Bio: Adam Lyons is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TheZebra.com. Launched nationally in December 2013, TheZebra.com allows drivers to compare over 200 insurance providers on factors such as coverage types, coverage levels, claims rankings, and price. The award-winning site also allows insurance carriers and captive agents to target specific risks. Prior to TheZebra.com, Adam launched Meltwater Press, to help users build relevant media lists and efficiently distribute news. Before Meltwater, Adam worked at Lloyd’s of London in Excess & Surplus Lines commercial insurance as an underwriter and at All Risks LTD., one of the nation’s largest wholesalers. He founded TheZebra.com to simplify insurance shopping.
Adam holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Risk Management & Insurance from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Adam was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Austin, TX where TheZebra.com is headquartered.
We asked Adam a few questions to learn more about his background and company. Below are his answers.
Hobbies: Making or listening to music, playing hockey, giving back to the community/working with charities
Favorite Food: Home-made brisket or Chilean sea bass
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Year graduated from Temple and degree: 2009, Bachelor of Business Administration, Risk Management
Stage of your business (Early, Mid, Advanced): We’re still a young, fast growing company. Today, we’re generating revenues and have about 40 employees.
Personal statement: Entrepreneurship has been an amazing journey for me so far. I’ve been rejected and told I would fail countless times, I’ve raised $6 million+ dollars in venture capital, I’ve been on the receiving end of cease and desist letters and made big mistakes, I’ve had the chance to speak and accept an award at the United Nations, I’ve learned about myself and made unpopular decisions in high pressure situations, learned about other people of all types, and I recently made Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of top entrepreneurs. Every day is a roller coaster. Entrepreneurship is fun, challenging and one of those things that the more you know, the more you realize you have left to learn. They say Entrepreneurship is like jumping out a plane and building the parachute on the way down. I think that’s pretty accurate.
Financial earning information: We now have hundreds of thousands of users coming to our site every month, we’re processing millions of quotes and generating multi-million dollar revenues.
What lessons have you learned?
I’ve learned that people matter more than anything. Not only how smart or experienced someone is, but what kind of person they are. You need to surround yourself with people that inspire you, and you can’t underestimate that.
Why were you inspired to start your own company?
I could never work the typical 9-5, 40hr/ week job. So now I work 100 instead :)
Who is your mentor / idol and why?
I really admire Rony Kahan, the founder of Indeed.com. I’ve had the chance to work with him in Austin, TX and he’s one of the most grounded, sharp folks I’ve encountered. He’s able to see things with amazing clarity in a variety of scenarios with an extremely objective view regardless of what’s popular or other folks are doing. He’s a true entrepreneur who knows how to win.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I think initially getting the rating data and convincing billion dollar insurance companies to adopt our model and work with us was a challenge. At the beginning they weren’t too keen on investing in the technology required, and there was the classic chicken and egg problem. We needed volume to get insurance companies on board, and we needed the insurance companies on board to get volume.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
There’s no book that’s going to tell you how to do it, or one person you can talk to that will have the answers you’re looking for. If you’re truly creating something that’s innovative and new, then by definition it’s never been done before. YOU are the one who has to be resourceful, scrappy, make tough calls, and figure it out.
Tell us what’s next for you and your business?
Telling the world we’re here! We’ve spent a lot of time building the product and now we get to do the fun part and help drivers compare car insurance.