Eric Mignot has built an impressive and profitable business by doing what others wouldn’t or couldn’t. Not only has that meant billions in revenues, but acquiring many other companies along the way too. His venture +Simple has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Speedinvest, Tikehau Capital, Eurazeo, and KKR Real Estate Finance Trust.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How to successfully integrate companies you acquire
- Eric Mignot’s top advice when launching a business of your own
- Why you shouldn’t try to keep your new business idea a secret
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About Eric Mignot:
Eric Mignot joined Suez in 1994 as an international controller before becoming CFO of Lyonnaise des Eaux Latin America in Argentina. After graduating from INSEAD MBA in 98, he co-founded Certant, a digital consulting firm in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Back in France, he headed the development of CaixaBank in France before merging it with Boursorama. He was MD of Boursorama France for the successful launch of the digital banking activity in 2005. In 2010 he became MD of Hiscox Insurance company for 5 years before founding +Simple, 1st digital insurance broker for SMEs, professionals, and sole traders.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro: Alright, hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a very exciting founder. You know a founder that is building a rocket ship. You know like their introtech. You know he say acquiring companies left and right and is one of the very few that is profitable. So I think that we’re going to be learning a lot about building scaling. And everything in between. So I guess without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today Eric Mignot: Minot welcome to the show.
Eric Mignot: Um, thank you hi very nice so to be with you today.
Alejandro: So let’s let’s do a little of a walk through memory Lane Eric Mignot: so you were born in France so tell us about life growing up.
Eric Mignot: Ah, yeah, actually it was long time ago because I’m 52 now. Um I think it was pretty exciting at that time. Ah, you know a lot of transformation since ah I was born ah in ah in in in France but I always dreamt of. You know going abroad and visiting other countries and going to late in AmEric Mignot:a and I fulfilled my dream a few years later when I left for Mexico and started my career in Mexico.
Alejandro: So how do you? How do you land the Mexico so.
Eric Mignot: Actually it was you know my readings. Ah when I I was young and you know I read a lot about ah Latin AmEric Mignot:a and I really really really wanted to go to Chile and actually the only opportunity I found was a few kilometers north of Chile in Mexico and. Um, at that time caruslim ah was taking over Terrephono Mexico ah the local teleicationer and he was joined by Fran TEric Mignot:com the french the telecommunication apperatorator to do that. So I joined that team and it was very exciting times. Ah. Transforming the telecommunication industry and that’s in AmEric Mignot:a.
Alejandro: And how is working in Latin AmEric Mignot:a and that mindset in Latin AmEric Mignot:a to perhaps you know more of the european mindset.
Eric Mignot: I think this is ah the land of entrepreneurship by excellence because you know like in all Europe ah, you have a lot of social norms, etc, etc that kind of stick to who you are um and kind of hinder you from. Being totally free ah to be an entrepreneur I seen them latin amEric Mignot:an people don’t really care about who you are and um is when you are foreign now right? So it’s basically about what you can do and how you do it that is important. Um that is really where. I think I created or I I ah become self-confident into being an entrepreneur.
Alejandro: Now in your case I mean you, you’ve definitely been. You know on all types of fronts I mean you even were the cfo at the at swi. So I mean you’ve come from business development to Cfo. So it sounds like you are a man of different hats right.
Eric Mignot: Exactly like training my adaptability. Ah you know through ah different industries. Um and different um jobs actually but ah, these. Ah, was really a good ah training to um, understand and adapt properly to what makes a difference in an industry because ah if you lived through the transformation of the telecommunication industry like ah thirty years ago and then ah of what is ah becoming with utilities at the time where utilities were totally transforming the world and and then going to the banking industry and the insurance industry that gives you a lot of like framework of understanding what is happening in in the industry pretty rapidly and. This is where everything came from about building my company. Ah you know, ah like spotting the right opportunities in the insurance industry.
Alejandro: And in your case I mean even you know late 90 s that’s where you kind of like got your feet wet with perhaps you know doing your own thing. So what happened there with certaint.
