Sam Fromson: Having a Company Based in London Brings an Incredible Confluence of Finance, Legal, Regulatory, Funding, VC and Entrepreneurship

September 18, 2022
Sam Fromson
Sam Fromson

Sam Fromson of YuLife.

Tell us about yourself?

Hi, I’m Sam Fromson, co-founder and COO at Yulife, the life insurance company that inspires life. I am a qualified rabbi, father of three and former hedge fund equity analyst.

Before beginning to build YuLife, I was an investor at a family office and subsequently built the business development and operations functions at Invoice Cycle, an UK SME lender.

I hold a degree in Natural Science from the University of Cambridge, am an amateur triathlete, and occasionally run HIIT sessions for the team in Regents Park.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

My entrepreneurial story is quite a unique one as I am both a practicing rabbi and the co-founder of a tech startup. These two careers have taught me numerous key skills and lessons which have helped me thrive in both worlds. For starters, being an entrepreneur is ultimately about building a community.

Like the synagogue where I work, which has hundreds of families, who come from all sorts of backgrounds. I must relate to everyone as equals and inspire them to take responsibility for their community. Similarly, entrepreneurs are part of a wider ecosystem, which I liken to a community.

Investors, employees, business partners, clients, and colleagues all have a critical role to play in making the industry ecosystem flourish. No entrepreneur has ever prospered by working alone. I’ve also learned that entrepreneurs need to be storytellers.

Your brilliant and innovative startup idea is worthless if you can’t convince investors to fund your company and customers to buy your product. To make that happen, you create a narrative:

What pressing world problem do we address, and why are we the solution? Finally, understanding the value of empathy has always been essential to my leadership style.

It’s a core value that I acquired during my years as a rabbi but which undoubtedly helps me run my company. In a business context, empathy is hugely compelling, largely thanks to the simple fact that companies that demonstrate care and understanding are more likely to thrive.

At YuLife, we provide tools for employers to help incentivize their employees to live healthier lifestyles – and our offering is most appreciated at times of need, from pandemic to financial uncertainty.

Our rationale is that once people are empowered to safeguard their physical and mental well-being, they’ll also become happier and more productive in the workplace.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would say don’t be afraid to hold people to account. In business, if you want to thrive, then you need to make sure you’re meeting expectations.

As a founder of a company it’s your role to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and are fulfilling them.

There are various ways to measure progress and ensure people are reaching their goals – accountability is extremely important for success and ensures you are building a productive workforce.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

It is incredibly difficult to find balance – I can’t pretend to have all the answers here. I have four kids, am rabbi of a synagogue, officiate at weddings and funerals, teach couples getting married, and educate.

You need to know what to let go of – it is important to have very clear boundaries and set aside time that is sacred to you, for me that is Saturday where I observe the Sabbath and don’t do any work or even touch my phone, laptop or ipad.

I also try to be present in the moment, and not be constantly distracted with things going on around me.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

YuLife has five co-founders. Sammy Rubin, CEO, has rich experience in the insurance industry having built Policy Portfolio plc, the first market maker in traded endowments and led the flotation of the company on the full London Stock Exchange, he then went on to become the founding CEO of PruProtect (now VitalityLife), which was the first life insurance company in the UK to reward healthy living. Sammy is a household name in the world of insurance.

The other cofounders include myself (Sam Fromson), Josh Hart, Jonathan Roomer and Jaco Oosthuizen. Each of us has vast experience as entrepreneurs ranging in industries from EdTech, VCs and investment, Insurtech and Wellbeing.

We all saw how backwards the life insurance industry was – there had been no real changes for decades. We wanted to put life back in life insurance and offer tangible rewards for healthy behaviour that would leave a lasting difference to people’s lifestyles.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

YuLife is an insurtech company that has innovated the traditional group insurance model: offering financial protection through insurance, alongside mental, physical and emotional wellbeing benefits that support employee health in the present.

We are the first life insurer to put life first and transform the adversarial ‘win-lose’ model of financial services – by which either the insurer ‘wins’ and the policyholder ‘loses’, or vice versa – into a win-win model which benefits both insurers, who gain from reduced risk, and policyholders, who gain tangible incentives to improve their mental, physical and financial wellbeing.

