Getting To Know You: Humphrey Bowles, co-founder, Guardhog Technologies

Humphrey Bowles

Humphrey Bowles tells Business Matters that failure and fear are friend’s not foes and if you take them on in business you grow and become stronger

What do you currently do at GUARDHOG Technologies?

I am co-founder at GUARDHOG Technologies and their home-sharing geek.

GUARDHOG is the pay-per-stay home-sharing insurance specialist that is filling a huge gap in the peer-to-peer accommodation market working alongside 300 home-sharing partners including Airbnb, Home Exchange, and TrustedHousesitters. We’ve built some creative world-first insurance products powered by neat technology that allows hosts to connect their property listings to GUARDHOG so hosts don’t have to do anything and they still only pay for cover when they have guests to stay.

My role is fully-focused on relationships and strategy, continuing to build the business one percy pig at a time.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I joined the home-sharing revolution in 2011. I helped grow one of the first home-sharing platforms and used that as a spring board to launch GUARDHOG after identifying insurance as a significant barrier to participation.  Insurers view making money from your home as a ‘commercial activity’ and will not normally cover it through a home insurance policy.

This leaves hosts uninsured when they have guests in their home which is obviously untenable. Insurers are also very slow to respond to new markets and preferring to drive whilst looking out of the rearview mirror so I saw the opportunity to offer simple, flexible, cost effective insurance for the growing communities of people sharing their homes.

GUARDHOG is a creative, rather than disruptive, company as we enable anyone to get involved with home-sharing, allowing them to earn money from a spare room or from their whole home when they are away, safe in the knowledge they and their home are covered for any damage or liability arising during a guests stay. We also act as a revenue unblocker for the home-sharing platforms and create new premium for the insurance industry so all in all we believe we’ve helping accelerate growth for all.

Who do you admire?

Mums. Mums are the most amazingly resourceful and resilient human beings. Mums go through the toughest multi-tasking training known to human-kind, are proven to be able to think creatively under pressure in front of a hyper-critical public audience and understand the real meaning of organisation and productivity.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

When starting out I’d have told myself that failure and fear are friend’s not foes. Success is neither straight-forward, guaranteed or totally in your control so facing both is par for the course. The great news is that both create opportunities and by taking them on you grow and become stronger.

What defines your way of doing business?

Creativity: despite its image insurance is one of the most creative industries out there.

Critical thinking: it’s so important to be able to critically reflect on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, why you’re doing it and what is driving you to do it. Everything happens for a reason.

Customers. behind every decision that will affect a customer put yourself in their shoes. Even better, pick up the phone and ask them directly what they think.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Start lean, be keen and just go for it. Life is too short to not do work that matters to you so have the confidence to back yourself and put yourself out there. The worst is never as bad as you think and you will learn so much more than spending thousands on a course on learning about how other people run a business. And don’t underestimate the power of emotional intelligence… it’s the swiss army knife of every deal.