Eric Mignot: Um, um, it was very funny because at that time I was working for um and Accenture was still the Anderson Consulting in Latin AmEric Mignot:a and very like we saw that. Something was happening right? with what was you know the beginning at the very beginning of the internet and its impact on the economy and ah with one of my colleagues ah from harvardard business school. We identified spotted a lot of opportunities. Um. Ah, spotted the opportunity to create our own consulting companies and like going you know to implement. Ah the first and digital ah retail platform in Argentina the None online banking platform. Ah in Argentina. Ah. You know helping you ah like the likes of None and t in Mexico about their digital strategy and working in Brazil so it was really very exciting times of transformation in Latin AmEric Mignot:a um we we grew certain up to 70 people and it’s still operating today in in Latin AmEric Mignot:a
Alejandro: And and in said you know where you did your Nba you know? Great great community. You know, great founders that come out of in setad and as the saying goes you know once an entrepreneur entrepreneur always an entrepreneur entrepreneur right? I mean this was obviously your your None rodeo but not it was not going to be the last now I guess my question is.
Eric Mignot: See yeah.
Alejandro: Why did it take you, you know so long to go and and start ah your next company.
Eric Mignot: Um, ah it. It’s a very good question though that I haven’t I smart safe but probably um, it’s a lot has a lot to do with self confidence. Um, and you’re feeling ready and feeling that. You know things are coming together for you to be ah you know in the right place with the right people funding the right partners ah to set up the company and at some point I got so like frustrated by copyright twelves that I saw no other issue that. You know after Twenty Five Euros in coppo 12 to set up again. My company was ah plus simple and this is basically what I did that 45 like seven years ago yes him
Alejandro: It I mean it took literally 14 years Eric Mignot: I mean 14 years is is not not not a small amount of time I mean 14 years where you know you were in Kaisha in Ka Sha Bank you know you were in bosarama you know you obviously you know took different different positions. But I guess what I guess that that shaped or helped you in shaping more the idea of ah plus simple. So at what point do you think that plus simple you know, really came you know to mind from an idea because as they say. Ideas they take time to incubate their even doormant there in in our mind and we don’t even know that they’re there. But I guess what were those sequence events from ideation all the way to the launch of the business.
Eric Mignot: Yeah, it was actually it was pretty simple. Um I mean plus simple was born based on ah like all the frustration I had as you know Ceo of an insurance company seeing all the transformation in the industry and at the same time. Like um, we needed to you know, ah start again from the blank sheet of paper in order to really transform the industry and and basically what I saw when I was you know an Md at a his called sychr company. You’re very innovative and. And a very strong insurance company a specialist insurance company. Ah basically what I saw is ah that for small commercial clients like um, you know a a taxi driver or a pharmacist or whatever. Um, when you want to ensure all of your risk you’re being asked None questions you’re going to sign between 5 to None policies you’re going to receive None pages of paper at a time where you know technology is transforming everything. So basically I knew ah we had to invest like over none to create you know the the technology that was really going to transform the industry. And at some point this is what I did so I just left ah his co and then set up ah plus simple.
Alejandro: Yeah, so then tell us about plus simple you know more more specifically for the people you know that are listening what ended up being the ah business model of Plus simple. You know how do you guys make money. Yeah.
Eric Mignot: Okay, so it’s again, it’s pretty simple. Um, so you’re a you know, small, professional clients. Ah you want to ensure all of your risks and you’re going to connect to the plus simple platform we have created the technology that digitized ah the full value chain. So basically. Your Johns Smith ‘ um, ah tattoo shop. You’re going to connect on the platform you’re going to uncertain easy to understand questions. You’re going to receive a thispo proposal to cause all of your risks so you can ensure your activity your office your car your health. Ah your like personal protection. Sign online para nine and get immediately in charge and then the machine is going to split that premium that ah you paid into 5 different ins into 15 different risk concepts and automatically manage you know all the information. Ah that is fed back to the in. So. It’s really a transformation of the industry where all that would have taken you know days a lot of paper. Ah you know, exchanged by all the parties in the value chain. So technology is really changing everything and and there we are taking a commission a recurring commission. So basically if you if you pay None ah Eu or dollar per premium then we would get a cat of around 20% recurring over time and this is how we pay for our services.
