The Art of Company Building: wefox
Disrupting the $5.2 Trillion Global Insurance Industry
German startup wefox recently raised $650 million, one of the largest Series C rounds of all time. That’s the kind of funding it takes to disrupt the massive, $5.2 trillion global insurance industry. Julian Teicke, co-founder and CEO of wefox, discusses his plans to revolutionize the insurance industry and how collaborating with Young Sohn has brought him closer to realizing his vision.
Why did you decide to work with Young?
We met about two and half years ago. Wefox had just closed a large Series B round and we were not fundraising at the time. But Young had a very deep understanding of technology and the impact that technology could have on the insurance industry. Young is not an insurance guy, but he quickly saw that wefox had the potential to disrupt insurance on a global scale. He was just a really impressive guy, so we extended the round to allow Young and his partners to invest.
Did Young help you solve any critical business problems?
Over the last six years, we’ve built our company from a handful of people to more than a thousand employees today. I’ve never run a company of this size before. I needed to reinvent myself to cope with the pressure and rise to the challenge. There are few people I can turn to who have gone through a similar experience. But Young is one of them. He’s been through it himself, so I value his advice deeply. By leaning on his wealth of knowledge and experience, I can solve many of my challenges quite quickly.
How has your relationship with Young developed over the years?
Whenever Young is in Berlin, he calls me up and we go on long walks together. We’ve been on more than a dozen walks, and we talk about everything, not just work. That is key. Because life is not just about work and business. I really appreciate the advice he’s given, both on company building and beyond. He really helped sharpen my vision around the use of artificial intelligence on our platform. And he hired an entire advanced innovation team of 15 world-class AI developers. He’s not just talk, he’s all action.
What makes Young unique?
Whenever we meet, Young remembers what we talked about in our previous conversation. He always asks for the latest updates or any progress I’ve been able to make based on his advice and input. I really appreciate that. What I also admire is his endless curiosity. He is interested in every topic under the sun. Even if you start talking about something obscure like French snails in the Ardennes Forest, he jumps into the conversation and gets very excited about it.
What value did Young add to wefox?
The most important thing about investors is not their money; it’s the value they create in terms of networks, strategic advice, and emotional support. Young, for his part, has seen it all. He’s founded, scaled, and invested in early-stage business and run global corporations. So his experience runs across many industries. Young understands that writing the check is only the beginning. His real job is to make sure that his portfolio companies benefit from his insight and experience — and to ensure that small problems do not become big ones.
Can you describe Young in three words?
Disciplined, reliable, and easy to get along with.
What are your thoughts on Walden Catalyst Ventures?
Walden Catalyst is essentially a continuation of what Young, Lip-Bu and the other partners have been doing for a long time now. The fund might have a new name, but the deep-tech philosophy remains the same. This team has an incredible track record and a phenomenal combination of skills and experience. Capital is a commodity and great founders will always have plenty of options. Walden Catalyst is a top choice for the very best startups because it offers so much more than capital.