Distribution trumps innovation

A catalog of insurtech startups.


A year ago, as the insurtech movement was starting to take off, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz made a presentation to our semi-annual gathering of two dozen insurance company CEOs at Google headquarters and began by saying: "Distribution trumps innovation."

In some ways, that's an obvious statement. An innovation can't spread until you find that first customer, and then the second and then the third. But the statement was still startling to hear from a leader at a premier venture capital firm known for celebrating innovation. I jotted down the line, then looked around the room and saw that just about everyone else was, too.

Distribution trumps innovation.

While we have spent years at ITL fostering innovative ideas by curating what is now more than 2,600 articles by more than 800 of the best thinkers in the insurance and risk management industry, we decided to tackle the distribution piece of the puzzle, too. We began by cataloging all the insurtech startups, a list that now exceeds 800, and making it as easy as possible to search the startups based on technology, location, problem being addressed, etc. We gathered that information at a site that I've mentioned several times to you now: the Innovator's Edge. We've found that those looking for innovators need to know more, so we've taken the next step.

We've developed what we call Innovator's Edge Exchange. The foundation of IEx is the Market Maturity Review, which takes startups about a half-hour to fill out and which provides detail on where they stand in five crucial areas: the maturity of their technology, of their experience in the insurance industry, of their work with relevant regulations, of their operations and of their funding. Startups have begun to fill out these surveys to be discovered by potental customers, and I encourage everyone on the list to do so by going to the IE Exchange site. The more complete the list of startups in IEx, the more valuable it'll be to incumbents looking for innovators, and the more likely everyone will benefit. If you're not on the list and should be, please let me know at paul@insurancethoughtleadership.com. If you're an incumbent and want to be notified when you can sign up to get access to all the market maturity information we're gathering -- probably in late February -- you can sign up here


Paul Carroll,

Paul Carroll

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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership.

He is also co-author of A Brief History of a Perfect Future: Inventing the Future We Can Proudly Leave Our Kids by 2050 and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of a best-seller on IBM, published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter; he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He later was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.


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