We spent the morning sipping coffee and cruising around Austin with Maria to learn how she’s making it easier for the active and travel communities to pursue more of what they love with peace of mind.
In the last couple of years, Spot went through a rebrand, partnered with some fine organizations in the active and travel space—like Ikon Pass, Outside+, Wilderness Collective and Major League Pickleball—and launched a new Trip Protection product.
What started with injury insurance has evolved into a collection of products that make it easier and more affordable for the active community to pursue the things they enjoy most—while preserving the businesses that make it possible for us to play in the spaces we love.
At the helm of this evolution is co-founder and CEO Maria Goy.
If you had to boil it down—who is Maria Goy?
That’s really tough. It’s the sort of question most people think about their entire lives and still not have an answer for… but when you sum it up, I’d say that I am the proud daughter of a Korean immigrant and an army ranger and wife to an incredible man. I have wanderlust deep in my soul. I’m a steadfast and loyal friend who values authenticity, vulnerability, and integrity. Mom to my two pups Stevie (Bernedoodle) and Riley (Yorkshire Terrier). Secret adrenaline junkie. Lover of the outdoors and all things slightly irrational.
Can you take us through your career path?
I started at Anderson Consulting, which is now Accenture, where I led teams all over the US, Europe and Asia. From there, I worked in the retail, media and insurance industries; companies such as Starbucks, Paramount Pictures and, eventually, New York Life Insurance.
That sounds exciting!
There was a little bit of the glitz and glamor you hear about, like going to the MTV Music Awards. Being on the technology side of the house was a lot less sexy, but I loved being able to see how the back end of tech translated to movies way, way down the line.
Gotcha. What was next?
I transitioned from there to corporate Viacom in New York City, where I worked with multiple brands like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV. I had the opportunity to witness how all of those different units operated under a single umbrella and got to see the complexities of everything from product and project management to engineering and technology. From there, I went to work for the CIO at Kohl's and then, eventually, New York Life.
How did your career path prepare you to launch a startup?
I don’t know that anything prepares you to launch a startup. And I never anticipated being an entrepreneur. I think the fact that I got to experience so many rich and diverse corporate and country cultures throughout my career was super important. I can't imagine a better path that would have prepared me for Spot. And I've had some really incredible friends and mentors along the way who have taken the time to personally invest in me, including my co-founder Matt Randall.
Tell us what led you to launch Spot? Were you always interested in insurance?
I was more of a technologist, inspired by my mom who had her Master’s in Software Engineering. And a people person. I was recruited to work for my former boss on his team—when I first started interviewing for the role, I was a little hesitant because I figured insurance wouldn’t be as fast-paced as media or retail.
But then I saw all this underutilized data sitting behind insurance, and I really started to think about how it could be used to make insurance, and the way we access it, better. This idea was really personal and meaningful to me, especially as a second generation immigrant, because I saw first-hand the impact it has on families who don’t have insurance or access to basic coverage… it’s something that should be a basic right—not split between the haves and havenots.
I abated the idea with Matt Randall (my co-founder and friend) and he encouraged me to make the leap… and here we are almost six years later.
Fast forward to today. What’s going on at Spot that you’re most excited about?
I’m really excited about Trip Protection, our third product that launched with Ikon Pass on June 1—it offers financial protection for non-refundable trip costs like pre-paid lift tickets.
I’m also stoked about some really great organizations we’re partnering with. We recently joined Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit that’s working to fight climate change. The Spot team is super active—we’ve got a bunch of cyclists, skiers, snowboarders and anglers—who spend most of their free time doing these things, so it’s important for us to get involved and support the people and organizations who make it possible for us to live that lifestyle.
At the end of the day, we want to make sure we’re delivering products that not only benefit the active community, but help businesses stay sustainable so we can keep doing the things we love. And that’s really meaningful to me.
What do you love most about your role as CEO?
This tiny idea that I had six years ago now lives, breathes and functions on its own, and it’s pretty incredible to bear witness to that. Seeing the team grow, not only in size, but in confidence and skill, is really rewarding. It’s important to me that the team is truly enjoying their work and thriving and growing. Personal growth is one of my personal values, I truly take it to heart.
I also genuinely love seeing our customer stories and the impact that we've made. We had a customer a couple years ago who reached out to tell us how Spot financially saved her when she got hurt—without Spot, she would have lost her apartment and had to file for bankruptcy. I love how we as a company, and team, have built something that can make a meaningful difference for customers.
What do you do to decompress?
I probably need more outlets. Meditation is really important to me because it forces me to take the time to clear my head of the noise and distractions. I'm definitely at my best when I’m able to meditate at the end of the day.
I ride my e-bike everywhere—I probably ride my bike more often than I drive my car at this point, especially when the weather here in Austin is nice.
I love being with my husband and taking our dogs for morning and evening strolls. Working 100% remotely means there’s no commute, no forced physical breaks. So getting outside at the end of the day really helps me wind down.
Spending time with family and friends is a huge one because I think community, and just being able to find time for laughter, is really important. My baby sister just had twins, so I love getting to be her big sister and an auntie.
One last hard-hitting question—where are you eating and drinking in Austin?
Uchi for the sushi!
Loro for lazy lunches and dinners.
Mom’s kitchen (literally) for the best Korean food ever made.
Proud Mary for coffee and funky shaded patio.
Pool Burger for the veggie burger and Trade Wind cocktail.
The Carpenter for fries.
Want to chat about a Spot partnership? Collabs? What beverage to pair with your Carpenter fries? We’d love to hear from you.