How Compare.com competes as the Kayak for auto insurance

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Joining me is an entrepreneur who created a company called Compare. I feel like he should be really boastful the fact that he got one of the toughest domains out there.

Andrew Rose is the founder of Compare.com, a place to compare auto insurance prices.

We’re going to find out how he came up with this idea, how he raised money for it, how he got customers, how he actually stood out in a world where Geico spent $1.7 billion in marketing last year.

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Andrew Rose

Andrew Rose

Compare

Andrew Rose is the founder of Compare.com, a place to compare auto insurance prices.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew W.: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are building their businesses. And one of the best things that I’ve had happened to me, Andrew, who is my guest today, is I’ve been traveling the world doing interviews with entrepreneurs on every continent. That is my goal for this year. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing for Antarctica. We’ll see it. Let’s just say, run a marathon on every continent, do interviews all over the world as I travel.

One of the things that I discovered is how many people who’ve listened to interviews like this, Andrew, have picked up a couple of ideas, and then they built up companies and sometimes I say, “Come on here. Let’s do an interview with you.” So I’m excited not just about today’s guest, but about the audience who’s listening to today’s guest, what they’re building and about the fact that one day in the future we’re going to have somebody come on here to do an interview with me and say, “Andrew, I heard that guy, Andrew Rose. The thing that spoke to me was . . . ” There’s a thing that I can’t fill in the gap. You never know what’s going to speak to them.

So joining me is an entrepreneur, Andrew Rose. He created a company called Compare. Andrew, I feel like you should call it compare.com and be really proud and boastful the fact that you got one of the toughest domains out there. All right.

Andrew R.: It was not cheap. Let’s put it that way.

Andrew W.: I bet. It is such a great domain. It gives you so much flexibility to expand. Right now what you’re doing is on Compare you are the Kayak for auto insurance. That means that anyone out there who wants to get auto insurance and wants to compare prices can go to compare.com and find the right price and the right insurance company for them. We’re going to find out how he came up with this idea, how he raised money for it, how he got customers, how he actually stood out in a world where . . . I heard Geico was spending what is it on advertising? 1. how much billion dollars?

Andrew R.: $1.7 billion in marketing last year. That’s a B.

Andrew W.: Sorry. 1. how much billion?

Andrew R.: Seven billion, 1.7 billion.

Andrew W.: By the way, that is up from a number that you gave it to an interview a little while ago. So they are spending more and more and you’ve got to compete against . . . All right. We’re going to find out how he did this thing, and we’re also going to go back to the days when he had these small jobs at state fairs and what he learned from them all thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first, Andrew, as I’m traveling the world I realized I need new clothes. I suck at finding clothes, and partly it’s because I want to look good for interviews with entrepreneurs. I’m interviewing people who built billion-dollar companies. I want to look good for them, but I also want to be comfortable as I travel and not feel like I’m putting on airs. There’s a company called Outerknown. I know I’m going to have to spell them in the ad. I just got a box of clothes from them. I’m going to open it up in this interview. And the second sponsor is the company that will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. I use them to host my website for traveling the world and interviewing entrepreneurs, but I’ll talk about those later. First, Andrew, good to have you here.

Andrew R.: I’m thrilled to be here. And I’m going to join you on your pursuit of a marathon in every continent. I’m only missing a few.

Andrew W.: Really. Which ones are you missing? And is this part of your goal too?

Andrew R.: It is. Obviously, North America was easy, done Australia, done Europe, done South America. I haven’t done Africa and haven’t done Antarctica. I agree with you. The Antarctica one is a bit of a challenge there. Someday, seven marathons, seven days on seven continents.

Andrew W.: Oh, you’re going to do it in seven days. You’re going to do that whole thing.

Andrew R.: That’s the goal.

Andrew W.: Wow, that is insanely hard. I’ve heard people who do it. It’s not just about the running the marathon, it’s about the logistics. It’s about getting yourself up the next day. It’s about the air . . . Wow-wee.

Andrew R.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: What do you get out of pushing yourself to run marathons? I’ve been trying to figure out what the meaning of this is as I’m wrapping up the year and wrapping up my goals. What are you getting out of this out of pushing yourself?

Andrew R.: It’s a challenge. Each one is different. It’s something to continue to prove to yourself that you can do it. I can remember doing that first marathon and it was, “Can I even finish?” And then if I can finish, can I do it in under four hours? And I finished in 3:57. And then my next one I did in 3:04. And just one of those things where like, “Well, can I go faster? Let me see.” It’s just challenging yourself, and I think it flows well into the business context as well as can you challenge yourself to build something and ultimately succeed? Whatever definition of success is for you.

Andrew W.: One of the things that I remember it did for me was when I was really having a hard time in business, I couldn’t control every aspect of business and I also felt like I couldn’t get myself confident enough to deal with it or headspace ready to deal with it. I would go for a run and because I ran faster or further than I thought I could, I’d go into the office feeling like, “All right. I could do this.” Do you feel that too?

Andrew R.: Absolutely. It’s what . . . If I miss a workout, you know, folks say, “Oh, I take X number of days off.” I don’t take days off. It is something that energizes weekday, weekend, a race. I love having those challenges, those goals out there. It clears your mind, lets you think. And I’ve gotten into triathlons as the years go by. I don’t necessarily enjoy. Man, is it a moment when you can sit there splashing the water? You’re not distracted by your phone, you’re not distracted by anything else. You can swim and think. And it really helps you.

Andrew W.: You’ve done a lot with this business. I saw Brian Benson, our producer talk to you looking for a metric of success. And it’s really hard in your industry. We asked you about, like, revenue, number of users. It’s in the millions and millions, but largely it’s . . . I don’t know how to find meaning in it. What do you use as a metric to tell you that you are growing year to year?

Andrew R.: Well, you can see the number of visitors we have to the web [inaudible 00:05:22] of things. But the piece that really motivates you is when you hear the stories of people actually saving. The auto insurance . . . I mean, of all the categories of products that you’ve had on your podcast, tons of them, we’re going to be high on the list for most boring. Okay. This is not a sexy product. It’s not a sexy category, but it is something that everybody has to purchase. It’s the only product that I’m aware of that both the buyer and seller hope it’s never used. Think about everything else, the clothes that you just described. You want to use them. That’s why you purchased them. Your auto insurance, not the case.

Andrew W.: So you did kind of go a little messianic with Brian in the producer conversation about why you care about this. I thought it was actually helpful that you acknowledge the boring part of it. I don’t think he gave you enough space to go over the part that matters. What is your mission? Why do you care about auto insurance, Andrew? You could do so many other things.

Andrew R.: Well, I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. And it is an incredibly beautiful place if you haven’t been, but it is not one of the most economically advantaged areas.

Andrew W.: Give me a specific. Like, what goes on there that would help me identify that it’s not doing well?

Andrew R.: You get a lot of people there that go out of high school. I think it was 9% of my high school class went on to college.

Andrew W.: Oh, I thought you were going to say the opposite even . . .

Andrew R.: So it’s just . . .

Andrew W.: Yes.

Andrew R.: The universe of possibilities seems very limited. And there were many of my classmates that hadn’t traveled 30 or 40 miles away from their home in their life.

