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Alexis Vertefeuille

Sinistar is the largest community of hosts dedicated to disaster relocation. Our online marketplace connects local hosts with insurance companies looking to temporarily relocate their policyholders. We believe that all families should be able to count on their neighbours’ support in a time of crisis.

Tell us about yourself?

I started Sinistar in 2017 when I was still in university completing a dual degree in law and management. Through building the business, I became interested in insurance and contract law. These are skills I now use every day when closing relocation contracts with insurers.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

When you start a business, a lot of people are going to give you advice. But few have done what you’re hoping to do, and valuable insight is rarer than you think. So, I would say to reach out to individuals who have succeeded and are in the position you aspire to be in. Those are the people you want to listen to.

What problem does your business solve?

Sinistar in Toronto
Sinistar in Toronto

Before Sinistar, the disaster relocation market was highly exclusive. Prices were through the roof, but only a few large landowners benefited. Now, anyone—even small property owners—can rent out their home to insurance companies through Sinistar. Disaster victims get to stay in their neighbourhood, in a fully furnished and equipped temporary accommodation. And insurance companies can streamline their relocation process while benefiting from a competitive market.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Shortly before founding Sinistar, I had run into a friend whose mother had lost her home to a fire and was living at a hotel. That’s when I realized there was a market for disaster relocation. Looking more into it, I learned that a handful of large real estate holders were getting almost all the insurance companies’ relocation contracts. Disaster victims, on the other hand, were often relocated dozens of kilometres away from their homes. I thought it was time for this conservative market to change, so I made it happen.

What is your magic sauce?

We’re a small team of highly talented, passionate, and hard-working young people. This is far from the norm in the insurance world, but it has made us successful. We can move fast and come up with innovative solutions using the latest technology—things our more traditional competitors have struggled with. We are also bringing the sharing economy to the disaster relocation business in a move to make it more competitive. Claims adjusters like to work with us because they know they’re not just lining the pockets of large corporations. They’re giving business to local landowners who really care about the families they are housing.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We are working on consolidating our presence across Canada before expanding into international markets. The plan is to establish the company in the US and Europe, where our platform would likely be the first of its kind.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a tech company, one of our greatest challenges has been to find and retain qualified staff amid a labour shortage. We have achieved so much already with our small team. But our future growth depends largely on our ability to attract top talent in a highly competitive job market. To offset our staff shortage and protect our employee’s work-life balance, we’ve automated much of our administrative load, and we’ve become a remote-first organization. So, although we have offices in Montréal, our staff can work from anywhere in Canada and enjoy a flexible schedule.

How can people get involved?

Take a look at our website to learn more and get in touch with us!