The insurance industry is a vital component of the global financial and risk management landscape. It helps individuals, businesses, and institutions to mitigate financial risks associated with unexpected incidents. The insurance industry leaders empower both clients and colleagues to contribute to the global economy. They demonstrate exceptional vision, innovation, and strategic thinking to share an unbreakable commitment to advancing in the sector. Anna-Carina Hausler (Managing Director/ Co-Founder of apinity) is leaving an indelible leadership mark in the male-dominated insurance industry. Her passion, resilience, and unparalleled dedication have led to remarkable achievements at apinity.
Right Time and the Right Approach
Anna-Carina started her career at the beginning of 2013 with a company that decided to invent the mobile payment market in Germany, even though 80% of sales transactions at that time were in cash. However, she felt it was exactly the right time and the right approach, so she decided to be a part of that journey.
Three years later, cards accounted for 80% of total retail transactions in Germany. Thereafter, she went into consulting and worked on big digital initiatives like connected cars for BMW. She felt excited when she got a call to help Allianz build a marketplace for APIs in an environment where 90% of all IT services are still on-premises. “It was the right time and the right industry for me to work on the next big transformation,” she adds.
“You Cannot Be Just Super Small”
While climbing the stairs of success, Anna-Carina confronted numerous challenges. Talking about challenges, her partner always advised her to get used to the fact that yesterday was the last easy day. She states a few challenges regarding corporate start-ups. The mechanics are not like in the VC game. The corporate strategy, board members, the existing business, everything matters and comes into play. She elaborates, “You cannot just start super small. You have to be visible if your start-up is in the insurance sector. This industry is based on trust, so you have to be a very reliable partner to be successful in this industry while still maintaining the start-up spirit – not so easy.”
Enjoying the Journey
Anna-Carina has an excellent professional background. She studied logistics at HA Heilbronn, which was sponsored by some impressive German companies like Würth (super successful, still family-owned). In 2013, she started her career at Wirecard, the company that went bankrupt in 2020. Apart from the crash, she really enjoyed the journey.
There were 300 employees when Anna-Carina joined it and when she left in 2017, the company had about 5000 employees. She felt excited to be part of such a high-growth company and learned a lot throughout the journey. She was a part of the newly launched mobile payments division. Her team built, sold, and rolled out the product across Europe, India, and Asia Pacific.
Anna-Carina grew up with super innovative software development in cross-functional, cross-country teams with flat hierarchies and a servant leadership style. After 3.5 years, she left the company to see more different industries and started working for AdEx Partners, a small but high-quality management consulting firm. It was a little conservative step for Anna-Carina when she arrived. However, she was able to bring some spirit and digital vibes to the company and build the digital arm of that organization. One of her last projects was to help Allianz build the Syncier Marketplace, which her team transformed into apinity.
Step by Step during the Pandemic
apinity was founded in 2019 by Allianz SE Insurance Group as a corporate venture Syncier Marketplace. In 2022, it was acquired by Munich Re for strategic reasons and made a re-start as apinity. In the beginning, the company faced various challenges including funding, hiring people, and finding product-market fit. The biggest one of them, however, was the COVID pandemic. Though the company started in 2019, the first growth took place in early 2020.
It was hard to build the company in this situation of uncertainty and lockdown. It hired about 15-20 people during the lockdown. People started working with each other and had to trust each other without ever seeing each other in real-time. Going to market with the product without a roadshow event and live customer pitches was another challenge. However, the company somehow made it. Even today, it is functioning very well!
A Marketplace Tailored for the Insurance Industry
The original vision of the company was to establish a public API marketplace tailored to the insurance industry. Envision it as an advanced app store, a centralized platform where insurers could seamlessly tap into services via API integrations. While apinity’s marketplace provides the platform for offering and accessing services, its capabilities led many businesses to approach customizing their own white-label API marketplaces. It was like a cherry on top.
In more technical terms, while many companies have their own API management systems, apinity serves as an enhancement to these systems. Drawing an analogy from e-commerce, if the API management is the warehouse, its marketplace encompasses the complete overhead – from billing and analytics to delivery and beyond.
apinity’s white-label solutions are used by insurance companies such as Munich Re and ERGO who wanted to add an extra layer to their API management. Moreover, it has enabled a large insurance industry association called BiPRO to build a hub for all the services within its network. The backbone of Synpulse 8’s “open wealth association” is its API marketplace. apinity enables these companies to realize their vision: “To define, maintain and operationalize the Open API standard for a global wealth management community“. apinity has a public API marketplace with services from small to large companies like Telekom MMS.
