The CEO of InsurTech 50 star Tapoly intends to boost the company’s workforce to 50 by 2024.

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy co-founded the business with Sam Hopkins in 2016 to provide tailored business insurance for SMEs and freelancers in the gig economy.

It now also provides a SaaS API solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners to aid communication, data transfer and automation. 

I currently have a team of 10 employees across technology, business, finance and marketing, but we’re looking to increase our headcount to 50 by 2024 in line with our business growth plans,” she tells BusinessCloud.

Kaenprakhamroy grew up in an agricultural family in Thailand “where education was difficult to access and women were not particularly encouraged into entrepreneurship”. Despite this, it was always her dream to get a good education and eventually go to university. 

“I moved from Thailand to Sweden when I was 13 to finish school, then I came to London, initially for a holiday, but I fell in love with the city and stayed to go to university,” she explains.

“One of the main challenges I had to overcome was learning new languages and navigating working in different countries with different cultures. I’m very proud to be the first person in my family to graduate from university and to have worked hard to build my career to where I am today.”

Prior to founding Tapoly, she had a successful career in investment banking with Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase, rising to become internal audit director at UBS. “I always knew I wanted to run my own business as I really liked the idea of being my own boss and building my own elite team,” she acknowledges.

“The idea for Tapoly came to me in 2016 when I decided to rent out my flat through Airbnb. I needed an insurance policy that would protect my property, my guests, and myself against the risks of doing business, while providing the kind of short-term flexibility the sharing economy thrives on, but I couldn’t find one anywhere.”

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She was motivated to use technology to bring tailored insurance products to the then 2.2 million freelancers and micro-SMEs in the UK, providing cover that encompasses their unique activities at a fair price.

The number of gig economy workers has risen to 4.4m in the UK, which is an increase of 2.5 times since 2016.

“Many gig workers are forced to work under poor conditions and receive lower pay,” she says. “Last year the government made a landmark ruling to give 70,000 Uber private hire drivers a minimum wage, holiday pay and pension. However many gig economy companies still consider their workers as independent self-employed contractors and refuse to offer them basic rights. 

“This doesn’t seem to slow the growth of the gig economy though, so it seems this will continue.”

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Listed by Forbes as No.6 of the Top 100 Women Founders to Watch, Kaenprakhamroy has had to fight for success in a male-dominated industry. Indeed, she is something of a rarity in its boardrooms.

I constantly see just how few women there are in our offices and boardrooms. The insurance business is built on relationships so it has not always been easy to break in as a newcomer,” she says. “Once I gained recognition and trust, I have been made to feel very welcome. 

“I am thankful that I never felt I should avoid becoming an InsurTech entrepreneur because of my gender. This is a mindset that I want to instil in the next generation of female tech leaders. 

“However, structural changes still need to be made to break down the barriers and diversify the workforce, including increasing the amount of funding available, more mentoring opportunities and better access to education and training.”

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She does not believe her nationality plays a big role in how people view her. “However there are some aspects of the social and cultural barriers that I feel that I have to overcome to fit in and be part of the society here,” she caveats. “This was more apparent when I first arrived in this country and it’s less of an issue today. 

“Having said that, gender barriers still largely exist in most male dominated industries such as insurance. But the industry is aware of this and there are several organisations with initiatives on the way to bridge these gender and diversity gaps.”

Tapoly is expanding into North America and emerging markets among its growth plans for the next 12 months.

“We are in the process of launching the first reinsurance platform for cannabis insurance, and an insurance platform for construction workers in the Green Energy space,” says Kaenprakhamroy. “These projects are estimated to be worth over $1.6bn in market value. 

“We have teamed up with elite partners in these regions for rapid growth and local knowledge. Tapoly’s platform will bring both operational efficiency and scalability allowing our partners to gain a competitive advantage and economies of scale.”

With under two-thirds of a £2 million round of funding raised so far, any interested investors should contact the company at [email protected].