Darren Nix is the Founder of Steadily, an InsurTech startup that built a full-stack insurance service for landlords. Steadily is fast, affordable, and amazing at customer service. In the fall of 2020, the company raised a $3.8M seed investment. Before founding Steadily he successfully sold his startup ‘Interviewed’ to Indeed. He is also an alumnus of Y Combinator and went to MIT.
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Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Darren Nix: I always wanted to be a business leader, which I would argue, I am right now. However, I never thought I would be where I am right now. I was planning to work in business then I founded a company (Silver Financial), tried to get an MBA, dropped out, returned to work then founded Steadily Landlord Insurance. I got to where I wanted to be, but there were many areas I ended up in before now.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Darren Nix: My current focus is to have Steadily Landlord Insurance grow in new ways including developing IoT for preventative maintenance.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Darren Nix: Punctuality straightforward is a strength. But I understand why people believe punctuality can be seen as a weakness. Punctuality is all about reaching certain deadlines, which can be seen as inflexibility. I disagree with that just as long as people are flexible in the steps of where they should go to reach their goals.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Darren Nix: At Steadily, we always try to reach certain deadlines. It is critical for our clients to know we are working to serve them in insurance and eventually in preventative maintenance.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Darren Nix: I agree with this statement. In my experience, clients need things at certain times and if Steadily (or whoever is hired by them) does not reach these deadlines they will find someone else. And landing these clients can make or break a business because businesses that serve these clients well can make 5.7 times the revenue as companies that do not. This is not luck, luck implies nothing is done to earn something while in reality, everything is done to earn this.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Darren Nix: I decide it is time to put the pedal on the metal when the deadline is approaching. While flexibility is critical in the steps before the deadline, those matters where flexibility can be established should be brought up well before the deadline. When the deadline has arrived the times for flexibility have passed. The times for breaks come after a deadline has passed and when a new one is brought up. Then it is time to discuss how to approach this deadline and how to be flexible.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Darren Nix: I actually try to take a break for 2 days after I fulfill a deadline. This way I can not only recuperate, but I can think of how to go about the next goals.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Darren Nix: The founding of Steadily Landlord Insurance was at good timing. Not only have there been few forms of Landlord Insurance, but they tend to be inflexible. Steadily can provide insurance services and the flexibility people need. In addition, landlords have explained what they need, and establishing options to cover for riots and pandemic-related events helped bring peace to their minds. In addition, some explained their desire to save on repairs which helped me start the idea of using IoT for preventative maintenance.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Darren Nix: As established, timing is everything. There are many examples of this. For instance, some companies tried to establish a business model similar to AirBnB, however, they tried this during the 2008 recession when people were scared of leaving their properties to other people. Now AirBnB is capitalized at over $100 Billion. Most of the time a great idea also needs perfect timing.
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Darren Nix: I would recommend establishing a business model that is very flexible. Take a look at restaurants. Many require a structure to serve customers a certain way and some of them cannot easily be restructured if there is a need to pivot. In these situations, they are all but guaranteed to fail if they cannot pivot well. Some even tried to pivot only to find that there is a labor shortage that prevents them from pivoting. If a company cannot pivot in less than a month, they cannot survive if the world suddenly changes against them.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Darren Nix: It is hard to see the line between fiction and reality. A virus just shut down the world. However, I would want to start a business in a world where traditions and technology meld perfectly. In the rental business, many business owners try to hold onto how they handled their business and they feel like technology is just here to replace them. I wish people can see technology as a tool and never as a replacement for humans and I love the fictional universes where ancient magic and new technology eventually meld to create something better because it shows how we can live in tradition while aspiring change.
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Darren Nix: I like to jog. It helps me clear my mind and reminds me to always improve.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Darren Nix for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Darren Nix or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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