Buying insurance can be a headache. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would just read all the fine print and explain it in a way that made sense?
Enter RateSonic.com. Brothers Sean and Brandon Canonica and their uncle Larry Canonica had that same thought, put their heads together, and designed RateSonic, a website explaining the ins and outs of auto, home, and renters insurance. Without a sales pitch at the end.
Through a variety of insightful articles, the website details the pros and cons of different insurance companies, what certain policies cover, and what factors may determine your bill. For instance, does your auto policy rate change with your state? Your parking spot? Even your gender?
The brothers earned their BAs in English at the University of Washington and wasted no time putting their writing skills to work. And it takes skill to make articles on auto insurance compelling–but they pull it off. Pairing their abilities and Larry’s extensive experience in the insurance industry, the website has become an invaluable resource.
We asked Sean, CEO of RateSonic, why they decided to build the website and how they’ve found success in their niche. Here’s what he shared with us:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
We started in Pacific County because my uncle, the co-founder of RateSonic, lives there. We have all kinds of family members living there— including our grandparents and cousins. My brother and I’s parents also have a house at the beach.
But my brother and I are in Auburn, WA. That’s where we grew up.
What products or services do you offer?
We offer information to help consumers find the best auto, home, and renters insurance policies. This includes useful articles, guides, and shopping advice.
On RateSonic, people can also find car insurance comparison tools. By using the quote form through our website, users can expect to be connected to insurance agents or companies in their area that will try to give them the best rate possible. Basically, we generate leads for another company, and then they do all the other work of connecting users with the insurance agents.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My uncle worked for a similar company from 2013 to 2018. Eventually, it got acquired, so he left the company. Then, after a couple of years, he came to my brother and me.
So, the business is my twin brother, myself, and my uncle. Since my brother and I can write–we both majored in English–we decided to help him write all the articles. And it just went from there.
We decided to learn more about the business and now we know it inside out. It’s been a fun experience, writing all these articles–hundreds of articles! It probably sounds super boring, but it’s pretty interesting how many angles on car insurance you can find.
There are so many questions to answer. It’s a nuanced thing because there are rebuilt titles, discounts, factors that affect your rates, and different types of coverage.
What is unique about your business?
We don’t try to just sell people insurance. A lot of these other websites send people through the sales funnel just to make money off them.
That’s not necessarily what we’re trying to do. Of course, we want to make money because we’re a business, but our focus is on the consumer. We give honest, objective, unbiased advice to help people find the best policy.
We have excellent information; everything is rigorously fact-checked and edited. And we’ve made our website user-friendly and fast.
Also, we don’t partner with any insurance companies as some do. I think being a family business is unique and marketable as well. It speaks well to the company, being a family-bootstrapped business instead of a giant conglomerate.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would try to have the bigger vision in mind rather than just focusing on the micro level and getting lost in the details.
That happens especially with us because you can never reach perfection when writing articles or designing a website. So, it’s best to keep the big picture in mind, especially in marketing.
What has been your most satisfying moment?
Seeing all our work come together.
We finally launched our website last year, and I saw everything come together–all the articles that I’d written were up on the website. Most victories are incremental, but getting that big start was probably the most satisfying experience.
How do you define success?
Having goals, big or small, and then seeing your efforts come to fruition.
But even if you start a business and it fails, you get the experience of starting it, and that’s a valuable education. So, I think that you’ll be successful no matter what.
If you had a piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?
Don’t wait around trying to plan for everything.
Everyone should have a plan, but, at some point, just jump in. Just start the business, because if you try to plan for the right time, that time will never come. When you start, everything unfolds from there.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Sean’s experience:
Value the customer’s experience. It won’t go unnoticed.
Don’t get lost in the details; keep the big picture in mind.
Make a plan, but don’t let unknowns hold you back from making your business a reality.
If plans do fall through, you’re still moving forward with gained knowledge and wisdom.