SINGAPORE – After spending more than a decade as a globe-trotting executive, Ruth Haller started feeling the corporate burnout. She pursued a part-time MBA and decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Straight out of university she had started her career with Zurich Insurance Group, where she stayed and worked for the next ten years and went on to hold several positions. Her last position with the company was as the risk manager for Asia Pacific region.
“I enjoyed being in the risk function as it gave me the full overview of the company, however after a few years I felt that I was far too removed from the frontline business. I had even shadowed someone else in a customer facing function to get exposure to other parts of the business,” said Ruth.
However, she realised that she could no longer be a part of the corporate world and decided to venture out on her own. In her role as a risk manager, she had learnt to plan, set milestones to track progress and multitask – all skills that are necessary to run one’s own business.
Her journey as a business owner started in 2015 when she started a cookie business called Sugar Sisters with a friend. “After completing my MBA I made the decision that the best way to learn about business is to actually venture out and start one myself. And that’s what I did in Hong Kong with my first venture. We baked and sold cookies through our website and a few cafes,” recalls Ruth.
Running this business that her husband looked at as a hobby, Ruth learnt every aspect of running a business. The experience stood her in good stead when she found herself following her husband to Singapore two years later. Bitten by the entrepreneurship bug, she decided to bank on her expertise in the insurance sector. The company she co-founded is Anapi, an insurtech platform that helps startups and entrepreneurs get business insurance easily and clears all the hassles they face in managing their insurance policies.
Talking about the driving factors that led her in this direction, Ruth says, “Commercial insurers have focused their efforts mostly on traditional businesses. Startups and entrepreneurs are much more digital savvy and are already transacting other business processes online, yet insurance was not available via digital means.” Her company stepped in to fill this all-important gap.
Another problem that Anapi solves is matching the right insurance providers with the small businesses and startups. “Many insurers shy away from insuring startups as they are deemed as too risky, making it difficult for startups to even find the right insurers for their needs,” she explains.
“Initially, we were knocked back by quite a few insurers who did not want to partner with us on offering tailored products specific to startups and small businesses. We just had to keep trying and getting out there and talking to more insurers and getting introduced to more people who could vouch for us,” added Ruth.
Eventually, the company was able to partner with several innovative insurers to bring customised and optimised insurance to start ups. Her moment of pride came when Anapi launched the first business cyber insurance product in the Singapore market that can be purchased completely online.
“I feel successful when our team is able to execute an idea and bring it to fruition. I also define our success based on how satisfied our clients are, especially when they recommend our services to others,” she says when asked whether she considers her entrepreneurial journey being a success.
Ruth gets inspired by reading about and speaking to other founders about their humble beginnings, the many pivots they had to make with their business before finding their success. “Entrepreneurship can sometimes be lonely with lots of ups and downs, so it’s really inspiring to learn from others’ journeys and to be encouraged by their perseverance,” she says. This is also her advice to the aspiring entrepreneurs. Make sure you get connected with others and find a mentor, she tells them.