Andrew W.: What’s the part that bothered you the most that when you looked at your life you said, “I have to work harder because . . . “?

Andrew R.: I want more.

Andrew W.: More what? What was it that you saw that made you say, “I want more”?

Andrew R.: So I grew up in the town White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. And some of your listeners will be pulling that up on a map going, “Where in the heck is that?” It has another claim to fame. It is where a resort is located called the Greenbrier. The Greenbrier is one of the most beautiful places that you will ever see, 6,500-acre resort. Your listeners should hit pause, look it up real quick to a picture and then come back.

Andrew W.: What is it called? I want to look it up right now as we talk.

Andrew R.: The Greenbrier. It is stunning, beautiful white hotel resort. And it is for the rich and famous, the wealthy.

Andrew W.: I see it.

Andrew R.: In that town on the wrong side of the fence. And so you could see what it had. And while I don’t necessarily have a desire to be filthy rich, I want to be comfortable. And when I saw what they had and how I grew up, and my mother was incredible, provided so much for myself, my brother, my sister, but there was so much more that I saw we could have.

Andrew W.: What was it that bothered you that you didn’t have?

Andrew R.: It drove it. What’s that?

Andrew W.: What was it that bothered you that you didn’t have?

Andrew R.: Well, a bike.

Andrew W.: A bike. Got it.

Andrew R.: One of those things when I was growing up and I wanted a mountain bike and my mother was focused on making sure we had a roof over our head and food on the table. And so she said, “If you want a bike, you got to get the money for a bike.” And so that started my pursuit of, “How do I get money? I can rake leaves. I can shovel snow.” I mean, I was a kid at this point in time. Quite slowly, but surely. You’re making enough money. And then I went up to our town. We had a little store called the Western Auto Store auto parts, but they sold bikes as well. And I bought a red mountain bike with my own money. Most prized possession I had for years and years and years. And it showed me that if I worked hard, was creative and inventive, I could have some of the things I wanted. It started with a bike and then rolled beyond there.

Andrew W.: Tell me a little bit about the state fair jobs that you had and what influence they had on you. And we’re, of course, going to get to Compare in a bit, but I want to get to know you a little bit.

Andrew R.: Sure. West Virginia State Fair. So now I liked doing this raking leaves, liked doing the shoveling snow, but leaves only fall in the fall. Every time you only have this, I got to mow yards, etc. Now, it’s like, “How can I make more money?” Well, at age 14, that was the minimum age to start working, I went to the State Fair of West Virginia. And I had three jobs over the span of 9 or 10 days when the state fair was in town. At 6:00 a.m. you would get up and you would help park cars till 10:00. And then from 10:00 to 6:00 I worked in one of the many little restaurants that are there serving food, taking orders, cleaning up, those kinds of things. And then at 6:00 I went and worked at the grandstand and I sold Pepsi. Those folks that are walking up and down the stairs, you were shouting, “Pepsi here.” I got a quarter per one you sold. It was a buck 25, I get the quarter, I had to give $1 back to the folks downstairs filling the cups. And I ended that week usually with around $500 and I thought I was on top of the world.

Andrew W.: Five hundred dollars from one quarter at a time?

Andrew R.: One quarter at a time as well as other jobs there. But it was nine days of showing me that I can work hard and I could make money and I liked that equation.

Andrew W.: I saw you had a series of jobs. Engineer at DuPont, Project Manager CapitalOne, etc. Was there a point before you started as the CEO of a company, as the head of a company where you felt like, “All right. I think I did it. I’m now comfortable . . . ” Or not as comfortable as you want it to be as you dreamt of being. “I’m safe.”

Andrew R.: Safe is never a feeling I think I’ve ever had because it came to me . . . Now I’ve had a very successful career, but I also remember where I started and feel like at any moment, you could lose it all because if you didn’t have it, you know what it’s like to gain it along the way. My career spans in engineering start that ultimately ended up away from there. I found out while at DuPont that I didn’t want to be an engineer. Unfortunately, I was entering my senior year. It’s kind of late at that point in time in college to go, “Oh, I don’t want to do this anymore.”

But I had a wonderful counselor that encouraged me to get a business minor. And I loved it. I saw how I could take the practical applicability of my engineering skills and turn it into something in the business environment. And that has been one of the equations that’s worked for me throughout my career is dovetailing an analytical background to attack business problems. It starts with Shell where you work on project management this, that, and the other, ultimately, to CapitalOne helping build firm’s the .com functionality. I worked on some of the original online banks, some of the account online account servicing for credit cards. I mean, we all take it for granted that we can log in and service our credit. This was the early 2000s. This was new functionality. It was new capabilities.

Andrew W.: At some point, you discovered Elephant. What was Elephant and how did you discover it?

Andrew R.: Well, discovering it, we created it. So, after business school, my wife was pregnant with our first. And while I wanted to run off to Chicago or New York or somewhere and work in management consulting, I got an offer from my dream consultancy. She’s like, “But my job is here. Is there any way we can stay here in Richmond?” And so I did what all freshly-minted MBAs do. I went into auto insurance. Not the most sexy thing in the world, but I found an industry that was fascinating, very data [inaudible 00:13:06] a product category that is unique.

And I enjoyed it, but I was missing that entrepreneurial vibe. I wanted something that still had that desire to create something that I’d had all the way back from when I was a kid. And I got a phone call, as sometimes happens from headhunters, that said, “Hey, we want somebody to help build and potentially ultimately run an auto insurance business from scratch.” Well, I now know how to do that. So that was my foray into auto insurance.

Andrew W.: But how did you know how to start an auto insurance from scratch?

Andrew R.: Well, I knew how to do auto insurance, and so from that standpoint, sometimes and this is probably an important lesson for lots of the entrepreneurs out there, is you’re not going to know. You can’t.

Andrew W.: You can’t know everything, but . . . And so you’re saying when you were a product manager at . . . Was it Progressive that you learned how to do this?

Andrew R.: Progressive. That’s right.

Andrew W.: For three years there. And so you just saw how an auto insurance worked. And what was it that the company that sent the headhunter to find you? What was it that they were looking for? Someone to do what?

Andrew R.: Somebody who had experience. This is a . . . There’s not an enormous amount of auto insurance experts in the world, and I can now at least somewhat count myself as one of them. And so they were looking for somebody that had that drive that wanted to start something from scratch. And it’s a bit different, though. It’s not sure entrepreneurship. I describe it as intrapreneurship because here was Countrywide, this is a very large bank that wanted to start an auto insurance business from scratch. I came in and helped them do that. I didn’t have all the tools and all the experiences I needed, but I had enough of them to be dangerous, and then a drive and a willingness to accept the fact that I didn’t know everything. They let me build something.

Andrew W.: At Countrywide, aren’t they an insurance company?

Andrew R.: Countrywide is rather infamous as the big mortgage. That’s where you know the name. They were the ones that sort of helped us into the mortgage crisis.

Andrew W.: I guess that . . . I assume they also had an insurance company. I guess it’s a different Countrywide that I’m looking at here.

Andrew R.: Correct.

Andrew W.: Got it.

Andrew R.: There’s another Countrywide.

