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“If your pet needs $10,000 life-saving surgery, you’re going to be glad you have pet insurance.”

Nick Braun is the founder and CEO of PetInsuranceQuotes.com, which is the premier shopping and comparison website for pet health insurance. Braun started his career at Huntington Bank as a senior analyst in the commercial banking division. In 2006, he joined NCT Ventures as a general partner where he oversaw investments in insurance, media and logistics. Braun holds a degree from Miami University and obtained his MBA from The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business in 2007. Braun’s experience and business background have helped him gain the experience necessary to consult entrepreneurs and small business owners. He lives in Columbus with his wife Melissa.

PetInsuranceQuotes.com is the quickest and easiest way for pet owners to get quotes and compare plans from all of the leading pet insurance companies.

In addition to providing free quotes they also offer tools and resources to help educate pet owners about pet health insurance and help them choose the right plan and company for their dogs and cats.

MO: Can you talk a bit about your journey from working in venture capital to becoming an entrepreneur? What did your turning point look like and what did your friends and family say about your decision?

Nick: So far my career has sort of gone backwards. Most venture capitalists start as successful entrepreneurs then become fund managers. I’m one of the few VC’s who left the fund business to start a company. I was at a great firm with great people for over five years but the role of a venture capitalist is to be a coach and I decided I wanted to play quarterback. When I told my friends and family I was leaving the venture firm to start a business they thought I was crazy. Why would anyone give up being a partner in a venture firm? The only answer I had is that you have to follow your gut no matter what it looks like to the outside world.

MO: How has your previous background and experience helped contribute to the direction and success of the business so far?

Nick: Clearly I had a huge advantage starting a business after spending five years investing in them. We evaluated thousands of business models and I learned about different markets, styles and personalities. I also witnessed success and failure first-hand. I like to tell people that being a venture capitalist is like getting an MBA in entrepreneurship. Those experiences helped me discover markets, evaluate opportunities, sell customers and develop a roadmap. However there are two important lessons I learned that every entrepreneur should know.

First, your business model is going to change no matter how good you are or how sure you are. It will change and those who can handle that pivot make it. Second, it’s going to be hard. Long nights, missed vacations, failures, disappointments. You really have to gut it out before you break through. I think the last point is the one that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from people who don’t make it. Entrepreneurs who succeed continue to push on even when their telling themselves, “what am I doing?”

MO: What aspects of pet insurance do you find pet owners most uninformed or confused about?

Nick: Pre-existing conditions, without a doubt. I get asked all the time, “My pet was just diagnosed with diabetes, if I buy a policy will it cover the treatment and medication?” No, it will not. Pet insurance companies don’t offer pre-existing condition coverage and to be honest, they shouldn’t. I suppose most pet owners think pet insurance is like human health insurance but they’re actually nothing alike. In fact, pet insurance is a type of property and casualty insurance, jut like your home and auto policies. So when pet owners push back on the pre-existing condition point I like to use the following analogy, “Do you buy auto insurance after you get into an accident? Of course not.” That’s why we urge pet owners to buy polices while their pet’s are young and healthy.

MO: Can you talk about the process of establishing relationships with the top pet insurance companies and earning their trust? How did you get your foot in the door?

Nick: I made a bold decision to build the website before pitching the pet insurance companies. I figured if I pitched the concept without anything to show I might miss out on my one opportunity. I also wanted to show them I was committed and put my money where my mouth was. I wasn’t just another guy trying to create a pet insurance information site in my basement, I truly wanted to invest my time and money into something special that would help create awareness and educate pet owners. Once they started to say yes my focus was to get them comfortable with what I was doing. Trust is a process, not a light switch. I like to think many of the companies consider me a trusted partner because we do what we say we’ll do and we focus on quality.

MO: What tips would you give to someone looking to break into a new market?

Nick: The first step is to do a lot of research. You need to learn their language. You need to understand their goals and their fears. You really need to become a part of market yourself, not just a service provider. People will take you seriously if you know what you’re talking about. It’s also critical to add value to the market. My value proposition is to provide objective, 3rd party information and comparison tools so the good pet insurance companies are differentiated from the bad. Luckily in my case the companies that are our partners provide really to offer the best products and service. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy because when your stuff is good you’re not afraid to be transparent and compete. But, it also doesn’t hurt that only 1% of U.S. pet owners currently have insurance, so the companies are not really competing against each other, they’re competing against the status quo, which is no insurance at all.

MO: What inspired you to launch a veterinary partnership program?

Nick: I always say that pet insurance is good for the pet owner, veterinarians and most importantly the pets themselves. The vet clinic is where the rubber hits the road. In order for the U.S. pet insurance industry to grow and reach critical mass we need veterinarians to support and help with promotion.

There are studies that show the positive impact pet insurance has on a veterinary clinic. For instance, pet owners with insurance schedule 40% more veterinary visits and spend twice as much on veterinary care over the life of their pet. Additionally their stop-treatment levels are 41% higher, which means they have a greater willingness to pay for expensive treatments when their furry friends get sick or injured. There are many positives for veterinarians and I have yet to find one negative. If your pet needs $10,000 life-saving surgery, you’re going to be glad you have pet insurance.



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