Alejandro: And why why no one wants to ensure you know uber drivers or tattoo shops. What’s the deal.
Eric Mignot: It’s an interesting one. What we see for small professional clients. It’s It’s very specific actually because you need to understand who those guys are how they work what are their risks and ah, you need some technical you know entrance technical ah ah human Capability. To Ins ensure for very specific and very small risks. So um, in a viable cost industry such as entrance which is lacking a lot of of technology. This is very costly and at the same time. Ah ah the revenue the premium and the and the commissions you’re getting is very low. So if you don’t have technology. Basically it’s not Profitable. So What is happening is ah overall 40% of the small professional clients like independent ah workers, Soul traders, etc. Ah, tend to struggle to get inure because they have specific risks complex risks and at the same time. Nobody wants to ensure them So this is basically what pressimple is doing is focusing on those risks that nobody wants to ensure that represent 40% of the overall market. Ah so it’s a huge opportunity. A lot of value for the client. Lot of value for the small brokers we are working with to provide solutions to those small clients.
Alejandro: Ah, it sounds like you also have been very intentional about making the company profitable I mean that’s not normal for an Insur take a type of operation. So so why? why was that the case. So.
Eric Mignot: Um, yes.
Eric Mignot: I think um, probably because when I co-founded press simple is 45 ah I lived through you know, ah the you know internet bubble ah explosion and I knew that at the end of the day if you want. Ah to build the sun company. You need to be profitable right? And um, of course. Ah there are those like winner tax all type of dynamics. But I mean there are so few winners in that competition to overthrow money. You know just to build a leadership position. We decided to create a profitable company since ah, the beginning and six years after creating play simple we broke even so now we are profitable and probably one of the only inch of tech in the world to to to be profitable.
Alejandro: And and then you know in terms of financing because you guys have raised money to I mean how much capital have you raised whether it’s equity or debt.
Eric Mignot: So basically we raised none in a series a and b so it’s you know compared to most of the inter textts tiny amounts ah that brought us who um you know? ah. 20 you none of revenues and ah 75000000 eu of premium. Um, and then ah once we were profitable. We raised debt and we just announced a rom with kick air um of a None that’s basically debt to finance our development and finance m and a because actually something also original ah is that we bought None small companies. Ah that we integrated on our platform for the past two years
Alejandro: And we’ll we’ll talk about the M and a strategy in just a little bit but but let’s dig a little bit deeper there on on what you just mentioned I mean on ah on an insure tech operation like this I mean how do you have to think about equity and ind debt.
Eric Mignot: It’s an interesting one actually equity should be there to finance your R and D and and you know put you in a position where you really have built a solid asset then that asset should be the one that. You know, allow you to generate revenues and and stop working even and this is basically what we did and once you break even then this is where depth is coming in and ah helping you leverage the assets ah that you have bills but you know like paying back. With the profitability you’re generating the debt that allow you to further invest in your development.
Alejandro: And in and in this case I mean in terms of the what you were alluding to the acquisitions. You know that’s very interesting I mean you’ve done already None acquisitions. You’ve raised more money to do more acquisitions. Why why? the m and a route How do you guys see the m and a route as same. As as part of the growth and.
Eric Mignot: So that is another you know peculiarity of our model which is basically that we decided ah to engage into programmatic m and a so the name of the game for us was be able to execute industrially smaller acquisitions. That we would integrate on our platform and that would generate a lot lot of syargies because we are basically ah buying so subscale entrance operations that up subscale because they did not invest in technology. Ah they have like aging fund theirs and um. They are ah fragile in in terms of um, you know if ah they have some address you know, effect from you know a covid situation for instance, um, they can be ah ah you know in a difficult situation. So basically what we do is we. Offer ah to the founders. A very nice you know consolidation exit. Ah we put all their know- how on in our ah tech platform and then we leverage these None small brokers distributors. We’re working with. To accelerate revenue growth. So basically we are just multiplying by a factorile five ah their profitability by doing so and this is creating a lot of value and at the same time because ah they are small ah nobody wants to buy them right? and the natural consular data in the industry. Ah, not interested to buy those small companies and those small companies you know exist all over Europe so there is a huge playground for us to consolidate all those small you know in transpirations and put them ah on our platform so disability what to doing.
