As the CEO and co-founder of the Berlin-based rental and property insurtech, INZMO, Meeri Savolainen is enjoying the challenge of a rapidly changing marketplace. She tells us what inspires her and why a good work ethic is essential to success.
Who was your childhood hero and why?
My parents. They’ve always been one of my biggest influences as well as my biggest supporters. My mother came from a humble background without the sorts of opportunities and privileges so many of us take for granted. She was extremely hard working but also was pragmatic and straightforward. Reflecting back, her work ethic was immense and it was incredibly inspiring to see what she was able to achieve. This has certainly impacted me and my determination to succeed.
My father taught me to look at the world through the prism of humour. He has a way with words, is a brilliant storyteller, and is really engaging. His sharp wit and ability to make people laugh never fails to hold people’s attention. I always wanted to be as funny as he is! Humour is so important - some would say you need it in our industry! I’ve really valued these characteristics in my parents and they’ve made me the person I am today.
What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice was to ask me this question before I embark on any project: “Why are you/we doing this?”
The important thing about business is not what you do, but why you do it and I’ve applied this to both my professional and personal life. It helps to eliminate the noise around you, gives a purpose and meaning to your actions, and motivates you to achieve whatever goal you’re working towards. This is how I talk through company objectives with my teams and ensures we’re all on the same page and highly motivated.
What activities are you most looking forward to doing once life gets back to normal?
I had travelling plans in place before the pandemic to explore Asia and the US and I’m really looking forward to revisiting these. I’m also a huge fan of the arts, it’s been a big part of my life. I love classical music and opera and am a regular theatergoer with a particular passion for comedy shows.
In my native Estonia, we have a wealth of talented young performers who, like elsewhere in the world, have struggled with theatre closures. It’s so important we support our local arts venues and I will definitely be back in the theatre and opera houses as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Is there a personal achievement from the past 12 months of which you are particularly proud?
On a personal level, I’ve learned to become more patient! As a fast-growing startup and working in digital insurtech which rewards hyperspeed, I’ve been used to quick fixes, being always on, and having the same expectation of my teams.
The pandemic however changed all of our working lives. No longer working in person with colleagues meant I wasn’t always aware of their personal situations (and vice versa) and how they were having to adapt to address unforeseen challenges resulting from the crisis.
And, because of that, it was important for us all and particularly the senior team members to be better listeners, more respectful of individual situations, and understanding of the need for flexible working patterns as we found it had a direct impact on levels of creativity, productivity, and collaboration.
What inspires you in insurtech today?
The sheer potential for new innovations and technology to transform the insurance space is huge and there are plenty of opportunities to add value in the sector today. There is a clear opportunity for the consumer to benefit massively from digitisation and as it’s still in its infancy relative to other sectors I’m excited to be playing a role in driving this forward.