Krystian Zajac, CEO of ‘smart’ home insurer, Hiro – Forbes Advisor UK
Krystian Zajac started his first business in his native Poland in the late 1990s, selling cell phone accessories. He opened two retail outlets, but after four years the company went bankrupt when it couldn’t repay its business loans. He moved to UK on 24e birthday and took various jobs so he could send money to Poland to pay off his debts (which he did after five years). In 2004, he started an IT consulting firm which he pivoted in 2009 to focus on smart home installations. In 2016, he co-founded the home insurance company Neos before selling the business to Aviva. He co-founded Hiro Last year. The company offers discounted home insurance to customers who install smart devices in their property. He lives with his partner in London.
What set you on the path to success?
I come from fairly humble beginnings. I’m part of a family of six and we lived in a one bedroom house until I was 11 – but I tasted success from a young age when I started earning money. making money as a teenager by taking odd jobs and playing in a band.
Later in my trip, I founded my own smart home business providing smart home tech facilities to multi billionaires for their properties. I was also able to get to know some of them on a more personal level. It gave me a taste of the billionaire’s lifestyle – and seeing his lifestyle and getting to know him personally has helped me achieve what you can achieve if you have the vision and work ethic. .
Did you have a hero when you were younger?
Yes, actually, I had two.
The first was my great-grandmother. She lived until the age of 103 and was a very wise woman with a lot of real life lessons. To my question: “How would you sum up your life?” She replied: “Life is like closing this door that you have just crossed. It’s done in a second. But have you stopped and thought about it? ‘.
The second was not a real life hero, but a fictional character who I think influenced my thinking to some extent when I was between 10 and 12 years old. The character – Pan Samochodzik – is a protagonist in a series of Polish adventure books from over 30 years ago, written by Zbigniew Nienacki. He was an inventor / engineer who inherited a car that had a very ugly and unpretentious body, but its engine was modernized from a Ferrari. He was a self-proclaimed superhero, using the car to do good things for people and society in general.
Do you have one now?
I don’t have a hero as such. But I admire some people in business and life.
Are you bored easily?
I am definitely bored when I have nothing to do (which is rare). I can not do not job.
Who do you admire in business and in life in general?
There are a lot of them but two definitely stand out for me. The former may be frowned upon by some, but it’s Elon Musk. I have been following him for many years, long before they started to write books about him. I have always admired his vision and his work ethic.
The second is a friend of mine who runs a very successful construction business. He’s not looking for the money – it comes from his attention to quality and detail, and he’s learned to appreciate and enjoy life (which I’m still learning to do).
How would you describe your leadership style?
I was too demanding. I was frustrated when things weren’t done and found it difficult to delegate properly.
Now I try to empower everyone around me. I delegate a lot and trust my staff to get the job done. I am still very demanding on the quality of the work, but I am much better than before. I demand transparency, I expect and I encourage constructive criticism, risk taking and experimentation.
What are your ambitions?
Not to regret, on my deathbed, for not having tried to leave a positive mark on the world.
Do you believe in luck?
No, you are making your own luck.
What qualities do you look for in your colleagues?
Ambition, good interpersonal relationships, desire to grow (personally and professionally), honesty and integrity.
Micro-management or the big picture?
Overview PLUS practical quality assurance (different from micro-management) where it matters most, such as product design, user experience and user interface, and customer experience.
Do you think the company is valued by society?
This is a delicate question. I don’t necessarily think society in general views business as a positive all the time. But everyone who runs (or is involved in) a business understands that without the commerce, competition and exchange of value that comes with it, we would not be evolving as a civilization.
How do you think business will develop from 2021?
The “ new normal ” will certainly introduce more flexibility with more remote and less office-based roles (although I think a lot of people will want the opposite – especially those who live alone) and also work schedules. more flexible.
Mental health support is increasingly becoming a core requirement of employees, and companies need to make sure they have protocols, guidance and support in place for those who need them.
Other employee benefits and perks will evolve to be more relevant to remote working.
How you like business going to change from 2020?
We want to be at the forefront of innovation in business – including the solutions we develop and the way we work. A clear example of this is our concept of pop-up HQ. Instead of paying for expensive offices in London, we want to start something that we haven’t heard from anyone else.
Basically, we’ll be renting out a few villas with coworking spaces twice a year, for four to six weeks at a time, somewhere in the world. A different place each time, preferably a warm place in summer, and a place with a lot of snow in winter. We will invite all staff to relocate there for this period. Employees will also be able to bring their families if they wish.
We will work together during this time. You can think of it as a longer version of a getaway organized by some companies. In our case, it is truly a “moving office”. It will not be mandatory (not everyone can leave their home for various reasons) and we will not force everyone to stay for the entire duration, but we will invite everyone (and obviously pay for their travel and their hosting), no matter where they normally live, or what role they have in the business.
We will also want to start supporting a few good causes. I believe that every business can be profitable while simultaneously helping society and the environment. In our case, we will focus on:
- Water shortage. So many people think about pollution and green energy, but very few realize that two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer from water shortages by 2025. Water leaks are the biggest problem for the home insurance industry and are also an environmental disaster.
- Mental Health. Many of us suffer in silence. It’s time to start supporting each other. In addition to being a big problem, mental health issues are also quite often a side effect of incidents that affect our clients. More than 30% of those who are robbed have trouble sleeping and many feel unsafe at home.
- Roaming. I believe everyone deserves a roof over their heads. As a home insurer, this is definitely something we want to actively support.
Here is a magic wand – what are you going to do?
I love illusion, but I don’t believe in magic. But, if I had to imagine myself having the power to change anything in the world, I would like to address the three issues mentioned above and make sure that every person in the world has access to clean drinking water, that not one. only person in the world. suffers from mental health issues and I would end homelessness.
What is your favorite time of day?
End of the evening, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Nowhere for now. There is a lot of work where I am right now. One industry at a time!