Alejandro: And I mean as they say most um acquisitions you know they fail but when where they really do Fail is on the integration. So how have you thought about you know, Obviously if if you’re making acquisitions a really important piece of the of the operation here and the long-term growth of the business.
Eric Mignot: Um, yeah.
Alejandro: You probably thought really deep into how the integration you know should be handled. So could you walk us through that.
Eric Mignot: Yeah, yeah, yes, so um, that was you know an obsession since ah, the beginning which was basically big programmatic that means creating the tools from a process standpoint and from an it standpoint that would allow us to basically kill. The legacy of the targets. Ah within max 2 years and this is basically what we have done which is developing all the tools that us to basically stay with zero legacy and on average we are currently integrating in eighteen months and we should be able to do it in twelve months and probably in nine months ah you know by the end of next zero. So basically we are in the process where we have 0 legacy ands. You know, reducing drastically the risk of failing ah to create value with ah those.
Alejandro: And when it comes to the integration where you have different pieces. You have the customers. You have the the technology or or the product and then you also have the team so out of those 3 which one would you say is the toughest one to integrate and.
Eric Mignot: Acquisitions.
Eric Mignot: Um, yeah, yeah.
Alejandro: And how what kind of measures have you guys put in place to make sure that you know there’s no issues.
Eric Mignot: Yeah, on on the customer front. Usually when we do integrate ah those targets. Ah we tend to improve the quality of the offer because we are bigger so we can negotiate better conditions for the clients. Um, so that is taken care of and ah you know the renewal rate of the termurm that we see is is minimal on the None operations. Ah we have done then on ah the processes mit etc. Um. As I explained welo our platform to immediately plug in on ah onto the target system download all the information and start operating the business directly on our own platform thereby like. Yeah, you know digitizing totally ah the integration process from a 90 year standpoint then from the people side we tend to buy very small operations and usually what happens is we tend to ah consolidate the relationship. With the people who like the underwriters or the founders and then we have a number of administrative people that’s in many cases just keep the company because they are no longer require to apparent something. That’s fully digitized afterwards. So um, this is basically how things are how things go.
Alejandro: I got it and now and now for the people that they that are listening here. You know to get ah an idea of the scope and size of the operation. How any anything that you can share in terms of number of employees or anything else that you feel comfortable sharing.
Eric Mignot: Yeah, yeah, basically um, those operations are very small between let’s say None to maybe none ah revenues in terms of commissions. So we tend to see operations that are parted by. Probably none people max and the funds tend to be between None to seventy years old the oldest founder. Ah um, from the company company. We bought in italy um, and and basically this is showing that. Those people most of the time are struggling. You know to exit. Ah that company because ah they are too small. They are subskin and we are offering a very nice alternative for them to you know exit. Ah the ah the business.
Alejandro: And and what about plus Simple I mean how big is plus simple today. What.
Eric Mignot: So we are going to close this here with 35,000,000 eu old commissions which is going to be around 12,070,000,000 Euro premium and you can compare I mean some of the in short texts have raised. Like hundreds of millions to reach. Ah, you know, ah none ah premium mapped. So we have been very very you know equity efficient in terms of developing the ah the ah the business and we are probably None of the biggest. In short take for commercial risks in the world.
Alejandro: Now the word insure tech you know, obviously in 2022 it’s a much much better understood that in 2015 when you guys got started I mean how how how have you seen you know the insure tech space. You know change you know from then until now.
Eric Mignot: Um, sneak it there. Um, yeah.
