Tag Archives: insuretech connect

Directive Communication Systems’ Lee Poskanzer

Lee Poskanzer, CEO and Founder of Directive Communication Systems, talks with ITL CEO Wayne Allen about the growth of digital assets and why access to these are at risk of being lost in estate planning without specific legally compliant steps to protect them for heirs. DCS, he says, aims to make this process easier for individuals to decide which assets—from social media, cloud storage, bank accounts and more—should be passed on and to whom..before it’s too late.

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Avanta Ventures’ Sanjiv Parikh

Sanjiv Parikh, Managing Partner of Avanta Ventures, speaks with ITL Chief Innovation Officer Guy Fraker about the company’s mission, which includes not only investments, but also an accelerator/incubator to nurture early stage companies, and identifying and promoting the opportunities of innovation to drive growth for its parent, CSAA Insurance Group.

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Insurtech Ecosystem: Who Will Eat Whom?

At InsureTech Connect, there were a lot of innovative approaches and capabilities on display. But the term “bubble” could be heard on many attendees’ lips, especially those who’d watched the event double in size each year.

In related news, Deloitte put out a report showing that although the flood of insurtech funding continues, funding for new companies is way down. What’s happening? Well, at the end of the day, “insurtech” means selling insurance to someone or selling something to an insurance company. Both of these things are really, really hard and take a really, really long time, no matter how cool your tech is.

Over the past three years, there’s been a lot of news about big funding rounds, but not a lot of news about big exits. Most of the exits we have seen are driven by an incumbent insurer deciding that an acquisition is the best way to incorporate some new capability into its own offerings, or add a cool founder group to their team.

Now it seems that most insurtech investors are using their capital to try to ensure their puppies stay healthy long enough to get taken home by a wide-eyed insurer or tech vendor.

See also: How to Partner With Insurtechs  

During the first fintech boom in the ‘90s, there was a lot of talk about nimble little mammals eating the dinosaurs who refuse to evolve. It was true that the dinosaurs needed to evolve. But they mostly did it by eating the mammals.

For insurers, the insurtech bubble is a great thing. Venture capitalists are funding the R&D that insurers have refused to fund themselves. There’s a lot of great learning to be had for free, and insurers should pay close attention. When the bubble pops, there will be a handful of new participants in the insurance ecosystem, and a whole bunch of nutritious mammal carcasses lying around.

Creating Win-Win-Win Scenarios

At the InsureTech Connect conference, I witnessed several win-win-win scenarios. For example, one of my friends is doing some fantastic work with data models for the auto industry. One of my other friends is doing amazing work on providing back-end infrastructure (secure chain) for carriers and insurtech startups. All I did was make the introduction, and I witnessed something cool – true collaboration, as other introductions have occurred and produced a possible contract for one of my friends.

In my startup journey, I’ve learned we are stronger together and that, the more wins we have, the better for all of us. Even if we are in different industries or verticals in the same industry, the more we collaborate and share, the better for everyone. Startups are interesting, and mentors and experts come in all shapes and experience – folks with deep knowledge/industry expertise and folks who have recent experience in the area they are wanting to disrupt. I’ve seen entrepreneurs chase mentors who have lots of experience. That is awesome! Don’t forget to build relationships with your peers and other startups. The recency of experience for startups is just as important.

See also: Future of Insurance Looks Very Different  

Let’s look at a couple of examples of creating win-win-win scenarios:

Fundraising: Someone who has raised capital for their company 10 years ago is different than someone who is doing that now. Why? Strategies could have changed; players could have changed; and tactics could have changed. For startups wanting to raise capital, talk to your peers who recently raised money. You will get a lot of knowledge vs. a traditional spiel on how to raise money from someone who did it years ago. Collaborate and share! If there is a carrier VC group that may help your colleague, introduce them. If there is an accelerator or competition, share with your network. For insurtechs, insurance is HUGE! I keep joking within our founding team of Benekiva that I have a backlog of problems I want to solve. The only way to win is to collaborate and create win-win-win scenarios not just for you but also for your peers, even if you don’t see a win directly for you.

Prospecting: Prospecting during startup stage takes a different lifecycle than for a traditional mature organization. If you come from sales, don’t get hung up on the “sales process and roles.” Be nimble. Involve your team – diversity and team matter. We’ve seen at Benekiva that, if we stick to traditional sales roles, the passion of the founding team doesn’t come through.

At ITC, I heard someone make a comment: “The best thing to do with knowledge is to share – not to hoard.”

I encourage all my startup colleagues to continue collaborating and train your sixth sense on finding the right collaborative partners. Not everyone talks to you in the spirit of collaboration, but even when you get burned you get great experience and can build a great support system to vet opportunities.

See also: Innovation: ‘Where Do We Start?’  

Indra Nooyi, whom I’ve admired and who was the ultimate boss when I was fortunate enough to be working at Pepsico, said during a graduation address at Wake Forest University that it’s crucial to help others rise. “Greatness comes not from a position,” she said, “but from helping build the future.”

Cheers to creating win-win-win scenarios!