Andrew W.: Interesting. So, you know what? I was trying to figure out who owned Elephant. And interestingly, even when I googled the name “Elephant Auto Insurance,” one of the Google search questions that came up was, “Who owns Elephant Auto Insurance?”

Andrew R.: Correct.

Andrew W.: So I guess I’m not the only person who’s searching for it, but I think the answer that I kept coming up with was it’s an independent company. Is it an independent company now?

Andrew R.: It’s not. It’s a . . . But it’s . . .

Andrew W.: Subsidiary of Admirable Group. Admiral Group.

Andrew R.: Admiral Group. There you go. You found it.

Andrew W.: Got it.

Andrew R.: So, I’m sitting there at Countrywide having started this business, but now we’re in the middle of the mortgage crisis and so things aren’t looking all that rosy. And you find a company that is looking to start an auto insurance company from scratch in the U.S. And there’s not many people again who can go, “I’ve done that.” And luckily our paths crossed. And Admiral Group remains the owner of Elephant Insurance. I was employee one. I moved over to the UK to learn how they thought about insurance and the methodology and the culture, etc. And then I moved back to the U.S., the beginning of 2009, and built from scratch what is now Elephant Insurance. Hundreds of millions of dollars of premium. I was employee one, hired all the other employees and nine months later from scratch we launched an auto insurance company to the public.

Andrew W.: The ratings on it, again, I just looked it up. One of the things that comes up is the ratings on it are fantastic from regular people. I’m just looking at Google reviews. I’m looking at NerdWallet, things like that and WalletHub, 572 reviews, 4.5 rating out of 5. What did you learn?

Andrew R.: And that’s an auto insurance company.

Andrew W.: Yeah. Right.

Andrew R.: Auto insurance companies don’t tend to get super high ratings because you’re not excited about your auto insurer.

Andrew W.: What . . . Again, what was it that allowed you to stand out with that company? I kind of feel like when it was time for me to find auto insurance, I just went with the ones that I knew. I went to their websites because that’s what I heard about. I got a quote and I said to my assistant, “Can you just figure out what to do? Here’s a folder with all my documents. Just sign me up for that one.”

Andrew R.: So I have to break something to you. You’re normal. And that’s exactly how most people do this auto insurance. They go with the names they know. And that was actually one of the challenges. When I left the UK, we didn’t know what we were going to call this, but when you’re branding something, I think there are two main things that you need to ultimately have is, can it stand out? Is it memorable? And in particular for auto insurance, is it credible?

And if I tell you that Elephant Insurance there, it sticks in your head. You go, “What the heck is an Elephant Insurance?” And we ultimately picked the name because we knew it would stand out. And then we focused on being credible. But our big challenge was just as you described, you went with the names you knew. How do I introduce a brand new auto insurance brand to U.S. consumers when the Geicos, the Progressives, the State Farms, the Allstates, likely the ones that you did quotes for already are bombarding the airwaves? And that was our challenge as we built Elephant.

Andrew W.: So what did you do then to stand out?

Andrew R.: Well, if you look at some of our earliest ads, we tried some very different, unique things trying to ultimately break through the noise that is auto insurance. Another thing is you had to have a compelling product, something that made sure it covered people, so you got to get those high ratings by having good claim service, but you also had to have good prices. At the end of the day, most consumers don’t want to overpay for a product they didn’t want to buy in the first place. So, from that standpoint, you give them compelling prices. That combination allowed us to grow Elephant Insurance.

Andrew W.: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor, and then we’ll get into what happened that then led you to create Compare. So, as I’m telling you, I’m traveling the world and I try to pack lightly and comfortably because I’m going to be spending days and days sometimes just in God knows where.

My favorite was Mongolia. I thought that would be the least attractive. I only went there because I needed to fulfill my Asian marathon. And I realized, well, the only time I can get away from my family to go do this is when it’s summer in Asia. I said, “Okay. Let’s go as far north as I can to get this close to the cold.” I went there and it was unbearably hot. The first day that I got there and landed I said, “I can’t predict this stuff.” I ended up getting up at 3:30 in the morning and going for a marathon that started solo marathon. I started at about 4.

So all that to say is I need to be comfortable, but I also need to look good. And my wife doesn’t have that issue. She is someone who likes to dress up. And she was going to be at a conference recently and someone at her company who feels comfortable calling and telling her things like, “Your outfit needs to change,” said to her, “Olivia, you’re always dressed very formal and very dressy. You’re actually going to put some of the people in the audience . . . You’re going to keep them from feeling comfortable. It’s going to feel like the principal is talking to the high school kid who’s the most interesting class president candidate.”

And so she changed it and I saw a YouTube video of her at the conference, and sure enough, by changing to go a little bit more comfortable, but also looking business-like, she did communicate what she was trying to do, which is, “I’m here. I’m in control of this whole department, but I also relate to the people who are our customers.” And so she has that look that now I am looking for myself.

As I travel I want to get to know people, I want to make them feel comfortable. And so the company that I’ve discovered is . . . Boy, when you see unboxing on YouTube, it looks like they do it so easily. It’s like oh boom, they are. Of course, they are not doing it in real time and I am. I am really excited about Outerknown because what they have is comfortable clothes that will give you a sense of professionalism, but also make you look like you belong everywhere.

So I went on to their website, I picked up my own clothes. I asked Olivia to find the clothes, but she has an intense job so she couldn’t find time to spend looking for clothes for me, which is kind of frustrating. But look, I got a basic t-shirt. Now, I like this t-shirt because it looks like a basic t-shirt, but . . . I mean, it looks . . . It’s a basic t-shirt but it has a sense of a little bit better than what you might get at the Gap, a little bit better than what you would get at H&M. So it feels good. But why is Andrew’s t-shirt just looking a little bit better than other? That’s the feel I was going for. And I’ve got others.

I like this one because I always wear V-neck t-shirts, but I thought, “Let’s have some buttons on there to give me a little bit of a different look.” Frankly, I saw a couple of YouTubers who did unboxing and they had that. Here’s another one in black because I’m kind of boring so I went white and black with that. And then finally, because I always need a long-sleeve warm shirt when I’m on an airplane, I got this long-sleeve button shirt, but it’s not buttoned down, which means I could wrinkle it up, leave it in the shower or next to the shower as I get ready for my day and know that all the wrinkles will come out of it.

Outerknown is a company that did this brand new company . . . Oh, not that new. A fairly new company, which I like. I keep hearing about all these older businesses that are . . . all these older retail operations that are going out of business because young upstarts online companies are just stealing market share from them and Outerknown makes me understand why. They fully get us. Buying from them was just a treat.

And I urge you, if you’re listening to me, to go check Outerknown and I’m going to spell it for you because I know that I talk way too fast. It’s outer as in outside and known as it is the known quantity right now for you. So it’s O-U-T . . . Well, actually, let me tell people what I’m going to give them. I’m going to give you if you sign up right now . . . See what they offered. Our salesperson goes after them and says, “Can you please give people an incentive to go and sign up and buy right now?” Twenty-five percent off.

