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Simon Powell, Fit2Trip

Fit2Trip provides the perfect travel insurance for those who have pre-existing health conditions and was created with support from our Student Enterprise team

After spending 20 years in the financial services and travel insurance sectors, Simon Powell returned to education to undertake an MSc in Digital Marketing at LSBU. It was while here that he spotted a distinct, growing gap in the insurance market and came up with the idea for his new business, calling it Fit2Trip .

Seeking support from LSBU’s Student Enterprise, new entrepreneur Simon started his business in the hope that it would provide a solution to a very real-world challenge.

Travel cover for those with health impairments

Fit2Trip is Simon’s travel insurance provider for people with disabilities and health impairments. "Outside the UK, it's very hard for consumers with a pre-existing health condition to get travel insurance," explains Simon. "So I came up with the idea of using the underwriting expertise available here in the UK, to develop a product for the European market that incorporates medical screening, a system that allows customers to declare their medical conditions, meaning they can get travel cover despite any health concerns they may have. This gives customers the assurance they need while also helping insurance companies manage the risk."

The perfect support for getting started

Simon started his business in 2014 through the Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme, which provides LSBU graduates with funding, advice, guidance and office space at the Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation. "Having the idea is the easy bit, but it's the executing it that's hard. The funding and practical help I had from the University got me where I wanted to be quicker, and enabled me to retain control. Without that support I think I’d have ended up in a Dragon's Den-type situation, having to hand over part a large part of the business to an external partner.”

In 2015 Simon then won first place in the Start Up category of Make It Happen, Student Enterprise's competition for students and graduates with the drive to succeed as freelancers or entrepreneurs. He was awarded £2,000 funding, a year's free office space and a membership to the Institute of Directors.

A boost at the right time

"This was a fantastic boost for my business at a critical time of its development and I was so grateful to the judges, particularly given the excellent competition I faced. The office space prize ensured that I still had access to LSBU's excellent facilities and the Student Enterprise team," he says.

With this valuable experience at LSBU behind him, Simon is enthusiastic about the benefits it could provide to other would-be entrepreneurs and business people. "Definitely embrace the opportunities that LSBU can give you academically, socially and commercially," he says. "It's also important not to just think about your course, but what you are going to do afterwards. LSBU provides a fantastic platform for start-up enterprises and employability."

Building on early success

Nearly three years down the line, Simon’s business is going from strength to strength, with the business continuing to grow, additional capital raised for further expansion and even the shortlisting for an industry International Travel Insurance Journal award. “Being shortlisted was exciting and a little humbling; we were one of three finalists in a category that pitched us against Money Supermarket and Axa Insurance! Part of me was a little disappointed when we lost out, but I soon reflected that what we had achieved, simply by being nominated, as a small company was something special,” Simon says.

Into the future

“As for the present, we continue to work with our partners in Spain and are in the process of finalising a new international underwriting partnership to enable expansion to more countries. I’m really enjoying the day-to-day side of the business, setting strategy, acting on it and seeing positive results. I really do love it when a plan comes together!

“There are definitely challenges though, with the main one being that the buck stops with you. If you get it wrong, it is your neck on the line. Aside from this, there are issues that affect all small businesses. When there is only one or maybe a few people running the business, these are external forces over which you have no control over such as BREXIT, which can come along and mean that your plans need to change dramatically. Despite this though, it’s been really positive so far and I’m looking now at expansion into new territories as my main ambition, as well as continually improving the service we provide to our customers.”