The Upstart: Karn Saroya, co-founder of Cover, who’s trying to make insurance painless

The Upstart: Karn Saroya, co-founder of Cover, who’s trying to make insurance painless

All you have to do is take a photo of the stuff you want insured—including cars, homes and rental units

Company HQ: Spadina and Richmond
Founded: 2016
Employees: 120
Users: 500,000

How it works: “Customers answer some basic questions, take photos of the stuff they want to insure—including cars, homes and rental units—then we compare more than 30 carriers to find them the best policy. Our advisors are available to help anytime via text.”

Eureka moment: “My co-founders and I would head up to Muskoka on weekends and spend our time building apps. We tried to think of a business that’s underserved on the consumer side. It was a simple idea: what if we could make insurance as easy as taking a picture? We built the first iteration of Cover in 48 hours.”

How much you spent initially: “During those weekends in Muskoka, the only costs were our time, some pizza, beer and the gas to get up north. I think we might’ve spent $300 on Facebook ads to help drive traffic.”

Your turning point: “In 2016, we raised $3.2 million during an accelerator program.”

Your big-time backers: “Social Capital and Tribe Capital contributed roughly $20 million combined. We also took money from Sound Ventures, which is Ashton Kutcher’s fund.”

The best advice you’ve received: “If you have product-market fit, the gloves should come off. You should grow aggressively from there.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “In the late stages, even if the product satisfies market demand, stay lean. Don’t spend money.”

Tech jargon you use too much: “ ‘Cadence.’ Venture capitalists love using that word.”

Tech trend you tried: “Living off Soylent. That lasted maybe two months, because I wasn’t getting the right nutrition.”

Your tech role model: “Aaron Levie, because he’s a witty, funny Twitter tech personality.”

Your go-to office attire: “I wear mostly button-down shirts, jeans and fancy sneakers.”

Coolest thing in your office: “My dog Pax. He’s a Jack Russell beagle mix.”

App you can’t live without: “I use the Notes app religiously.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “I’d be an academic or a physicist. I studied chem and business at Queen’s.”