So here we go. All you have to do is go to outerknown.com and when you check out use the code MIXERGY. I’m going to spell Outerknown. It is outerknown.com. Go look around, see what you like, browse it even as we’re talking if you like in the background, and use the code MIXERGY, M-I-X-E-R-G-Y when you’re ready to buy. I think you’re going to be happy with it. I’m excited about this. I’m taking this to Africa except for the white shirt. I was just told if you wear white shirts on safari, which is where my wife is going with me, you’ll scare the animals. Have you been on . . . No, you haven’t. You haven’t gone to Africa yet for your marathon.

Andrew R.: I’ve to gone to Africa. I haven’t done a marathon there.

Andrew W.: What did you do in Africa?

Andrew R.: [inaudible 00:23:39] summer. Phenomenal experience. You’re going to have a great time . . .

Andrew W.: Good. You know what? The truth is I don’t really care that much about seeing animals. I don’t care about being on safari, but it’s a week away with my wife where we can actually finally talk together. I’m excited about that. And if she wants safari, let’s go to do safari. My thing is I want to get to know the locals. As soon as I land, I want to go out to the nearest club, bar, anything, let’s go restaurant, let’s go talk to everybody. The next morning I want to go and have breakfast and sit next to someone to get . . . Anyway, that’s one of my things. Are you a social person?

Andrew R.: I am social to a degree, but I’m not a social butterfly, but my wife is. She’s more social than I am.

Andrew W.: So, if you have dinner parties or cocktail parties, she’ll be the one who’s talking to more people and helping you get to know them?

Andrew R.: Absolutely. I’ll refill the glasses.

Andrew W.: That is a good matchup, actually. How long have you been married?

Andrew R.: Twenty years.

Andrew W.: Wow. We’re coming up on 10 and so this will be our anniversary in Africa.

Andrew R.: Congratulations.

Andrew W.: Thank you. Why did you leave Elephant in 2011?

Andrew R.: It wasn’t on purpose. So Elephant was doing well. It had gone from baby to toddler mode, so it was stable at this point in time. And Admiral Group, again, is the majority owner of both Compare and owns Elephant, has another business in the UK, and I saw the power of that business, but I also saw something that I wanted to do and it was save people money.

There’s some statistics that are kind of terrifying for folks out there. Fifty-nine percent of the U.S. population has less than $1,000 savings. Thirty-seven have no savings at all. And while I was helping some with Elephant Insurance, I wasn’t always the cheapest price. And I saw the businesses over in Europe that were these price comparison websites, as I describe it, Kayak for auto insurance. I was like, “This is very powerful.” If I brought this over, this could help Elephant because we would be exposed to a lot more people, but it would also help a lot more people save money.

And so I kept asking, “Hey, you guys should bring this business model in the U.S. Bring it to the U.S. Bring it to the U.S.” Eventually they said, “Yes.” The only problem was they said, “Why don’t you do it for us?” And here I was handing over my baby, Elephant Insurance, to someone else to continue to run where I started up compare.com.

Andrew W.: And so, Admiral . . . For some reason, I always want to say admirable. Admiral Group is one of the early investors in the business?

Andrew R.: Correct.

Andrew W.: So is White Mountains? The owner is, I guess . . . Wait. They’re the former owners of Esurance?

Andrew R.: They were the former owners of Esurance. So part of the . . . The first thing that I had to do, so, when Admiral says, “We’re willing to start this business up, but we’re not willing to put all the money in.” They said, “Your challenge is to go out and find some other people who think this is a good idea and see where we can go with this.”

And so in 2012, I was handed the task of raising $100 million. Admiral said, “We’ll put up 70 million. Go find some more investors that will put up the rest.” And White Mountains, Mapfre, and Nationwide were the other folks that ultimately said, “We think this has the real potential to revolutionize shopping for auto insurance in the United States, and we’ll put our money where our mouth is.” And so in May of 2012, we raised upwards of $100 million.”

Andrew W.: I always assumed this type of thing existed. So, if I go to Google and I do “Compare auto insurance prices,” let’s see what comes up.

Andrew R.: Yes. At the top, Geico, then you will see Progressive, then you’re going to see an E Insurance, a State Farm and Allstate. You’re going to also see a bunch of other random names that you’ve never heard of.

Andrew W.: Actually, I’ll tell you what I see. Number one, I have an ad blocker on. It’s very interesting when Google sometimes it knows how to get around the ad blocker and so for high-value keywords like this, it goes around the ad blocker. That’s kind of interesting when they do that. So that’s number one. You’re right that I do see different car insurance. You happen not to hit the same ones, but I do see them. NerdWallet is really good at SEO, and so they’ve got a lot of Google juice. They’re at the top. And then it’s basically . . . I think it’s insurance companies that I’m seeing, but I’m clicking to see. Oh, here. What about something like RateKick? Are they an insurance?

Andrew R.: Nope. So you’re going to start finding as you work your way down random websites that are effectively just referral engines, lead generators that funnel all this random traffic to a variety of websites. And all the insurance companies use them, we use them, etc. But it’s not how you’d like to do it. You’re forced to do it. You talked about how high-value terms. Auto insurance tends to be one of the top three most expensive terms to purchase on Google, upwards of $50 per click. Insane.

Andrew W.: And so what these sites that I’m looking at are doing is they’re getting my information and then figuring out who to sell my data to in a sense, right?

Andrew R.: Correct. Correct.

Andrew W.: So I’m going to keep going through this one and let’s see what . . . This is just the questions go on forever. Okay. Got it. So then what’s the complication in creating, like, the Kayak for auto insurance? Why would you need $100 million in order to do that?

Andrew R.: Well, part of it is you got to make sure that people know you exist. And so a large portion of that money went to marketing and advertising. We have done national TV advertising for years, everything you can imagine in the digital space to ultimately try and drive traffic to our website, to keep you from going to an individual insurer or these random websites that you just found. It’s a challenge. And we do better in certain markets than others.

But ultimately, we want to deliver that value promise. If you were to go all the way through these questions that you’re doing now, you get to the end, you’re likely just going to be referred over to another website where you get to start again. You go to compare.com, you enter in that information, you will get back real rates from the insurance companies directly, not manufactured, not guesstimates, rates from the insurance company that you can purchase on the stock. That’s what consumers want. I want to put that savings back in people’s pocket. I bring you back to those almost 60% of the U.S. population that doesn’t have much savings. Let’s give them savings, but let’s make it easy for them to do it. That’s what compare.com is trying to do.

Andrew W.: And that’s the missionary part of your . . . the appeal of Compare to you, that you are saying, “Look, 59% has less than $1,000 in savings, 37% of the country has zero savings completely. I want to find a way to get money back to them.” There are a few different ways to do it, but the easiest one is to say, “Look, you’re buying car insurance anyway. You could be saving money every month. Why don’t we just switch you to a car insurance that will save you money that naturally will put more money in your pocket?”

Andrew R.: Let’s use you as the example You said you shopped a few names you knew and then you handed it off to your assistant to go get one of those, likely one of the ones that was probably the cheapest. Are you sure you get exactly the same coverage on each one of those websites? If you’re like a normal person, I’m not sure . . . Maybe.

