Founder in 5: Superscript CEO on burnout, blockchain and launch regrets

Superscript co-founder Cameron Shearer

Cameron Shearer is the co-founder and CEO of Superscript, an insurtech scaleup providing business insurance.

Founded in 2015 by Shearer and Ben Rose, then known as Digital Risks, the London-based company provides flexible subscription-based insurance coverage to SMEs.

Superscript’s coverage includes policies such as employer liability, business interruption and equipment insurance. It has been chosen by Amazon as its sole insurance partner in the UK.

The company has raised £20m in Series A funding and has been backed by the likes of Concentric, Seedcamp and BHL Holdings. The company told UKTN that it has plans for a Series B round later this year.

Over the last year, it has doubled its active customers and tripled its employee headcount.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Shearer reveals what he wishes he’d done differently when launching Superscript, his tools for fighting burnout and explains why he thinks blockchain is misunderstood.

1. What one thing do you wish you’d done differently when launching your company?

Cameron Shearer: I would have started fundraising earlier, hired senior leadership roles quicker, and pushed myself to breakaway from the day-to-day sooner.

However, all of these are certainly easier said than done and are somewhat interlinked. Typically, your track record and experiences are critical to getting the right buy-in from investors and talent, at the right time. Sometimes, you just have to go on the journey and do it better next time.

2. How do you prevent burnout for yourself and your staff?

CS: When the company leadership values work-life balance, it naturally filters down into the wider culture. Personally, I find that I’m less prone to burnout and more productive when I’m balancing a healthy lifestyle. I’m big into my fitness and exercise regularly. I’ve solved some of my biggest challenges while on a run!

In terms of our people, we actively invest in their wellbeing; such as hosting regular workout and personal training sessions, providing mental health services and many social initiatives. And that’s just a few of the things we do.

3. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

CS: Scaling a fast-growth business is high pressure, but can be equally rewarding for people who are motivated by that. It provides an environment for true innovation. I love watching new initiatives spark and kindle into life. I love bringing people together, supporting their development and seeing them deliver work they are proud of. I love when teams overcome challenges together. That is super rewarding.

However, there is typically a commercial balance to be struck. Having to manage people’s ambitions in line with the mission can often be challenging, particularly when you need to keep everyone motivated.

4. Tell us about a time you screwed up?

CS: I was working in advertising years ago and had prepared the technical infrastructure for an online nationwide promotion. We’d guessed at what we thought the website traffic would be at launch, then tripled it – just to make sure the system could handle the load. Totally wrong.

The campaign had attracted closer to 20x our best guess, so naturally everything crashed instantly. While the client stood over my shoulder and everyone was freaking out, we luckily managed to scale up and get everything back online relatively quickly. It was a tough moment.

5. What’s the most misunderstood technology?

CS: Because we’re particularly close to it at Superscript, I’d say blockchain, digital assets and distributed ledger technology is very misunderstood.

Many see this technology and think of Bitcoin, but it is about so much more than just digital currencies. The idea of ownership in the digital world, and decentralising where power lies online has truly transformative potential.

A lot of brilliant businesses based on this technology have developed useful products, and are disrupting a spectrum of sectors. There’s no doubt in my mind that the tech is here for the long-run.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scaleups, unicorns and public tech companies – is published every Friday.