April 20, 2023

Our Story: Building the Product

The First Minimum Viable Product 

Once the founders landed on a vision for their new company, John Miller built the first minimum viable product. With the first prototype, a user could flip through different personas and ask a variety of insurance questions. It was more chat bot-focused than the product is today, but with the same aspirations to ease communications in insurance.

“We never thought replacing adjusters was the answer,” said John Miller. “We believed the chatbots could help adjusters by doing some of the manual tasks, like updating a bill. Once it was all mocked up, we started getting excited.”

Mike Greene had an industry conference coming up, and now he had something on his phone to show people and get their initial reactions. He received a lot of interest and excitement but also feedback that “AI is awesome, but human connection is going to be critical here.”

“That confirmed what we were already thinking,” said Mike Greene. “A chatbot is fine for simple claims like, you have a crack in your windshield. But insurance also deals with big, important and complex moments in your life when you want the human connection—we always wanted to include both human and AI together.”

Officially Hi Marley

While the founders appreciated their time at Aon, they knew they had to move on in order to build their own path. They were passionate about changing the insurance industry.

John Miller was the first to leave Aon in March of 2017. He spent the next two months organizing things and working on the prototype. “It was a risk,” said John Miller. “We were going to try something that’s never been done in insurance, not take any salaries and hope that it works.”

Then, just a couple of months prior to the official launch of Hi Marley, Mike Greene was in an awful car accident. He came away much more purpose-led and with a greater vision on the potential for the insurance industry.

Leaving Aon required a lot of courage. As the trio continued to show their idea to industry executives, they received tremendous feedback that this product could change the industry, giving them the additional confidence they needed. On April 20, 2017, Hi Marley officially launched as a company.

“We fundraised from a bunch of friends and family in the beginning—and that’s when I was like, ‘oh no, what did I just do?'” said Mike Greene. “Now I had my whole personal network tied up in this. It was inspiring and also created a little bit of pressure.”

Mike Greene continued, “I remember being in a room, and someone asked, ‘what if this doesn’t work?’ and I said, ‘that’s not an option.’ John, Mitesh and I are all wired that way—it’s probably a strength and a weakness—we just weren’t going to let failure happen.”

By June, Mike Greene and Mitesh Suchak left Aon to join John Miller at their new startup. The three founders fell into their roles naturally: John Miller—the builder—a curious, tech-savvy, incredibly talented, product-focused engineer would be CTO, Mike Greene—the leader—with his ability to talk to people, create connections and build strong relationships was the clear CEO, and Mitesh Suchak—the doer— detail-oriented, logical, reasonable and reliable, delivery is his strength, and he ensured things got done; the perfect fit for a COO.

With a great idea and a few new hires, by November, they were ready to launch and landed their first customer, West Bend.

Read more about Our Story.

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