On our website, every minute comes back is an apples to apples comparison. And we have 60 plus insurers on our panel. So instead of you just getting one, two or three that you happen to shop, you can get a huge chunk of the market and likely find somebody that you might know, you might not know. It can save you a ton of money. And I’ll give you a scary statistic from our website. From the lowest price to the fifth price . . . I’m not talking about the most expensive way out in detail here. First to fifth, there is a $1,500 price difference on average. People . . .

Andrew W.: So I would save $1,500 if I go from the fifth lowest back to the first, $1,500 in saving. By the way, we gave . . . I think you’re using the mic that we sent you, right?

Andrew R.: Yeah.

Andrew W.: You sound good. Just watch when you’re banging on the table. And I hate to admit because . . .

Andrew R.: You got it. You got it.

Andrew W.: I like . . .

Andrew R.: I get passionate about it.

Andrew W.: All right. I see it. The site that I’m reading is called One Million by One Million blog. That’s the one that wrote an article with an interview with you. They called it the fat startup from Virginia, meaning, unlike a lean startup where you start with a few bucks and you build a website and an MVP and so on, you needed to raise $100 million. The thing that . . . The other thing that stood out for me about this article was, it was, I think, a year of you building before you did what you call the soft launch in 2013. What took place in that year?

Andrew R.: Well, sadly, there’s different timescales. There’s the internet timescale, which we all sort of live and breathe. And then there’s the insurance timescale. And those insurance companies say, “We like this idea. We’ll do the IT work to connect to you.” Sadly, that connectivity takes a long time. It can take months, quarters. It has taken more than a year for one insurance company to do the connections. And we have a bit of chicken and egg with our businesses. We can go out and tell people to compare, but if there’s nothing to see when they come to the website, it doesn’t work. So that first year was building the website and building the integrations to the initial insurance companies that were going to work with us.

Andrew W.: How much of your background came into play when you were trying to get insurance companies to join in before you had anything else?

Andrew R.: Well, that’s the other thing that I think will be important for your listeners is they think of this. Have credibility. There’s lots of people that have tried this kind of business. But insurance is complex. And when you’re going in and you’re trying to convince companies to adopt a completely new distribution system, you better be able to speak their language. And so part of what made me successful was being able to go in and talk to that C suite, the executives within those companies and talk insurance to them and understand what their concerns would be about this particular business model and have mitigating opportunities in the contract to make sure that they don’t get burned by it. By being able to do that, I was helped to bring them on board sooner.

Andrew W.: What was it that they wanted? What was it that they were afraid of back before you had any users?

Andrew R.: Back before we had users, they were worried about this being only a price game. Lots of these insurance companies say we spend tons of money advertising brand, those kinds of things. We want customers to pick us for more than just price. And when you build a price comparison website, it’s a meaningful concern for them. But what’s been great is we find out that consumers also care about the product, also care about the brand. Price is important. They’re not going to spend $1,000 more on something if they know about it, but we’re able to allay those fears.

Andrew W.: How? You’re basically saying, “We’re going to be the new brand. You’re not going to matter anymore. Your ads might be even drowned out by us.” How do you keep them from being worried about that?

Andrew R.: Well, they are. And it’s a valid fear. If they come to us instead of coming to them, it’s a major concern. And you will find that, however, there’s tons, there’s 300 auto insurance companies in the U.S. You probably shopped three. So there’s 297 of them that go, “How do I get on Andrew’s list?” Well, one of the ways is if compare.com can get on their list, I’ll suddenly introduce potentially dozens of insurance companies into the equation without them having to spend a dime. That’s another important part of this equation is the carriers can participate on our panel at zero cost to them. They only pay when somebody ultimately says, “I want to purchase,” and completes the purchase. So it’s a lower cost avenue, a certain cost avenue for them to acquire business.

Andrew W.: And they still need to build into your product. How much was involved for that? I have a friend who’s creating a banking product, a banking app, and I asked him, “Why am I suddenly seeing a lot of startups create bank-related apps, stock-related apps?” And he said, “The investment banks and the savings banks have all started to open up APIs, which means that we don’t have to code this stuff up.” So you could create a company that interacts with the bank fairly easily today. That doesn’t happen in the insurance world.

Andrew R.: It is starting to, but when you’re us back in 2012 and 2013, and you come to them and say, “Let us connect to your API,” the answer was often, “What’s an API?” And so you’re going to have to do direct integrations with folks in avenues. And it just took time. And it took money, and that was the other important part of the credibility. Imagine you’re John Q. Smith off the street and you walk into one of these big insurance companies and say, “I’m going to start a comparison website.” One of their first questions is, “So, is anybody going to know about it? Is anybody going to come to that website? If I spend the time and energy to integrate with you, what do I get in return?” [Three 00:36:51] million-dollar raise and one other component to it. Credibility.

Andrew W.: Right.

Andrew R.: You want to walk into those insurance companies and say, “You see that we have this money. This money will enable us to drive customers that will ultimately see your price, your product, your brand, and have an opportunity to select you as an insurance company.”

Andrew W.: So you said one of the ways that we can see, like . . . One of the metrics you check is traffic. I’m looking at your traffic right now. It’s at 400,000 monthly visits to your site. And then pages per visit is about five. So you’re doing well here. The first thing you did, though, and SEO is . . .

Andrew R.: We love those sites. They show what your traditional B2C traffic is, but, boy, there’s a lot of traffic that come in via B2B, B2C and other avenues that . . .

Andrew W.: What do you mean?

Andrew R.: So we are out advertising our brand, driving consumers to our website. But you just talked about a lot of the partnerships that banks are doing. We do a lot of those same kinds of partnerships with auto retailers, other financial services websites where they don’t want to go out and build an auto insurance business themselves, but they do want to ultimately be able to offer insurance as part of the equation. We’re a financial service. So Smart Financial. You can find our site there. We partner with Carvana. So, when you purchase a car on Carvana, you get into that post-sale process and you can find compare.com.

Andrew W.: Oh, so you build into their product. That’s the part that I don’t see here. I did see Smart Financial. Smart Financial is one of these sites that it’s like what I mentioned earlier, where I get to search for insurance and what they’re doing then is passing people on to you. I didn’t understand also that other car companies at the end of . . . I guess people are buying cars online now and then at the end of it, you ship and send the [traffic 00:38:42] over to you.

Andrew R.: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You still have to have . . .

Andrew W.: They still go to you?

Andrew R.: Whether you’re driving it off a lot or having it delivered, you are not going to have it arrive or be able to take it away until you prove you have auto insurance. Well, compare.com can help you with that.

Andrew W.: And you . . . What about . . . You know what? I buy everything online, but I still buy cars and . . . Actually, I don’t even like cars. I don’t buy them that much, but you have to. Once I had kids, I had to stop Ubering everywhere and buy a car. I did have to go into a lot. At the end I forget what we did for insurance. I think they gave me three days insurance because I didn’t trust them to do anything. And then I had to go and say, “Andrea, can you please go get this for me?” So what you do also is on the lot you enabled them set you up?

Andrew R.: It is not uncommon for us to have people out in the lot going, “Hold on. I got to get insurance before I can do this. Let me tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”

Andrew W.: Customer or is it the seller, the . . .

Andrew R.: The customer. The seller will . . . Carvana in its case as a partner of ours, they facilitate the introduction. So they say hey, “You got to have insurance. Do you have it? If you have it, great. If you don’t, here’s where you get it. Compare.com is one of our partners for that kind of transaction.”

