“If you want an expert, go to Google, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in any one thing, but my brother Carl and I have a breadth of knowledge, which we feel has been of greater value than specific expertise,” observed Torey Maerz, Founder of Rocket Referrals, during his conversation with BIZ Executive Director Mike Colwell at the January edition of the BIZ luncheon. While that observation is likely too humble given Maerz’s impressive credentials earned as an officer in the IT departments of the likes of Principal and Appcore, it does point to the underlying cause of the success he has found with Rocket Referrals.
Described at a high level as an automated referral system; Rocket Referrals reviews client data through use of a proprietary algorithm which then identifies those customers who are more likely to serve as referral generators and then through its fulfillment arm automatically proceeds to develop and cultivate a relationship which makes the eventual referral far more likely. While the development of components of the fulfillment vehicle is a worthy product development story in itself, the questioning from Colwell, in the interview format of the presentation, began at the beginning asking where the idea originated.
“I’ve tried to build start-ups in the past with an original idea which I thought would be a cool product, but this time I chose to take a different approach,” explained Maerz. “I knew there were a million problems out there that needed to be solved, and I just needed to find one,” he said of his decision to leave a CIO position to found a company that had neither a product nor service in mind.
Choosing to find a problem to solve in the insurance industry, explaining that insurance agents were generally approachable and readily found in the yellow pages, Maerz contacted 30 random agents to interview regarding their involvement with technology, and the challenges of their business models. Ultimately, through conversation, he discovered that referrals were key to agent’s business growth, and that the gap between fairly high customer satisfaction and fairly low referral rates suggested a problem that could be addressed.
Download a summary of the conversation (pdf file)