The Red Frame Lab Imagine Series is a program designed to bring young entrepreneurs to Denison to start dialogue with students about the business world. Kridler started in entrepreneurship by chance. In college, her aim was to become a professional soccer player. A graduate of Purdue University in ‘14, she trained extensively for years while studying Natural Resources and Environmental Science.
“I really love soccer,” says Kridler. “I’ve used it as an anchor throughout my entire life.”
But, soccer didn’t seem to be in the cards for her.
“Although it has opened up so many opportunities for me in education and experience, I wanted to do something other than be a professional athlete. So, I put myself out there, emailing people I looked up to in business, saying things about their accomplishments. The good thing about Columbus is that it has a lot of business quality but it isn’t extremely overpopulated, and this went into my advantage.”
After building a network, she was hired as one of seventeen first employees of Root Car Insurance, an independent company in Columbus, Ohio. Root is a car insurance company founded on the belief that people who drive well are less likely to get into accidents, and that those people should pay less for insurance. With that in mind, Root set out to reinvent an industry that was still assigning insurance rates based on demographics and an archaic agent structure.
The insurance company utilizes smart phones and other technology to measure how safe the driver is, determining who is a safe driver and who isn’t. Only a couple of years after Kridler was employed, Root has grown exponentially to over 250 people and plans to hire even more within the next six months. Kridler currently holds the title of Vice President of People and is one of seven employees who report to the CEO of Root Insurance with ideas, new employee resumes and more. Working 10 to 12 hours a day (sometimes even more), Kridler tries to balance her time properly.
“I’ve always thought of experiences as deeper than surface level,” says Kridler. “I question myself always with: What are you actually experiencing? I try and see the bigger picture, and give myself agency in making my own schedule while being on a fixed schedule.”
Through it all, soccer is still part of her life: she works as an Assistant Women’s Soccer coach at Capitol University every other week. Kridler also works with an exec coach to give her further advice for future endeavors in business and entrepreneurship in Root Insurance and for her career.
“I’m excited about how much I can grow,” says Kridler. “I’m learning a lot about myself through the job and I want to break conventional wisdom in entrepreneurship telling [young people] what they ‘should know’ and ‘shouldn’t know’ about business.”
Kridler offers advice to college students wanting to become part of a startup right out of college.
“Smaller startups have the luxury of carving out positions and if you have an expertise, you could put your direct experience on the table and potential employers love that,” says Kridler. “Know that you have to take a torch to some ideas quickly and develop new ones, remember to empower yourself and own your own narrative. Take inventory of what feels right, keep people you want to be around you and remember your influence on the world.”
The next Red Frame Lab Imagine Series event will feature Claire Coder, founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. Aged at 21, Coder started the business at 18 with a passion to bring women 100% organic menstrual products. Coder will be visiting Denison for a lunch open to all students on November 8th, from 11:30 – 12:30 in the Red Frame Lab.
Have more questions about working for a startup? Clara Kridler encourages students to reach out. Contact Kerry Shea Penland ([email protected]) for more info. You can also check out Root Insurance Company at www.joinroot.com.