Hi Rohan! Thanks for taking out time from your crazy travels and chatting with us!
1. Tell us about Roadzen and how your startup is different than other players in the auto insurance space.
Roadzen was built on a simple thesis that insurance is driven by data. However, most insurers have massive infrastructures (e.g. 2000 offices, 10,000 agents etc.), are slow to react to their data and are run on pre-legacy systems. Most importantly, customers are generally dissatisfied with and don’t trust their interactions with insurers. We wanted to change this and so we built an AI platform that would help insurers underwrite their risk with better data, interact with their customers in real-time, provide roadside assistance to stranded customers and process auto-claims speedily. Today, we’re serving some of the top insurers in the world and have several million customers on our platform.
2. You're one of the few startups we know which is expanding internationally at such an early stage of your journey. Tell us why did you decide to go international and not focus on the Indian market alone?
We’re super focused on the problem we’re solving and how relevant it is to several markets. Going international was simply a function of our ambition, ability to scale and our belief that the transformation of insurance will not happen just in India, but globally. We want to be at the forefront of that change, be it in US, India, China or Europe.
3. What is it like to do business as an Indian startup in China and the US? Would you like to share any specific challenges or suggestions, that may help other entrepreneurs?
We’re actually an American company doing business in India and China. I'll share an example of our commitment towards building a global company - Our entire founding team moved from the US to India when we launched in India, then we all moved to China to launch China. Then, we built local teams to take over the operations in each country. An important lesson we learnt early on is that when you’re building a global business, you can’t do it via a remote control. You have to show up everyday and that’s how you gain the respect of your local partners in any country.
4. Prior to this, you ran an enterprise software and data analytics company. What were your most important learnings from that startup?
Running Avacara (my earlier startup) which was a bootstrapped business for several years taught me how to stay hungry, lean and do more with less. We also built a great product and data centric DNA within Avacara which has helped us build Roadzen.
5. You did a Masters in Control Systems, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University. Tell us more about your life at CMU?
There’s an enormous amount of intellectual rigor and hard work that is part of CMU life. You appreciate that a lot less when you’re in college, but when you think about it later in life, you realize that it does prepare you for your professional life! Plus, I met my wife there and that’s probably the best thing to ever happen to me :)
6. You did your undergraduate studies from India. Tell us more about that and how did that contrast with your Masters at CMU?
I went to NSIT to study engineering. My undergraduate degree in India was a breeze – The only expectation I had of myself was to get good grades, which was quite easy with a minimum amount of work. In hindsight, I should probably have been more engaged at the time. But I had fun and made good friends, so no regrets. CMU was a different ball game as I shared before, required a lot of work and effort.
7. You could have had a flourishing career in the U.S. Why did you startup instead?
Ever since I was a young boy, I thought about starting a business. Settling into a career never felt like the right thing, so I never pursued that option. However, when I graduated from college, I was completely unprepared for the challenges of startup life. It took at least 2-3 years of struggle before my cofounders and I understood how to build a business.
8. What drives you to work non stop, be on the road half the year and live this extraordinarily hectic life?
There’s two parts to this. One, I’m exceptionally driven by the vision of what we’re building. Second, I have the opportunity to do something I love everyday, so there are basically zero excuses for not giving your 100% percent to it. Whether it’s early morning flights or late night work sessions, I’m just glad to be doing this.
9. You have been one of our early members What has been your experience of engaging with IvyPlus Network?
Seeing the IvyPlus Network grow into a vibrant community over a short time has been amazing. It’s the only Facebook group I follow with regular interest, because of the quality of people on it. So many people are doing incredible things and everyone is supportive of each other. Additionally, it’s a great place to recruit or get recruited!
10. Do you have a message for our members on any help you're seeking or ways in which you could be of use to them?
We are always looking for the best minds to help us solve the hardest problems at Roadzen. So, I’d love to speak to anyone who is potentially interested in joining us. I’m available to any entrepreneur within the community to discuss ideas, strategy or to make any relevant connections.
Rohan Malhotra is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University and the Founder & CEO of Roadzen.