Ecosystem of Solutions for Customers
apinity is looking forward to offering its customers an ecosystem of solutions. These solutions are present in the marketplace of digital services and on the other hand, white-label SaaS solutions exist. The company wants to connect providers and consumers of digital services via its marketplace solutions. In this way, it supports customers in developing new, customer-oriented products quickly and efficiently. In the future, it will be even closer to customers to develop solutions jointly with them based on its API marketplace. The goal is to establish apinity as a strategic partner in the financial industry.
Long-Term Success in the Future
Describing the growth trajectory, apinity is a four years old corporate start-up. To develop and then sell a product, the company had to grow fast in regard to headcount. Now, it wants to show that it has a reason to be on the market and focus on smart and sustainable growth. That is why its biggest headcount is not in marketing and sales but in the tech department.
According to Anna-Carina, speaking of many years of success would certainly be a bit of an exaggeration. As mentioned earlier, her company was founded in 2019 by Allianz as a corporate venture. In 2022, it was acquired by Munich Re for strategic reasons and made a fresh start as apinity. Nevertheless, she believes in the future long-term success of apinity.
She thinks one of the main reasons behind her success is the diverse team. By hiring the best people for the different tasks, it has become a multifaceted team. It has men and women between the ages of 24 to 60 who come from dozens of different countries. Its managers include both women and men. Having a co-managing director whose skills complement Anna-Carina’s skills and vice versa is another positive point in the long-lasting success of the company.
Maintaining a Competitive Edge
Clear communication plays an important role in building a successful organization. At apinity, Anna-Carina focuses that everyone on board should be aware of the mission, vision, and strategy of the company. If everyone has the same milestones and goals in mind and knows the guidelines, the company will be successful at joining forces. Furthermore, the need for the product stays along with the success of any organization.
In the fast-paced insurance and banking industry of today, APIs play a crucial role in promoting innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. APIs are vital for the advancement of modern finance, whether it involves adopting open insurance or open banking, exploring embedded insurance or banking, or leading an AI initiative. apinity has built the central place for all APIs so insurance and banks are able to turn their APIs into business products.
Flexibilities and Incentives
Post-pandemic, the era of entrepreneurship has changed. apinity has fully embraced the momentum of the home office from the pandemic era, becoming a remote-first company. This has the advantage of recruiting the best minds across Europe. Its employees have the flexibility to work from home. To maintain personal contact, the whole team meets in person once a quarter in Munich. Here, the company defines the roadmap for the next three months in cross-departmental workshops. In addition, it also offers its employees the opportunity to work up to 40 days from abroad per year. It noticed that this flexibility and incentives motivate the employees.
Learning Through Personal Life Experiences
Anna-Carina grew up in a very engaged ‘self-made’ family. Her mother is a politician and realized large construction projects with her own company and her father went all the way up from being a cook to being part of the managing board in a multi-million euro food-retail company. Both without a university degree! So, her biggest learning from this is: “You can do it no matter what!” She focused on learning through personal life experiences and growing as an entrepreneur. Looking back on her journey, Anna-Carina would not give any advice to her younger self because she is quite happy with who she is today and all the decisions she has made along the way.
On the pathway to becoming a leader, few moments had left an impact on her. She received negative feedback from her boss, “You rock, girl, but one thing that is holding you back from brilliant success is your emotional side. You need to put more distance between yourself and the surrounding people, then they will respect you more.” She took it, but she parked it in the corner. It made her realize what kind of leader she wanted to become in the future. She continued being that anyway.
A Strong Team and Personal Health
The team and personal health are two important things for Anna-Carina. By building a team, an entrepreneur gets surrounded by talented and dedicated individuals who complement their skills. A strong team is crucial for executing the vision of an entrepreneur effectively. Anna-Carina emphasizes health as entrepreneurship can be all-consuming. However, it is essential to maintain a work-life balance and prioritize physical and mental well-being.
Being open to new opportunities in the future, Anna-Carina does not have any big plans in her mind right now. She is enjoying what she has in the present. She is looking forward to growing apinity and bringing value to the insurance industry one step at a time and seeing what comes next.
According to Anna-Carina, if a book is written about her life story, the title should be ‘Embrace the surrounding chaos‘. The title should encourage the readers to embrace disorder, uncertainty, and unpredictability in their lives. Instead of always seeking order and control, one can find beauty and excitement in chaotic situations. Anna-Carina learned how to manage the chaos, make her degree, work, build up her sports career, and make music at the same time.