Eric Mignot: What is what is quite interesting I would say there are 3 categories. None category is like the directtoconsumer place. Um that I’ve seen. Enormous investments in marketing and acquisition costs etc. Um, some very big ah large ipos ah like in the us and like challenging stories in terms of value creation long term. Because basically they are parting in the commoditized market where the name of the game is acquisition cost and price right? because it’s commoditized products. So if you want to ensure your home It’s pretty straightforward right? Um, so there there are some challenges ah around. What is exactly the values that is being created by in shortte I see a second ah ah trend which are ah the inch tech that are collaborating ah with ah incumbents ah providing new tools in terms of Ai for instance. Shift technologies a very nice french and shortte all around the world a unicorn and those guys ah really are performing very well and creating a lot of value for be ah for the industry and then ah there are some otherss like us that are a bit more niche. Um, but. You know, really also ah positioning themselves on places in the industry where technology is really changing. Ah the game and creating value for the clients and creating value for the industry and this is explaining why we’re been to efficient and. Ah, profitable at the same time.
Alejandro: Now imagine you were to go to sleep tonight Eric Mignot: and you wake up in a world where the vision of plus simple is fully realized what does that world look like.
Eric Mignot: This is a world where you know all those um, small like small ah businesses that are really you know not understanding what insurance can do for them. Ah. Start to realize that insurance has been created ah four thousand years ago ah by entrepreneurs four entrepreneurs right? Ba billionions ah invented entrance to finance. You know their commercial activities or to make. Ah, that commercial activity viable so entrance is actually one of the most precious tool that you know man is invented to make business. Ah you know an attractive place to be and for entrepreneurs to to basically take risks so my dream is ah you know reconciling. Customers with insurance and insurance not being that kind of I don’t really understand the value of you know what insurance can do for me and you know insurance actually can be what makes you ah you know take the risk to be an an entrepreneur. So my dream is really to you know. Make insurance valuable again for entrepreneurs.
Alejandro: So now imagine that I put you to a time machine and I’m able to bring you back in time maybe to that time where you were coming out of inset and doing your and Nba and where you were thinking about like maybe hey you know I want to do something on my own.
Eric Mignot: C.
Alejandro: And imagine you’re able to sit down that younger Eric Mignot: and giving that younger Eric Mignot: you know one piece of advice before launching a business but would that be and why given what you know now. So.
Eric Mignot: Um, um, and I think and yeah, it sounds not very um, you know, consistent with ah the image of entrepreneurs but I would. Teller young Eric Mignot: be humbleble, be humbleble listen listen to the guys that you know went through a number of stories where they learned things and can share with you. You know the good things they did and the bad thing they did and and you know. Being amble and being open to you know your environment makes you very adaptable and you know not being arrogant is probably you know allowing you to avoid making big mistakes.
Alejandro: And how do you go about you know because sometimes it’s tough. You know, especially when you’re young and and you you drink your own koolate and and all of that stuff so you know being humble and being able to listen I mean any. Any guidance or any tips you know for all the young entrepreneurs that maybe are listening now. How should they go about it. So.
Eric Mignot: Yeah, it’s I think it’s ah you know it’s one of the thing when when you start entrepreneurship is I’m jealous of my idea right? I have a fantastic idea I want that idea bring that idea to the market and I want to keep it. Relatively sacred right in order for me to make sure that I’m the only one to have that idea Unim implement it and actually it’s a big mistake I mean when you you have an idea. Ah you should tell everybody that you have that idea and you start being challenged. And listen to how people are challenging you and improving your idea and making sure that it’s robust enough you know afterwards to answer. Ah you know the question of the clients. The question of your partners. The question of your your of your people the questions of the investors. So really, you know like confronting your idea to the market and to as many people as you can actually is a good idea. It’s not about you know, being jealous about your ideas and keeping it secret because at the end of the day. This is not what’s gonna make you rich right.
Alejandro: I love it so Eric Mignot: for the people that are listening. You know that would like to reach out and say hi. What is the best way to do so. So.
Eric Mignot: Um, I mean ah Linkedin is is is perfect I am I’m bringing a my Linkedin and and responding to ah to the ah the chories ah that I get through Linkedin.
Alejandro: Amazing! Well hey Eric Mignot: thank you so much for being on the dealmakerr show. It has been an honor to have you with us.
Eric Mignot: Um, thank you alejaro.
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