens all the time and it’s not that surprising. What was surprising was, the largest adjustment firms in the industry getting fined after that event. They were fined by their clients for not being able to provide enough adjusters.

While we were interviewing independent catastrophe adjusters, they were ready to be deployed to Florida, and they didn’t receive any claims. So they turned around and drove back home. That was our aha moment.

On one side, we have the carriers or claims that need to be assigned, and, on the other side, we have adjusters that want claims, but they are not matching up.

The process of matching the claims with resources and checking what the capacity is and if the demand is broken was manual for every independent adjustment company. It used emails, phone calls, text messages, and sticky notes. It was not sophisticated at all.

The very first thing that we built was a platform to automate the process of matching claims with the adjustors based on the specific details and adjuster requirements of the carriers that were submitting the claims.

On the other side of that, we built a network of what is over 6,000 adjusters now. Very quickly we got it up to 3000 before we even started. Adjusters are able to share their preferences, skillsets, and proficiencies. We built a platform that would match those claims with the adjustors. 

Sramana Mitra: What you were doing is a freelance body of adjusters? 

Matt Anderson: That is exactly what we did. We have a network of adjusters that is the most powerful part of the company. We have evolved from being able to match claims with adjustors to cultivating that network of adjusters. Even now we are adding all those adjacent service providers that we interviewed early on to the platform. 

Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about how you launched this company now that you have got the problem statement defined. Talk about how you got it off the ground. 

Matt Anderson: The end of my time with ATDC was approaching and I gave my notice. I took steps to reduce my expenses as much as possible. We moved to a different house because, being at Crawford, we got used to a certain amount of expenses per month. I bootstrapped. My intention from the beginning was to bootstrap and go as very far as possible on my own. 

Sramana Mitra: Where were you located?

Matt Anderson: In Atlanta, Georgia. I rented the house that we owned and moved to a much less expensive house in Florida to be close to the family as well. I was able to do that by moving the family to Florida. 

Sramana Mitra: What year did you get this going?

Matt Anderson: That was in 2017. 

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to $10 Million from Atlanta: Field Pros Direct CEO Matt Anderson
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