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Bright Futures

A new life insurance provider offers cover that changes as the needs of its clients change.

Nadine Todd




The entrepreneurs

Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens and Sean Hanlon spent years in the insurance industry before branching out on their own.

They wanted to radically change the life insurance industry, and while it took them a while to develop exactly what their final product would look like, the Lombard Insurance Group’s team quickly recognised the idea’s potential and came on board as majority shareholder and investment partner.

“They believe in our vision and how we’ve structured the product to offer clients a new option that delivers real value,” says Stevens.

The model

BrightRock focuses exclusively on risk products, from disability cover to life insurance.

“The magic behind what we have created is that each contract is unique. Nothing is generic. Products are chosen based on your specific risk profile, and they change as your situation changes,” explains co-founder Suzanne Stevens.

“When we first started talking about BrightRock we had one common goal in mind: To create a product that fits our clients’ needs, and not the other way around. Insurance tends to be packaged as ‘boxes’ of cover that do not adjust to fit you precisely. We wanted to approach this from a radically different perspective. It’s life insurance that changes as your life changes.”

Related: Success By Design

Making it work

For the product to be simple to understand, all the magic needed to happen in the back-end. “We needed to design a product that gave us the ability to build a very specific policy that matches each client’s needs precisely, without exorbitant costs. It also needed to be simple to understand for non-industry experts. It took us over a year to develop that system.”

Basically, clients tailor their needs across six key financial needs, and they can choose the best pay-out for each need.

”For example, we’re the only insurer to offer clients the option to change their choice of a lump-sum to regular monthly pay-outs at the time when they claim. In addition, as soon as a specific cover is no longer necessary, it falls away. That premium can then be saved, or redirected towards something else.“

The funders

BrightRock is backed by the Lombard Insurance Group, a company with a proud 20-year track record. Lombard’s funding extends to when the business is self-funding. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is backing BrightRock’s ability to pay claims.

Bringing franchisees on board

The BrightRock distribution model is based on a franchise system. Of the approximately 180 people currently associated with the brand, 100 are owner-operators, or franchisees, in the distribution network and the other 80 are employees.

“We are careful to identify people who share our passion and philosophy when appointing franchisees. We’re doing something very different in an old, established industry, so it takes real belief to make it work.”

What’s in a name?

BrightRock is a company born of this era. “It works because we have embraced, harnessed and integrated digital technology with traditional insurance products. That’s what makes the product work; that it can be affordably tailored to each client — and that’s because of the tech.

“We wanted the name to reflect this, but we also wanted it to be something easy to say, spell, and most importantly, Google. BrightRock reflects who we are: We’re solid, long-term and reliable, but also futuristic, new-age and looking towards a bright future.”

Related: WooThemes: Mark Forrester, Adii Pienaar and Magnus Jepson

A flat CEO structure

All four partners are 24/7 full-time directors, but the company does not have a CEO.

“We believe our team works best with four equal voices. Each of us has different areas of expertise and different perspectives. A collective, collaborative leadership style works for us.

“We spent a long time developing this product together, so we know our values and ideals align and we’ve each left well-established corporate careers to create something of our own. We know that we are always going to make the decision that is best for the business.

“This doesn’t mean we will always agree — we aren’t scared of debate — but we will work until we collectively find the best road forward.“

Vital stats

  • Players: Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens and Sean Hanlon
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • X-factor: Needs-matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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