Andrew W.: I’m trying to figure out, like, what is it that you do that gets this all to work? I see. So I’m looking at . . . I use Ahrefs. Since you’re saying that people are . . . that advertising and promotion is big for you, I went to Ahrefs to see what articles are linking over to Compare. And there’s one here about “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” And it’s Ramit Sethi’s personal blog. And on here, I guess, in one of these money saving tips for how to get car insurance, he is linking over to you and I don’t know if that’s a direct partnership, but my guess is you probably had someone reach out to him and say, “Hey, we’re a good tool. You should add us to this page,” because I think he wrote this article. I go to the WordPress thing on his. He wrote this article a while ago but I can’t see when he wrote it. That’s part of your marketing.

Andrew R.: Our marketing . . . I mean, again, we do paid marketing everywhere you can ever conceive of, but we’re really trying to get the message out to consumers that you are wasting billions of dollars by not shopping. It’s a hidden piggy bank for the American consumer. So many people buy their auto insurance 10, 15 some cases 20 years ago and have never looked back at it.

We had . . . I’ll give you a quick story. We have a young lady that started with us here. And she and her husband had two boys and they were both of driving age. Family of four. Four vehicles, four drivers. Now, I didn’t know even in this space it’s unfathomable for me to think of somebody paying $6,000 a year for insurance. She was paying $6,000. Well, if I work at compare.com, I at least have to shop my insurance on here. So she begrudgingly did it, taps it all in, and then she comes back over to us, “You’re not going to believe this. I found the exact same insurance for $2,000.” And I said, “Well, how long have you been with your insurer.” She says, “More than 10 years.” So she saved $4,000.

Now I suspect it went up when those teenage drivers came on there, but she likely overspent over that decade tens of thousands of dollars. You think about the trip you’re about to go on with your wife. Imagine if you had a piggy bank of auto insurance savings that paid for the whole thing. That’s what we’re trying to get people with compare.com to go access. Just go check. You might be one of the lucky people to go, “I checked. I’m already paying the cheapest.” Great. High five. You did well. But there’s a whole bunch more people that are going to come on compare.com and go, “What the heck? How could I have been paying this much for this long?”

Andrew W.: You know what else is interesting that at the very least what I could do is go into Compare and get a better price and then call up my insurance company and say, “This is the price I found somewhere else.” It turns out they negotiate with you. Even the people on the phone will negotiate with you.

Andrew R.: Now we have to be very careful because don’t tell me who did that because there is supposed to be one price for every insurance company for Andrew Warner.

Andrew W.: Oh, really?

Andrew R.: For company A the price is $1,000 and you shouldn’t be, “That’s not good enough.” You shouldn’t be able then to go, “Well, how about 950?” Their rates are filed with the Department of Insurance. And so the negotiation part of it is dangerous. But as a consumer, do whatever you can to get the right company at the right price. And so if negotiation ultimately gets you a better deal, go for it.

Andrew W.: Let me mention that my second sponsor is HostGator. One of the things that I love about Ramit Sethi’s site “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” which now has a link back to you. I think that article was written in 2016. So probably someone on your team reached out or maybe he intentionally said, “I got to find a better solution here. Let’s link people over to compare.com.”

One of the things that I like about him is the guy is just consistent. Yes, he’s really big on Instagram. Yes, he’s really big on promoting in other places like email, but he’s kept up his website over the years and all he does is he gives people tips on how to save money because he’s obsessed with this stuff. How to save money, how to make more money. Personal finance has been his obsession for 10 years. A friend of mine interviewed him, Noah Kagan, said, “Don’t you ever get bored with this?” And basically he said, “No, this is . . . I still love it.” And I totally get it.

I would say to anyone who’s listening to me, if there’s a little passion, a little interest that you’ve got and you think it could be expanded into something bigger, do what I did, do what Ramit did, do what so many other people did, which is go create a website for it. One of the things that I love is when I give my kids a new type of paper, like, the big sheets of paper that they just got suddenly, the ones that are taller than they are, literally, or the small ones that will work well with watercolor, they will go and just because it’s there, create something that they hadn’t done before and give me space, frankly, to sit and read my book on Saturday mornings.

Same thing happens to us adults. If we have this ability to create websites, if we have a brand new WordPress site, if we have a way to create, things are just going to come out of us and it might be like what happened to me was an absolute accident where I decided I was going to do interviews and then this became a life that now I’m passionate about that’s taking me all over the world. It could be like what happened to Ramit Sethi who created “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” again, on WordPress and now it’s become something that, yeah, for him also taken him all over the world but also allowed him to expand on this topic that he loves.

If there is a site, if there is a topic, if there’s something in you, if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy and you pick that middle option, yes, it’ll cost you. What? Is it like an extra buck a month? Yeah, about a buck a month extra. You’re going to get unlimited domains which means you can host all the different websites you want, one-click installs of WordPress and it’ll get you going. If you’ve never done this before, go do it right now. Just allow your creativity to come out. Allow yourself to blog about something and be totally fine with not ever publishing it or deleting it and starting fresh afterwards.

And if you do it within 45 days and you’re not happy, they will give you your money back. I guarantee you’ll love this. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. That URL will give you the lowest price that they have available anywhere. And frankly, their prices are already low. So, if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get an unbelievable price from a great company.

The first thing that you did, Andrew, was buy television ads, am I right, after you built your website? You did.

Andrew R.: We had to let consumers know we were there. Now, of course, it’s combined with a digital strategy just like any modern marketing campaigns. But you get it out there and see if you can ultimately drive consumers in. And we started in California. We did six different cities with six different ads all buying the exact same TV show so we can see which ads work, which ones didn’t.

Andrew W.: Which ones worked and what didn’t? What did you learn about it?

Andrew R.: This is a story I don’t like to tell because one of the last ads we made somebody said, “Oh, we should make one of those Lee Iacocca ads where we put the CEO in it.” And I’m like, “Listen, I’ve got a face for radio.” And they’re like, “No, no, that’d be great. Let’s try it.” So they put me in an ad and sadly it worked. There’s just the passion, the genuineness that I have for this business and for saving people money, it resonated, it worked. And so for a solid year and a half that was our best ad, and I sadly would get pictures from my friends when they were at a bar them taking a selfie of them with my ad running in the background. That is not what you want to have happen with your friends.

Andrew W.: Why not?

Andrew R.: With any extra ammunition.

Andrew W.: It’s amazing that fame often comes to people who don’t really need it who are comfortable without it. I’m sorry. My mind is actually wandering as we’re talking. I realized I accidentally closed out the tab where I was as you were talking getting a rate because I do like to save one. Hey, Siri, text Andrea, “Can you please go to compare.com and see what my insurance would cost if I switched from whatever car insurance you signed me up for to a different one? And all the information about my car insurance should either be in the Evernote doc that I gave you before or in the car insurance info that you have from the last time you signed me up.”

Andrew R.: Excellent. I’ll look forward to seeing how much money we can save you or the virtual high five when you go found the cheapest already.

