5 questions for Jennifer Fitzgerald
Jennifer is the CEO and co-founder of online insurance marketplace Policygenius, which has headquarters in New York City and Durham.
She started her postgraduate career in the Peace Corps in Honduras and later worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co., advising insurance companies. She left to start Policygenius with her co-founder, Francois de Lame, in 2014 to help the old-school insurance industry serve a more modern, digital audience. Jennifer has been widely recognized for her work at Policygenius, including winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and being named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.
Tell us about your business.
Policygenius is the nation’s leading insurance marketplace. We’ve helped more than 30 million people compare and shop for all their insurance needs the way they do everything else — online. Our licenced experts look at a full marketplace to help people compare different carriers, coverage amounts and policy types to help people get insurance right
What has Policygenius been up to since announcing plans for a second headquarters in North Carolina last fall?
Yes, we were very excited to announce our second headquarters in Durham last September and are on track to move into our new, downtown office at 555 Magnum later this year.
That kicked off an extremely exciting time for us. We started 2020 by announcing our $100 million Series D funding round. And we just launched an exclusive new life insurance product that doesn’t require a medical exam in collaboration with Charlotte-based Fortune 500 company, Brighthouse Financial. While we began product development before the pandemic, the launch is particularly timely, given there has been an uptick in interest around getting life insurance, but hesitancy to undergo a medical exam due to social-distancing guidelines.
We are optimistic about what the rest of 2020 has in store for us!
How is your business dealing with the current environment under COVID-19?
At first, the biggest adjustment was moving everyone to remote work — as it was for most companies. I was impressed by how quickly and smoothly we were able to make that shift. At the same time, we were working to figure out how we were going to hire and onboard new talent without the in-person interaction we’re accustomed to, especially because we’re still hiring at a rapid rate with continued plans to double the size of our staff this year. We’ve adjusted our processes to cater to a virtual experience, breaking up interviews to help avoid video fatigue — as people find video chats more draining than in-person interviews — and making sure to acknowledge the challenges people are facing right now. We’ve learned as we’ve gone along but are continuing to go through the process of hiring and onboarding in this new world.
What has inspired you recently?
My employees inspire me every day. I work with an incredible group of people, and we’re constantly bringing on new talent with fresh ideas. As I mentioned, it’s been an adjustment to all work remotely, but I’m impressed by how we’re all staying connected — from virtual coffee dates and weekly office hours with senior leadership to company-wide Zoom happy hours.
Eastern or western barbecue?
Having grown up all over Texas and the Southeast, I am a fan of all styles of barbecue. But if I had to pick, I prefer the vinegar-based style of eastern barbecue.