JRNY, a recent alumnus of our 2018 Kiwi Fintech Accelerator, creates virtual insurance assistants and digital brokers, for both B2C and B2B solutions, to help insurance companies and brokers convert more leads and improve their bottom line.

We caught up with CEO Michael Lovegrove to see what they’ve been up to since leaving the accelerator.

What has your journey been like to get to where you are now?

A bloody rollercoaster, but wouldn’t change it for the world. We’ve been punched in the face multiple times, but every time we get back up and become a better company.

 

You went through our Kiwi Fintech Accelerator programme in 2018, how did that experience help you? What advice would you give to prospective participants?

There were two really valuable parts to the programme:

  1. Learning to sell a proposition
  2. Connecting with the right people

Selling is key to any business success. It doesn’t matter how good the product is, if you cannot sell it, you will lose.

People make a company. The Kiwi FinTech Accelerator connected us with the right people from a team, advisor and investment perspective.

My advice is to use your time and resources wisely. There is no playbook, and no one has the right answer. Make sure you validate your idea – spend a decent amount of time doing this – and then execute.

JRNY recently placed second in Money 20/20 StartUP Academy Pitch. Tell us more about this experience – what does this mean for JRNY?

It means we have a global proposition with international validation. It means we’re going, global baby!

 

What’s the most inspiring thing about being a part of JRNY?

Working with kick-ass people every single day.

 

Can you share a book, podcast or video that has inspired you recently?

The Hard Thing about Hard Things. It will prepare you for the punches to the face that will inevitably happen. Any founder should read this. Period.

 

What’s next? What’s the vision for JRNY the next month, year, 10 years?

Next month: You’ll see 😉

Next year: Going global

10 years: Acquire Google

Want to keep hearing how our alumni are doing and what they’re are getting up to? Stay up-to-date and sign up to our newsletter.

Jrny

Kiwi FinTech
SERVICES
Improving customer experiences for the insurance industry
Preno

PRENO

LIGHTNING LAB 2015

Preno is a simple SaaS property management system that streamlines the administration side of the business allowing accommodation operators to save time (up to 4 hours per day!). Their current customers globally fall under 150 rooms or units in size.

Preno was created in 2015 by an award-winning hotelier, Amelia, who owned and managed The Spire Hotel in Queenstown for 4 years.

During that time, she became increasingly frustrated at the amount of time she spent on admin. Determined and inspired to solve this, she teamed up with Max to build Preno. The team has since expanded in order to provide our customers with the best service, support, and product. Their mission is to make hoteliering uncomplicated and enjoyable for their customers.

We asked Amelia, Prenos’ CEO and co-founder, a few questions to see how everything is going 2 years on from participating in Lightning Lab Auckland.

You went through our Lightning Lab accelerator programme in Auckland in 2015, what have been your biggest achievements since, personal or otherwise?

Lightning Lab was a fantastic experience for us, we learnt so much and we met so many experienced people. As a team we have achieved certain goals in less time than originally expected; gaining customers overseas, bringing on larger hotels/properties as users, having a very high retention of our customers. Personally, I have learnt a lot and continue to grow. I’m really proud of the talented team Max (my co-founder) and I have grown since then.

Tell us, in short, the good, the bad and what inspires you about Preno right now…

The good: We are making progress with sales, we can see good traction and have more data around the value that our customers are getting. Our team is making great progress in automating our onboarding and we have seen the average revenue per user double in the last few months. We have developed the core to Preno product and we are now focused on our additional features, which is exciting. The most exciting being added benefits for guests, coming soon.

The bad: There are always challenges! We are continuing to develop and refine our sales and marketing approach, which has been a bit of a learning curve. 

Whats inspiring us: We’re continually inspired by our customers and the vision we have for Preno long term. We really believe we can grow this product into something that will revolutionise the guest and hotelier experience.

Tell us, in short, the good, the bad and what inspires you about Preno right now…

The good: We are making progress with sales, we can see good traction and have more data around the value that our customers are getting. Our team is making great progress in automating our onboarding and we have seen the average revenue per user double in the last few months. We have developed the core to Preno product and we are now focused on our additional features, which is exciting. The most exciting being added benefits for guests, coming soon.

The bad: There are always challenges! We are continuing to develop and refine our sales and marketing approach, which has been a bit of a learning curve. 

Whats inspiring us: We’re continually inspired by our customers and the vision we have for Preno long term. We really believe we can grow this product into something that will revolutionise the guest and hotelier experience.

What insights do you still use from the Lightning Lab programme?

Lightning Lab taught us to validate our ideas, talk to customers, and how best to pitch to investors. It was an invaluable experience for both Max and I. Being new to Auckland, Lightning Lab also helped us in developing a network of entrepreneurs, influencers, and mentors.

Our biggest takeaway from Lightning Lab was; listen to your customer. Understanding their problems and pain points has been incredibly helpful in developing a high-quality product that our users love.

How do you maintain a sense of well-being/resilience when the pressure is on at work?

I’m still learning how to prioritise health and well-being over work. It’s important because running a startup is a long-distance race. Some days are really hard, but it helps to talk to those around you. Max and I go on founder coffee mornings, where we spend time catching up and checking in with one another. It’s a nice bit of time away from life as startup co-founders, which helps.

Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at?

One of my favourite Preno customers is EcoVilla in Christchurch. A boutique property that is focused on the guest experience and providing an interesting stay for their guests. Their story is interesting, as they started out on Airbnb but have branched out to become more professional. Preno has really helped them expand their business operations.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

A book that has been useful for me at the moment is ‘Extreme you’ by Sarah Robb O’Hagan. I love the authenticity of this book, it’s genuine, fresh, and relevant.

Do you have any top tips for those creating a new business?

If you are starting a new venture, make sure you are passionate about the problem you are solving and the industry you are going into. Know that it will not be easy and you will always face difficulties, but being open to new ideas and asking for help will get you through.

A mentor once told me to “celebrate the small wins” and that has been a very simple but treasured piece of advice. While you work towards bigger goals, it helps to celebrate the smaller achievements along the way…

SERVICES
Improving customer experiences for the insurance industry