Gwent insurance comparison IT firm set for growth

Craig Teague, Next Venture

Leading Wales-based “insurtech” firm Next Venture Technologies is looking to boost its business by cultivating home grown talent.

The business, which is based at Torfaen’s Mamhilad Park, Pontypool, says the move will not only save money for the firm but could also serve to help halt Wales’ brain drain.

Next Venture supplies services which allow companies through the insurance supply chain to connect their systems and establish new channels to market. A large part of the market is dominated by price comparison sites many of whom are now customers.

Next Venture Founder and Technical Director Stephen Peck says: “The provision of software services has changed rapidly in recent years, customers who might use any number of internet services such as Google, Facebook, Facebook and Airbnb are rightfully expecting a similar level of flexibility and service from the services used by their businesses.

“The challenge we have is to ensure a high level of both technical and commercial knowledge so our developers can build commercially relevant services using new technology which in turn gives greater functionality, quicker implementation at a lower cost base.

“While it is tempting to employ experts in my mind one has to be careful not to outsource the responsibility and add layers of cost associated with traditional software companies. To mitigate this we have successfully used a “grow your own” approach. While this is not simple and requires significant investment in time it does provide a clear differentiation to our services both in terms of the flexibility, relevance and cost.”

Stephen says the business is looking to forge close links with local universities and colleges to see how they can work collaboratively to help fill career positions at the software business

Recent figures demonstrate that is a severe skills shortage of people with software development skills and that this poses risks for Wales’ burgeoning Financial and Insurance Technology, so called fintech and insurtech, firms.

It’s claimed skilled positions, requiring graduates with the correct coding and software development skills, are at a premium. Many suitable candidates are said to adding to the South Wales ‘brain drain’ by heading to fintech hotspot in London while those that are available command a very high salary.

Next Venture is doing its bit to help reverse the trend.

Stephen said: “As part of our unique service we require our staff to have both technical skills and an interest and knowledge in our customers and their markets. To achieve this we needed to create an environment where there is a high degree of responsibility given to staff to ensure their output generates the value we want.

“To make this work we ensure the context and commercial objective of any customer work is fully understood. While this is not simple and requires a lot of management time we find this gives a greater quality of output. This also leads to a low staff turnover rate as everyone is able to contribute to their full potential.”

Next Venture lead software developer Craig Teague, aged 31, from Griffithstown, near Pontypool, is an example of ‘home grown’ in house talent Next Venture aims to develop. Craig, who attended West Mon School, Pontypool College and UWIC, grabbed the chance to secure a job at Next Venture when the opportunity arose.

Craig said: “We haves lots of new services and customers in the pipeline for the business and therefore plenty of opportunities for software developers to forge a business focused career locally and I urge any new graduates to get in touch.”