Insurtech Founders aren’t who you think they are.
Insurtech is naturally a blend of insurance and tech, so the obvious founders might have had a career in insurance and or technology development.
But not so.
The make-up of insurtech founders’ backgrounds is determined by the expertise required for solving the vast array of problems faced by the insurance industry and their consumers. Solutions for these problems include:
- Faster and more accurate modelling of bushfires
- Natural catastrophe modelling that incorporates climate change variables
- Individual pricing (as opposed to grouping individuals into cohorts)
- Near-instant claims settlements
- Higher fidelity & more frequently updated property characteristics
- More seamless and embedded insurance distribution
- More dynamic and connected underwriting
- Sourcing of objective underwriting and claims triggers for parametric Insurance
- Smarter, AI driven risk modelling
The solutions are vast and require expertise across a broad scope of disciplines.
Some of the most successful insurtech founders in the world today started with zero insurance knowledge.
Daniel Schreiber, founder of Lemonade, was a lawyer, who worked in marketing and operations for tech companies ScanDisk and Powermat.
Shai Wininger was a web and digital spaces designer and co-founder of Fiverr before teaming up with Schreiber.
CEO and Co-Founder at Hippo Assaf Wand studied law finance and entrepreneurship and started as an account manager for an Israeli venture capital fund. He founded Sabi home products before jumping into insurance.
Closer to home, Insurtech Gateway London’s Flood Flash was created by Adam Rimmer and Ian Bartholomew. Rimmer started his career as a camp activity coordinator before using his honours in natural sciences to create an analytics tracking tool for the food services industry.
Bartholomew has a PhD in Glaciology & bachelor geography.
Similarly, By Miles founders James Blackham and Callum Rimmer approached a car insurance problem with qualifications in science, art and computer studies and Eusoh community pet pool insurance founder Allen Kamrava is a dual board-certified and top-ranked surgeon.
So what do insurtech founders have in common?
In addition to bringing new technical capability, insurtech founders are solving problems with out of the box and first-principles thinking. You could say a lack of insurance knowledge is what successful founders have in common.
Something that Butter Founders Cassie Bell and Steph Skevington can resonate with. Bell and Skevington are developing a new insurance experience to protect high-value items with a quick and simple policy.
“We’re both from a legal background and approached this as solving our own problems rather than an insurance problem,” Bell said.
“Insurtech is not just about insurance – it’s the tech, the people and bringing it together. It’s so much more than insurance metrics and consumers have changed. There is a shifting focus toward financial wellness, enabled in part by fintech which has lead to the next generation crying out for insurance products that are responsive, digital, offer value for money and are easy to use.”
Skevington said coming from a non-insurance background had helped them discover a gap in the market.
“I think we’ve enjoyed not coming from an insurance background,” Skevington said.
“We have a fresh perspective on how to solve our problem and how it should work, which isn’t backed by the way traditional insurance has always been done.
“Having said that we do get questioned by investors about our deep insurance knowledge and they believe we need that to succeed – which is why we approached Gateway.”
Gateway fills that knowledge gap for Butter that will help them jump the regulatory hurdles that stop so many insurtech founders from making it through to deployment.
Bell said approaching insurance problems without deep knowledge of the industry was a tried and proven path to success.
“Look at Lemonade – Daniel Schreiber and his co-founder had zero insurance background and they’ve built a multi-billion dollar insurance company. In fact, they’ve been quoted as saying that they actively avoided learning about insurance so they didn’t get boxed into traditional methods of delivery.”
Insurtech Gateway CEO Simon O’Dell explains that it’s these founders’ commitment to the “start-up playbook” that enables them to apply their quirky skills and thinking to create products that consumers love.
“It would be quite challenging for a lawyer or a climate scientist to successfully bring a new, disruptive insurance product to market in any other era. Thanks to the start-up methodologies driving this start-up revolution, anyone can be a successful founder. We’ve seen entrepreneurship democratised. If you can afford an internet connection, you can be a start-up founder.
All of our portfolio founders have come from diverse backgrounds and we’ve had to find some insurance expertise to handle any required insurance elements. We often play the role of head-of-insurance until the founders find a suitable hire. It’s not critical on the founding team though, which is the big learning here”.