Success stories

“We are interested in foreign markets, but not at all costs”

How InsurTech company vlot weighs up the opportunities and risks of internationalization

Founded in 2017, vlot offers an analysis software service that identifies all risks in the areas of retirement savings, risk gaps, and mortgage affordability, and then suggests alternative courses of action in relation to supplementary products. As a B2B company, vlot works with partner companies that use the vlot software to offer their end customers a holistic view of their financial health. vlot is one of Switzerland’s successful InsurTech start-ups and began dealing with internationalization at an early stage as informed Michael Dritsas. CEO of vlot.

Michael Dritsas, CEO, vlot

We took off the rose-colored glasses and looked at the issue of internationalization with a thorough dose of rationality. It was very valuable for us to take part in an S-GE workshop on internationalization, where based on an assessment of export readiness, open exchange with other companies, and expert opinions, we decided to postpone the expansion further.

Michael Dritsas, CEO, vlot

vlot is a young company, but was the move abroad already on the cards?

Internationalization was part of our agenda right from the start. We repeatedly took steps abroad and quickly landed on the international stages of our industry, such as the Digital Insurance Agenda and Insurtech Insights. The Innosuisse trade fair program, which is offered in cooperation with S-GE, proved a great help here. We also enjoyed some successful pilot projects abroad, but in Switzerland things just went a little faster. In that regard, we have decided to focus on increasing profitability for now – particularly against the backdrop of the challenging overall economic environment.

A decision with many implications. As a start-up that is driving many other processes at the same time, how do you manage to maintain an overview?

It’s actually not easy to assess the situation realistically. As a start-up, you always see the opportunities first, and investors also see the potential more than anything else. But there is a huge difference between what kind of options the numbers on paper suggest and what you can actually implement as a specific company, for example in China. That’s why it helps to hear an independent and honest opinion.

Is this why you recently attended an Export Workshop at S-GE?

First of all, the workshop forced us to really get to grips with the topic and create the resources internally to collect all the information, create analyses, and finalize discussions. At the workshop itself, the offer from S-GE helped to structure our approach and to make sober deliberations. This enabled us to envision more clearly how conditions in Switzerland are much more favorable and that things are often tougher abroad. What is credited to us as strength here may be a basic requirement there.

Is the price of internationalization very high in your situation?

Quite frankly, we are not prepared to devote so many resources to the subject of internationalization at this stage. Instead, we are currently investing in our product and the domestic market and exploring suitable partnerships for targeted expansion. In hindsight, there are doubts as to whether the product was mature enough back then and whether the structure of the company would have been able to withstand that. We also understood that if we wanted to expand into a new country in our segment, one of the four of us from the management team would have to be on site for an extended period of time, which was not possible for many reasons.

You ultimately decided against moving abroad at the time. If the question came up again, would you take a different approach today based on the experience gained so far?

In the beginning, you’re always opportunistic. When you’re a young company and someone enthusiastically invites you to “Timbuktu” your first thoughts are “Cool, I’ve always wanted to go there.” But the structured approach to the issue of internationalization has shown us that we first need to develop a go-to-market strategy before embarking on the adventure. We have defined specific criteria for us regarding the ease of doing business, such as regulatory framework conditions, partner potential, general market potential, and cultural fit. For example, we now have a checklist that allows us to assess opportunities realistically. Through analyzing the different business models, we realized that we probably wouldn’t expand abroad ourselves, but rather through the large groups that are among our customers.

What’s your personal tip for other companies looking to start exporting or strengthen their position abroad?

Be self-critical – ask yourself if this is the right moment, including from a personal perspective. Of course, there are setups where internationalization may be necessary. But internationalization always comes with a cost first, and that the bet pays off is anything but trivial.

What are your future plans in terms of internationalization?

Internationalization is definitely not off the table for us. We are interested, but not at all costs. Things remain exciting!


To obtain a strategic and comprehensive market evaluation, vlot took part in our export workshop, which we hold regularly with newcomers to internationalization. The workshop format offers the opportunity to jointly assess potential export markets based on company-specific criteria, to equip start-ups with the necessary skills and tools to enable a realistic self-assessment, and to promote dialog among peers.

Felicitas Gartmann, Consultant for Internationalization Starters, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Go global workshop for internationalization starters (october-december 23)

Are you starting your journey in new markets and looking for a clear strategy as well as valuable feedback to validate it? Then we invite you to the three-part workshop for internationalization beginners.




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