Meet Maria Goy, Co-Founder and CEO of Spot Insurance.
Maria Goy’s story embodies the qualities of leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurial success. She began her career at Accenture, where she gained the global market experience that would shape her career path. Maria's journey encompasses a vast corporate background, including roles at Starbucks, Paramount Pictures, MTV, Cole's Technology, and New York Life Insurance. Today, she is co-founder and CEO of Spot Insurance, an insurance company with partners such as USA Cycling and Ikon Pass. In our exclusive interview, Maria Goy shares her story on transitioning from corporate to cofounder, and offers guidance for young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and career journey?
I was lucky enough to start my career at Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture. That really opened the door for me to work across different verticals in America as well as Europe and Asia while getting to span across different markets. So, I learned a lot from there. I also had the privilege of working for companies like Starbucks, Paramount Pictures, Viacom Networks,, and New York Life Insurance, where I formally retired from my corporate career. In that journey, I worked with incredible leadership teams that helped teach and shape my perspective of technology and how we apply it to solving business problems.
What inspired you to embark on your entrepreneurial journey and start Spot, especially considering your background in corporate tech and insurance?
I never thought I would find myself on the founder side of the house. I was somebody who just craved stability. I took my job at Anderson Consulting and was like, I'm gonna be a partner here. It was really that feeling that I was willing to walk through any open door at a certain point in my career and take chances on myself and other teams. So, through that sort of life adventure, I actually got the chance to work with New York Life.
I read a book at one point: “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clay Christensen. I realized I wanted to do more than negotiate deals on behalf of somebody else's P&L. My family immigrated here from South Korea. I discovered my passion for going into insurance as I saw [firsthand] what the impact of not having insurance was. [I thought] how can I apply [my passion] to doing something bigger for the world than I had anticipated? So, it was a leap of faith and walking through doors as they opened and trying not to look back at it.
Could you share some of the most significant challenges you faced in the early stages of building Spot, and how you navigated through them?
Running a startup that's supposed to drive accelerated growth while having to balance the extension of a runway, and speeding up the path to profitability, and then caring for people all at the same time is the biggest day-to-day challenge. Because you want to have that business-to-soul ratio right. And sometimes it's not going to be 50-50. So navigating that and not feeling like a failure is a challenge. When you have to make hard decisions that are based on bad decisions you've made or just market conditions, you're essentially being forced into those challenges. So maintaining your self-value, your self-worth, and all of that during that time can be a challenge.
What does a day in your life look like?
I generally wake up and try to spend the mornings when I can with my husband, walking our dogs. It’s our way of kicking off the day together. And then it's Zoom meetings from 9:00 to somewhere around 6:30. There’s a break for dinner, time with the dogs. Hopefully, you squeeze a workout in, and then it's going back on the laptop trying to just wrap up the day. I have a personal process of a zero inbox. It takes a lot of work. But it really helps me to feel like I've like closed out the day and I know exactly what I'm starting the next day off with, like, protocol things to start.
What advice would you give to students and young professionals who are passionate about entrepreneurship and want to bring their ideas to life?
There's a myriad of different things I would say. Know what you're passionate about and the purpose that you want to put out into the world. Because it's the first stage of defining who you are. I spent quite a bit of time in my early career trying to figure out what I was passionate about, versus what my family wanted me to be passionate about. And I'd also say, be willing to take chances and walk through open doors. You might find that you're really passionate about one thing, but somebody opens the door and you have a little bit of curiosity. Your passion can actually grow and shift and change. And it's really important to think about that and take those opportunities, even if they seem scary.
The third thing I'd say is to think long and hard about who you want to surround yourself with both professionally and personally. Those are the people who really will be there to support you, to help bring you up and to drive you forward. I constantly think about how lucky I am to be surrounded by just such incredible people, both professionally and personally. And the last one I would say is to really embrace your failures, but don't wallow in them. Own them, be accountable to them, and share what you've learned from them or what you're doing differently next time. You're gonna be your worst critic. Just don't let those failures consume you. Resilience is one of the most important behaviors any young entrepreneur or future founder can have and demonstrate in life.
Spot has established remarkable strategic partnerships with organizations such as USA Cycling. Could you share your advice or strategies on how you went about establishing and nurturing these partnerships?
Nurturing relationships matters, like caring about your partner's business objectives and goals really matters. Showing them that they're not just a payday for you. I had a really incredible mentor who led up Tata Consulting back in the day. He was the chairman and is now one of those senior leaders. So, early in my days, when I met him, one of the questions I asked him was, “I'm so surprised that you've invested in this relationship with me.” His response was that he saw my potential, and in those early days, I might not have been the person making those key decisions, but he was always willing to be there for me—always willing to nurture the relationship that we had, offering me advice at no cost.
His point of view was someday I would make the decision, someday I would have outsized influence on the decision and that's when I would call him. And like 10 years later, I'm in the situation, and when I need help, he's the person I called. And [that’s] because I had already established so much trust with him. So I really do think about partnerships and relationships that way. What is my partner trying to solve for? And if I don't have a solution for them, is there somebody I can introduce them to who does? And is there something meaningful that I can do for them and just show that I care about their business objectives, even if I can service those at this exact moment? So there’s kind of the soul-to-business ratio. It's not just another deal.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs seeking investment for their ventures?
The advice I would give is to know your story really well. I have an incredible co-founder—he’s the best storyteller ever. He could sell you your own shadow for over 20 bucks. And he just has the gift of sharing a vision and being able to articulate. He was able to do that before we had a product to even share.
So, what I learned in that part of the journey really was that it's crucial to know your own story. Like when you're going out to raise from an investor in your series A or your seed or your pre-seed, they're not really investing in the idea. They are, but they're actually investing in you. They're investing in the potential they see in you. I would just say, know your story. Know that the investor is investing in you, not just what you're trying to build.
Could you recommend three books or podcasts, and explain why you find them valuable?
I really love Logan Bartlett. He is an investor who has a podcast, and the most recent one I listened to was his interview with Claire Hughes Johnson, the former CFO of Stripe. He just gets into these really detailed conversations around people's experiences and asks questions from an investor's point of view. But he also interviews a lot of founders. So there's always a lot of really great nuggets of operational advice in there from the people he interviews. So I like that a lot. And then there’s the “Huberman Lab” with Andrew Huberman. The last one I listened to was: How to have hard conversations? And he was interviewing the former head of FBI critical negotiations and it was just really great. So those are probably my favorite podcasts, and then the fourth one is obviously “All In.” Many people listen to that one, but just the life experience between the four gentlemen that are there, and they get into some pretty deep political discussion and debate. It's also a great way of showcasing you can have really deep, challenging conversations whilst still maintaining your best friendships.
Today, Maria Goy’s company Spot is the go-to insurance for over 3 million active experiences, with partners such as USA Cycling and Ikon Pass. Visit www.getspot.com to learn more about their innovative insurance solutions.
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