Unlike traditional insurance models that pay out in death, YuLife offers health and wellbeing benefits and rewards that are valued and used by employees day to day – resulting in a higher-than-average daily engagement versus traditional employee benefits.

YuLife’s mission is to help people live their best lives: mentally, financially and physically. Harnessing the power of gamification and behavioural science, it rewards healthy living and puts everyday wellness within reach of everyone.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

Our advice would be to hire a professional sales leader with relevant industry experience – in this case, someone with experience in the Insurtech industry.

The second piece of advice would be to network. There is no substitute for hustling deals, you have to go out there and put yourself in uncomfortable positions or situations and keep going at it until you see the results you want and need.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

Today, we are in an era of the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ where businesses are under growing pressure to transform their benefits packages and enhance their employees’ sense of physical, mental and financial wellbeing as a means of attracting and retaining talent.

However, employee wellbeing initiatives are typically characterized by low engagement, and our team had to overcome this historic challenge – made even more challenging by the crowded wellness app market.

Our team of experienced app developers and data science experts knew that in order to boost retention rates for a wellbeing app, as well as help employers encourage their employees to buy in to the offering, we needed to combine tangible rewards with a gamified product that keeps users engaged for the long term.

A staggering 80% of employees do not engage with health and wellbeing programmes and while many want to improve their wellbeing, knowing how to do so and where to begin can be daunting.

YuLife’s all-in-one platform is changing the landscape of employee wellbeing with an app designed to drive participation and engagement exceeding 80%.

YuLife’s goal is to support workplaces in creating a positive environment for staff to flourish, and that ethos begins with creating a workplace culture characterized by empathy and compassion.

Moreover, we create value towards ESG strategies for businesses helping create a more resilient, productive and innovative workforce that is well positioned for the future.

What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?

Having a company based in London brings an incredible confluence of finance, legal, regulatory, funding, VC and entrepreneurship. It is also a city of amazing talent, which is a great help with recruitment across all our departments.

Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?

Having a business based in London comes with a higher cost of talent. Living in a major global city is always going to be significantly more expensive especially now with the cost of living crisis.

How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?

The ongoing cost of living crisis is having a substantial impact on the world. It is up to employers to help their employees.

A recent survey conducted by YuLife revealed 80% of adults say that they currently worry about their financial wellbeing to some extent, which rises to 88% of adults who live in households with children. Mortgage, rent, food and travel are increasing.

Concerns around employees’ financial wellbeing should be a priority – this doesn’t only affect people personally, but their job performance too. Our survey found that 80% of workers believe that stress around financial wellbeing can negatively impact performance in the workplace.

Some steps employers can take are offering competitive salaries when hiring, increase wages or provide bonuses. They can also aid by improving employees’ money management and financial planning, providing education about an individual’s incomings and outgoings.

At YuLife, our membership includes free access to Moneyhub, a money management app that helps individuals feel in control of their finances. While the cost of living crisis presents challenges, companies must learn to respond in the right way by helping support employee financial wellbeing.

At YuLife our mission is to inspire life and turn financial products into a force for good.

If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?

That’s a very difficult question and hard to say, I have lived in London my whole life and would struggle to do that!

How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?

Brexit has had no meaningful impact.

What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?

Over the next five years, YuLife is set to continue its impressive expansion to date and use our market leadership in game mechanics in financial services to roll out our offering across an ever-wider range of businesses across additional geographies worldwide.

While never deviating from our core goal of using financial products as a vehicle to improve people’s quality of lives, we plan to expand YuLife’s offering to encompass more types of financial and insurance products, tailored to individuals’ needs.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

Make sure to check out our website: https://yulife.com/ See recent news here:

https://sifted.eu/articles/digital-health-soonicorns/

https://www.reuters.com/business/british-insurtech-firm-yulife-raises-120-mln-led-by-dai-ichi-life-2022-07-07/

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-workplaces-are-failing-to-meet-esg-expectations-finds-latest-yulife-and-yougov-report/

Follow YuLife on Twitter or Linkedin.

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