Andrew W.: Yeah. You know what? I hardly use my car that much. I don’t really need that. I don’t . . . But I also don’t look at it. I realized as we’re talking, we can talk about other people and say, “Well, look at what they’re missing. Look at what they’re not doing.” And then I realize, “Let’s look at myself.” I actually am the type of person, Andrew, 100%, I sign up, I look and see that it’s fairly reasonable price. It’s not taking that much money out of my pocket. Let’s be honest. Car insurance is probably a day of schooling for my kids. I don’t know. Everything in San Francisco is expensive.

But once you start to think about, “Well, I wouldn’t just . . . I wouldn’t go and buy an Apple Watch without putting some thought into it.” I give some thought about that. We’re all trying to teach our kids here to pay attention to money and savings. I need more examples to show them how I’m doing it. Why am I not doing it? Anyway, as you were talking about earlier, I started going through the site, and then I realized I have all these tabs open, I closed them all up and I accidentally closed yours too.

Andrew R.: Well, the good news is going through the site only takes about 5, 10 minutes at most, so your assistant is not going to spend her afternoon shopping for auto insurance for you. It’ll be a quick process. You’ll know exactly what your situation is.

Andrew W.: Yeah. And I got all the way up to the page where I was supposed to put in my name and I paused because I didn’t want you to hear me typing, and then I said, “All right. I’ll come back to that after the interview.” And I forgot to pin it so that it doesn’t get closed. So I’m guessing once you started running ads on TV, the chicken and egg issue was resolved because now the insurance companies realize, “He’s got people. We’re not just going to invest and lose all that time.”

Andrew R.: And we were creative. So, from our standpoint, we’re with those ads trying to hit two people. You got to get consumers to come to the website, otherwise you don’t have a business. The other part is you need those insurance company execs to see it. And so we’ll never let know what executive we did this for. But we found out that a particular executive in a particular DMA went to a particular university who’s playing in a bowl game between Christmas and New Year’s. And we bought an ad on the network where that bowl was being played just to make sure because we knew they’d be watching that they saw our ad. And lo and behold, wouldn’t you know, we got a call that next Monday from one member of their team saying, “Our CEO saw your ad this past weekend.” He said, “We definitely had . . . If you guys are buying bowl game ads, you must be a big deal.”

Let’s be clear. That was the only bowl game ad we bought and that was the only market we bought it in. But it worked. It got execs to be able to engage with us. You have to be creative when you’re an entrepreneur. Use your money wisely.

Andrew W.: Which ad was it?

Andrew R.: It was . . .

Andrew W.: The one with you?

Andrew R.: I don’t remember. That was a long time ago.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew R.: It worked.

Andrew W.: And do you have a sense of how much it cost to reach him that way?

Andrew R.: It wasn’t too bad because it was in a specific DMA. Now, if we bought it nationwide, that would have been five, six digits, but I think that particular investment was not even 10 grand. And getting a big name on our website pays for itself quite quickly.

Andrew W.: Speaking of, I’m going into the Internet Archive to see what compare.com was over the years. It was in some way as a comparison site for a bit. I’m wondering how much it costs you to buy compare.com.

Andrew R.: Well, when we created this entity, what is now compare.com, we said, “What would be . . . What do we do? We compare. Well, why don’t we buy compare.com? That sounds perfect.” So we went and researched just as you did. And literally it was somebody squatting on the URL, comparing garden gnomes, comparing whatever the heck [inaudible 00:51:44].

Andrew W.: The shop wiki, all kinds of stuff like that.

Andrew R.: Just link bait going off to lots of different spots. And so we reached out to them and we were given a number that was incredibly large and we said, “No.” And we went away. And we started the company actually as comparenow.com. Same color, same iconography with the magnifying glass that you see there, and just used that brand for the first year or two. And lo and behold, when that individual found out, “Oh, they’re not coming back,” the price dropped dramatically. Let’s be clear. A brand with compare.com is still incredibly expensive, seven digits expensive. But it is worthwhile because it is such an obvious brand and it gives us extensibility as time goes by to do so many more things.

Andrew W.: I keep thinking that the dot-com doesn’t matter that much and I feel in some industries, it doesn’t, but when you’re reaching consumers, especially with TV ads, I imagine it’s really big.

Andrew R.: And it was more important six, seven years ago than it is today. But it’s a brand that has worked exceptionally well for us.

Andrew W.: What about this? I feel like people are comparing prices, but they’re also comparing experiences. The ability to text your insurance company I think in the future is going to be really important for people who’d rather not get on calls. The ability to use an app today is important for people. That’s not an easy thing to compare apples to apples. As that becomes more important, what do you do?

Andrew R.: You’ve got to help the consumer compare on all the attributes. What you’re effectively starting with compare.com is, “Give me a subset of insurance companies to consider.” So, from your standpoint, you’ve done this process. Your assistant is going to go back and do it. Here are the top three. This one is $1,000. This one is $1,100. This one is $1,200. And at that point in time, you go, “Okay. Well, I was on compare.com, all the coverages are the same. I don’t know brand number two. And knowing the brand is important to me. So, fine. So I’m going to look at one and three.” And then you can go to their websites and look at, “Okay. Which ones have free roadside assistance? Which one has an app? Which one has 24/7 this? Who has higher claims ratings?” You can ultimately make your decision there. And we’ll be incorporating more and more of those things into our site as time goes by. But compare.com can help you get to the decision set that you want to ultimately consider.

Andrew W.: I get it because especially since you do eventually want us to go from your site to the insurance close so that you get the credit for credit for it. What . . .

Andrew R.: Luckily, with our platform and because how it works, your rate was from the insurance company. So, even if you decide later on to go directly to the insurance company not linking off of ours, we’ll still get credit.

Andrew W.: Oh, you do? Because?

Andrew R.: Because the quote came originally from us. So you’re not going to call them back up and say, “Let me re-enter all that information in or go back to their website and re-enter.” It’s already there.

Andrew W.: Oh, that’s why you asked me for my name and email address, that part where I didn’t want to click around as we were talking.

Andrew R.: Exactly. And we’re going to make your assistant’s life so much easier. So 6 months from now, 12 months from now you’re like, “You know what? I do need to be cognizant. I need to shop my auto insurance again.” All your information is already in our platform. It’s stored securely and stored safely. You come back in, one button and we ping back out to the insurance companies and get new prices for you. Keep it simple, keep it easy.

Andrew W.: I love that. Let’s talk about one of the difficult times. You did have to cut back I guess it was in one of the contact centers. What was a contact center?

Andrew R.: You’re an entrepreneur. You got to try and test and do lots of different things. And we hired a 10-person contact center here. And we did it in partnership with a variety of our insurance companies to test and learn, to understand how consumer behavior was and to understand the processes that different insurance companies . . .

Andrew W.: And a contact center is different from a call center in that it lets me reach your people via text . . .

Andrew R.: It is. It’s a call center but it also when you talk about wanting to text and wanting to chat, it does all those pieces there. So it’s a contact center no matter how you want to ultimately reach out to a human being.

Andrew W.: Okay.

