5 Minutes with Guy Farley, Co-Founder & CTO at ManyPets

5 Minutes with Guy Farley, Co-Founder & CTO at ManyPets

Co-Founder and CTO at ManyPets

The co-founder of pet insurance company ManyPets has green fingers, is a Tesla convert, and is allergic to cats and dogs!

Describe your journey so far. How did you get to this point?

I did an engineering degree and moved into software with my first role at ICL (now Fujitsu). My last role there was as the Software Development Manager, building the UK’s first online bank for First Direct. I then headed off to work abroad in India and then San Francisco – just in time to watch the tech bubble burst in 2001. After that, I returned to the UK and went through a couple of less successful but very instructional startup experiences, all in technology and financial services.

[ManyPets Chief Executive and Co-Founder] Steven Mendel and I met while working for Close Brothers bank. We happened to be leaving at the same time and cooked up the idea for Bought By Many. In 2017, we pivoted the business into pure pet insurance, to create what is now ManyPets.

How many pets do you have, and what are their names?

Ironically, I am allergic to cats and dogs – much to my kids’ annoyance! So we have a couple of guinea pigs, Choccy and Caramel.

Who was your childhood hero and why?

As a teenager, I was a mad keen hockey keeper. Ian Taylor was the GB keeper when they won Olympic gold. I was also a keen climber and read about the adventures of Al Rouse, Chris Bonnington and Doug Scott.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

I guess it has to be to ‘throw my hat in the ring with Steven’ and start ManyPets.

What inspires you in insurtech or insurance today? 

Like most engineers, I enjoy solving problems and building solutions. Insurance looks simple to customers, but, as readers of this will know, it is far from simple; it throws up interesting technical challenges everyday.

What’s one fintech you use yourself on a regular basis?

Having worked at First Direct for a couple of years and built version one of online banking, I am a loyal customer for life! I think they are the original fintech.

What’s one piece of technology that you couldn’t live without?

I have a Tesla. I’ve never really been into cars, and this is the first one I’ve ever actually wanted to drive rather than doze in the passenger seat.

Describe yourself in three words.

Calm, relentless, terrible-at-small-talk!

ManyPets secured unicorn status in 2021 after its Series D round. That must have been a really validating experience personally.

It was obviously somewhat surreal but, as anyone that has been through fundraising knows, it takes months, so by the time it completes, it is more of a relief! It was, of course, a huge validation of the work that everyone involved had put into ManyPets over the previous decade. But it also ramps up the pressure and expectations; we still have lots of work to do to make ManyPets a global force in pet health, so it’s straight back to the grindstone.

Can you talk to us about the sort of business you’ve built at ManyPets? How important is the company culture? 

There are lots and lots of pet owners and lovers at ManyPets, and, although that is part of our culture, much more important is how people treat and look after each other. I’ve heard numerous times that ManyPets is the most caring and inclusive company many of our people have ever worked for. There are always going to be tough times in business, especially during difficult economic periods, but a culture of caring goes a long way to getting through those.

How tough was it to decide to rebrand as ManyPets, and what advice would you give to founders who think their branding no longer reflects their values?

Firstly, I would say, we took years from first wanting to change the name to taking the plunge. We spent ages (and quite a bit of money) searching through a raft of names and ended up back at the one we first thought of. We had an equal number of very credible voices advising us not to do it as we did advising us to do it. In the end, it was just about going for it. My one piece of practical advice for anyone building a business now would be to register a URL that is not related to your business; we have policies.io for example, and use that for all the SaaS services your business relies on. So changing your trading name doesn’t require changes to a whole bunch of SaaS tools and integrations.

Is there a personal achievement from the last 12 months you’re particularly proud of?

I built a natural beehive by hollowing out a log and putting it in a tree; it now has a colony of wild bees in it.

What was the last book you read and when?

I am currently reading a book on how to create a forest garden. It’s amazing what small variety of edible plants we eat now. The next project is to plant a small forest garden for the bees to pollinate.

What can we expect to see next from ManyPets?

I very much hope you will see ManyPets making a mark on the US pet insurance market and moving more and more from being a pure pet insurer to being a pet health company.


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