Customer Stories

How Lemonade flipped the insurance model and became a unicorn through a data-informed culture

Kristen Guttas

MAU, or Mobile Apps Unlocked, is a gathering of 2,500+ leaders from top mobile brands around the world that takes place every spring in Las Vegas. Gil Sadis, VP of Product at Lemonade, joined this year to share how his team used customer data to increase their users by 500% in just three years.

Lemonade is best known for gaining unicorn status, disrupting the insurance industry, and building an AI-powered platform with the potential to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a force for social good. Most people don’t realize that they are also a textbook example for what a company can achieve if they put data behind all decision making, from day zero, and continue listening to customers as they scale.

Mixpanel was one of the first tools the team purchased in their very early days, and has been a required training during new hire onboarding ever since. Gil discussed Lemonade’s strong foundation in analytics on-stage during the product breakout session of MAU — watch the recording above if you missed him!

A few key takeaways and learnings from Gil’s MAU presentation are below:

The rate of innovation has increased, and companies need data to keep up

In the last five years alone, we’ve seen 150 unicorns claim their place, compared to the 39 unicorns founded in the prior decade (2004-2014). The rapidity of startups reaching this status that was supposed to be rare is just one of many trends pointing to an increase in the speed of growth and innovation. But what’s behind this increase? The rise of mobile, the constant connectivity of users through social media, and the popularity of behavioral analytics products like Mixpanel are all key contributors.

For Lemonade, customer data has helped them innovate faster by giving them a clear line of sight into their priorities. Lemonade uses Mixpanel to identify trends, understand what’s happening, set goals, take action, and build a feedback loop that powers more discovery and improvements.

Looking at customer data in Mixpanel gave them the discipline they needed to say “no” to certain ideas, and move full steam ahead towards others. When things weren’t working, it gave Lemonade the ability to pivot quickly, so that they could preserve time and resources for projects that had the biggest impact.

Process should enable speed, not hinder it

Lemonade has never built a product roadmap, but they have nurtured processes that incentivize employees to use data daily. They have OKRs at the company level and split their team into squads. Every squad is an autonomous organization that can run fast to meet their unique priorities and KPIs, which they control and justify based on the insights they find in their customer data. By distributing a monthly usage report, Lemonade celebrates the people who use analytics tools the most, creating a flywheel effect where more and more employees want to copy this celebrated behavior.

By empowering every employee with customer insights through Mixpanel, Lemonade has built a culture where if someone has a question, they can just log in to Mixpanel and answer it by themselves. With 95 percent of Lemonade’s employees accessing Mixpanel every day, they all have data informed proof points for what they should care about and prioritize. This allows them to work fast so they don’t have to use roadmaps and arbitrary deadlines to prove effectiveness.

Startups fail from lack of customers, not product development failure

90% of startups fail, and a big reason is they scale too quickly and lose focus on what matters most. 42% of startups fail because they didn’t solve a market need. Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.

But it’s not just about building what your customers ask for. As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Successful product teams identify their customer needs, and then build creative solutions based on their expertise and unique vantage points on the market.

We all work with the same 24 hour days, but letting customer insights guide strategy can help businesses make the most of them, like Lemonade. Never forget, individuals don’t build companies, teams do. By never letting your customer data live in a silo through a cross-departmental tool like Mixpanel, you create a foundation for success.

Huge thanks to Gil for flying out to Vegas to share Lemonade’s story! We are excited to see what he and his team come up with next.

Interested in learning more about what happened at this year’s MAU? Check out recaps by Fluent and Bidalgo.

For more insight into Lemonade’s Mixpanel usage, and the benefits they’ve achieved from listening to their customers, check out their customer testimonial.

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