Andrew R.: And we staffed it up. Phenomenal people. They did a fantastic job and gave us an enormous amount of learnings, gave our insurance company partners enormous amount of learnings. But once we have achieved sort of that 80-20, we’ve learned 80% of what we want to do it’s not our model to be the one fielding those phone calls. We’re also not going to do quotes over the phone. That’s not part of our business model. And so ultimately, we were able to say, “Thank you,” to those folks, got them all jobs at another insurance company doing the same work there. And so it was a great benefit for us to have all those learnings and then we took care of those folks when their time at compare.com was done.

Andrew W.: So what’s worked for you best as far as getting customers? We’ve talked about . . . I saw SEO using Ahrefs. I saw using SimilarWeb, traffic coming in from sites like smartfinancial.com com and EverQuote. I see you doing a lot of different things. What’s work best?

Andrew R.: Our best and favorite source of traffic, word of mouth, when it comes to doing it, because you have heard . . . So you’re going to go get that quote later this afternoon and your assistant is going to go, “Holy cow, 500 bucks.” Now you can buy something nice for your wife when you’re in South Africa for your 10-year anniversary. And then you are sitting there in the airport getting ready to leave for that vacation and you start chatting with somebody who’s like, “Oh, yeah, I saved a bunch of money, so we were able to go on this trip.” “Well, how did you do that?” “I went on compare.com.” You telling friends and family, that is absolutely the best way because people don’t want to shop for auto insurance, but when you say, “This worked and I saved a bunch of money,” you encourage people into the marketplace that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Andrew W.: It is interesting that you’ve tried so many things for marketing. I see Facebook is big for you guys, probably the biggest social network. But you’re also on SoundCloud. You’re also big with Skimlinks, which Skimlinks I imagine that’s a Pinterest thing, but I couldn’t tell. I don’t have enough insight into that. But Skimlinks, I think they auto-switch links to make money for the publisher as long as the content is already on the site, they might as well link over to you and then get a commission every time somebody buys. It’s just when you have $100 million you can try all these different ad options.

Andrew R.: You name it.

Andrew W.: It’s fantastic.

Andrew R.: People ask us questions, “What advertising do you do?” And I start with the one that everybody will know is national TV advertising, and then our answer is, “And literally every digital means that you could think of.”

Andrew W.: What’s the most interesting one that you’ve done that is the only because you’re you, only because you have this reach you can experiment with?

Andrew R.: Well, the one that is new that we’ve been doing that folks are following us too at this point, but the over-the-top TV. So the cord-cutter is out there, the reach, but there are a variety of ad-supported services. And the ability to target in those platforms is incredible. It is not yet to the tune of your ability to geo-target and do everything else that you have on [first 00:59:24], but TV is an expensive means and if you can target down to specific subsets of people, it’s a very powerful medium.

Andrew W.: Right. My dad was just aking me about that. He said, “How do these guys make money? I could just buy a box from them or a little now dongle that connects my TV. Where’s the money coming from them? How does it work?” And I told him about this stuff. I get it.

But you know what? I feel like working at Compare or a company that has this much reach, if anyone wants to start, like, learning online ads or learning how to do ads at all, this is the place to do it. And basically, Andrew, anything I touch, you’ve done and you’ve done in an interesting way.

So, for example, I go again to Ahrefs, I thought they were a partner of ours. It turns out I’m just a customer of theirs. I don’t know the relationship sometimes that I have with these people with the tools that I use. You guys have compare com/auto-insurance. They estimate, Ahrefs estimates that page alone is worth $448,000 because of the keywords that are associated with it. Auto insurance quotes comparison, it’s doing good volume. I go to the page. It is so well put together that I know exactly where to go when I’m ready to buy or to check for insurance rates, but also it’s got all the kind of information that I might need.

So compare car insurance rates for teens. If I scroll down a little bit further, compare car insurance rates for middle and senior drivers. All that stuff. And I see the price is all here on the screen. And there’s someone who SEO that. That is not just like a random thing that was put together.

Andrew R.: And in a way let’s be clear. Because we’ve tried so many things, there’s a graveyard of things that didn’t work.

Andrew W.: All right. Let’s close it out with that. One thing that didn’t work. I don’t want to just end up with hero interview.

Andrew R.: So the one that drives me nuts the most is we did a radio, traditional radio test in Houston. This was back in beginning of this year. And I offered $100 to any customer that would come on to compare.com that we couldn’t save money. And I literally told the guys, “You got to be ready to pull this ad after the first running,” because if all of a sudden the website breaks from everybody in Houston coming and saying, “Oh, I’ll beat that. Hold on.” It didn’t work. Offer people $100 if I can’t save them money. So you’re either going to save money or get $100 from me. It didn’t work.

Andrew W.: I wonder why.

Andrew R.: It is one of the things that we’ve learned doing so many different ad testers. Things that you won’t expect work, an ad with me in it worked, and sometimes things that you go, “This is going to be a no-brainer,” fails. But you got to be willing as an entrepreneur to go out there and try things and accept the fact that there’s going to be a whole bunch of failures for you to find those victories as well.

Andrew W.: I just got a text message from Andrea. I’ll read it afterwards. I’m looking . . . I want to see how much I save. All right. The website for anyone who wants to go check it out is compare.com. I am going to beat myself up, I’ll be honest with you, for being effusive and so complimentary in this interview. But the truth is, I know my mission. I still get excited about entrepreneurship. I do think that it changes the world. It doesn’t change the world in that you come up with a company and overnight everything is different, the way that the iPhone was. But even the iPhone changed everything after Steve Jobs spent, what was it, two decades working his way to that?

So I’m not looking for things to change everything immediately for me to get excited. I’m willing to look around and say, “There are entrepreneurs who are changing people’s lives a little at a time, and if you could do that, change their world, I think it’s dramatic, I think it’s exciting.” And I’ll let all the other people who are in tech, in entrepreneurship condemn the WeWork mistakes and Uber this and that. I want to focus on the companies that we don’t know enough about and how they’re impacting the world. And if I get excited about it, great. And if I’m not that excited about it, then I should really think about, “Well, what am I doing with my life?”

All right. I’m really excited about what you’ve done, Andrew. It’s compare.com for anyone who wants to go check it out. I’ve been told several times by my team to spell Outerknown because they know that I will not be able to express it clearly with my voice. I read it. What was it? It was a book on Paul Harvey. You know that guy?

Andrew R.: Absolutely, fantastic radio personality.

Andrew W.: Amazing broadcaster. He did like five minutes a day. He would tell one story, one news. I didn’t know much about his life. He would train his voice, run up and down the halls, at a time when a guy in a suit running up and down the halls was not acceptable, it’s a little bit weird, to get himself ready just to get his voice to sound crisp and to have that trademark sound. I don’t that. I spend more time, like, going into your Ahrefs’ stuff and I think that’s my superpower, but I understand why he may not need to spell it. I do acknowledge that I do need to spell it for anyone who’s listening. It is Outerknown as outerknown.com. Go flip through the stuff that I bought. I think you’re going to love it. And if you decide to buy, use the keyword MIXERGY in that coupon code. And then of course you know, hostgator.com/mixergy is the place to go have your website hosted. Andrew, it’s an honor. Thanks so much for being on here.

Andrew R.: It was a pleasure. Thanks.

Andrew W.: Thank you. Bye. Bye, everyone.

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