Launching a startup can be a tough, oftentimes brutal endeavor. Most meet untimely demises: 50% of startups fail within five years, and 70% fail within 10 years.

For the ones that succeed, many want to know why. What’s in that company’s secret sauce that’s worked so well to keep a business not just surviving but also growing, thriving even?

As Indy-based myCOI gears up to celebrate its tenth anniversary, founder and CEO Kristen Nunery reflected with us on the past decade of her business. Emerging from a deeply uncertain economy at the time, myCOI latched onto a key business need, nurtured opportunities for growth and has emerged as a scale-up force to be reckoned with that’s getting attention not only in the Midwest but also on the coasts and beyond.

Tectonic shifts in insurance industry creates myCOI’s opportunity

Based in downtown Indianapolis, myCOI was born in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse. Companies, especially within the insurance industry, were struggling to understand what had transpired and how they could better manage their risk profiles.

“During that window of time, this function just didn’t get the time and attention for effectiveness that a lot of companies needed to give it, and there were companies that got burned,” said Kristen. “Coming out of that, companies started asking, ‘How do we figure this out? How do we change what we do?’ I think that actually jump started us being able to go after some of those initial customers and get this off the ground.” 

myCOI was able to answer the challenges posed by companies like Indiana-based development and construction firm Thompson Thrift. The company was growing at a fast pace and had difficulty staying abreast of the 1,000 subcontractors and vendors it managed across 15 projects at any given time.

While risk management staff tried keeping up with the ocean of paperwork concerning insurance coverage and tracking, it was too weighty a task, and the company ended up settling lawsuits to the tune of $1.75 million due to noncompliance. Once the company brought in myCOI’s software solution, Thompson Thrift’s compliance rose dramatically, averting lawsuits and enabling more confident workforce growth.  

The insurance industry and companies reliant on insurance coverage have continued to serve as the mainstay for myCOI’s certificate of insurance automation offerings. Within this space, myCOI intersects with commercial and residential real estate, construction, franchising–any company operating in an industry where tracking these certificates matters. In doing so, companies can better understand their risk profiles arising from potential pitfalls like underinsured claims, costly litigation and failed audits.

While the company has developed excellent standalone products, integrating those products into other platforms has been a growth point for myCOI. Just recently, the company officially partnered with Boston-based Building Engines, an industry-leading commercial property management tool, to integrate myCOI’s platform into Building Engine’s new product, Prism. This is myCOI’s first true reseller agreement.

“We’re excited about this partnership because it’s one step further in our overall vision of being the engine that pairs all the different applications through our different industries,” said Kristen.

myCOI establishes identity as fast-growing scale-up

Kristen feels that myCOI has transformed from a purely scrappy startup grinding it out to survive into a scale-up that can invest more into building leaders and teams. That’s evident in the company’s new partnerships with ADVISA and Emplify. 

Company execs will participate in an ADVISA-led training program for 10 months, where they’ll build leadership skills to bring back to their teams. Running alongside this initiative, myCOI will have Emplify’s employee engagement platform to suggest ways to change company culture for the better.

“If we know that all leaders are rowing the boat the same way, and we’re helping develop our leaders and helping them become the best they can be, they’ll turn around and help every team member they have,” said Kristen. “This is the start of a journey we’re about to go through, and I’m excited about it.”

Speaking of teams, the company’s staff has grown significantly since October 2017 and is currently hiring for roles in every department in its downtown office overlooking the Indiana World War Memorial. While a background in insurance isn’t required, Kristen is seeking go-getters and top performers who would support their teams’ growth and fit into the culture myCOI has crafted.

That all comes back to myCOI’s secret sauce. For Kristen, the drive to innovate–to push the boundaries in an industry known for building them–is what motivates her and the myCOI team to consistently deliver newer and better products. Of the many abilities and characteristics needed to accomplish this, grit has become a standout for the company and for Kristen. 

“For me personally, that’s what really helped me push through some of our chapters to reach where we are today. I think as an organization, grit was ingrained in who we are as an organization from the start. That helped us to be very nimble, scrappy and creative problem solvers to figure out how to do everything we now know how to do well today,” she said. 

While grit answers part of the equation, it also takes vision and a commitment to that vision to keep a company growing. Talented individuals, led by a cohesive vision and constant drive to innovate, can achieve great things. “When we commit to our vision, and we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction, we are the best that we can be in staying atop the industry and better serving our customers,” said Kristen. “Nothing gets in our way.”