The start-up headed by 33-year-old Sten Saar has big ambitions – starting with Spain

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Sten Saar, Zego’s chief executive 

After founding four businesses by the time he reached his 30’s, Zego chief executive Sten Saar has set his sights on global expansion, with Spain up next.

He said that Zego will be taking its lines to 8-10 countries in Europe. “We are very ambitious with our plans, and I am here to build a global solutions company,” he told Insurance Times.

The news follows its partnership with La Parisienne Assurances (LPA) last year which saw the firm expand into Ireland in September. This same MGA is now behind Zego’s next move.

Saar founded his first business, Realister, as a 17-year-old in 2004 making notepads for students. By the time he was 21 he was trading in four countries alongside a team of 22.

After moving to the UK from Estonia, and a stint in sales at start-up QuickStart Global, he joined high-end Airbnb-style company Onefinestay. He worked there for just over three years in a range of management roles, before leaving to join Deliveroo, where he met Harry Franks.

Together, in June 2016, they co-founded Zego, an insurtech that aims to turn insurance on its head by offering policies on a fractional basis to meet the needs of new working patterns.

Fast forward to 2019 and Saar is chief executive of Zego after swapping roles with Harry Franks in August. Franks’ expertise in finding opportunities and knowing where to focus saw him assume Saar’s former role as chief operating officer.

“It plays to each of our strengths, and if that needs to change one day so be it, as it’s about what’s best for the business,” Saar added.

Over the last six months the business has grown rapidly with new partnerships, beginning with RSA, with which Zego launched pay-as-you-go insurance aimed at part-time parcel and delivery drivers, followed by a venture capital deal with TriplePoint.

On its recent extension of the LPA partnership, Saar said: “We think very much in the same way – that’s why we started working together, and it was going well so we thought ‘let’s expand’.”

Risk vs need

But he put the reason for Zego’s rapid expansion down to its products. Insurance, Saar says, traditionally looks at risk rather than what people need.

“The nature of annual policies has always existed but in the twenty-first century, the way people work has changed, it’s more remote, with freelancing and working from home.”

The way people move around is also changing, he said, and Zego’s focus on Spain was due to the prevalence of vehicle sharing.

“Spain has one of the largest shared mobility markets, there are lots of scooter and car-sharing companies.

“The concept of ownership is becoming shared, no-one is really owning stuff anymore,” Saar said.

The company aims to make this shared mobility sector more flexible, which will become increasingly important because of the high cost of electric vehicles as fossil fuelled cars are phased out.

“The gig economy has been a great testing platform, it’s a niche market to see how our concept and infrastructure works. Now we are going to move more towards the commercial motor space.”

As for Brexit, Saar said: “We have prepared for all eventualities, but the key is that we have the best talent. Today we have 19 nationalities in the business out of 70 people, we want to be able to attract the best.”

What next after Spain? Saar said Zego is aiming worldwide.

“We will be focusing on the gig economy, the new mobility space, commercial and business insurance,” he added.