The InsurTech Accelerator Demo Day: Igniting InsurTech in Hartford and across Connecticut

In September 2017, Hartford InsurTech Hub was born with the objective of building an InsurTech innovation ecosystem in Hartford. Last month, on April 18th, the first part of the Hub, The Startupbootcamp’s InsurTech Accelerator, hosted its inaugural Demo Day.  

Ten InsurTech startups showcased how they’re changing insurance by sharing their unique business ventures with a room full of investors, insurers, mentors, and experts from within the insurance technology community.

The theme of the day was Ignite – demonstrating how Hartford is being transformed into the US capital of InsurTech by harnessing tech, rekindling insurers, and connecting the community. Hartford’s InsurTech ecosystem is strengthening, thanks to the collaboration between Hartford InsurTech Hub, its partners, and the local community. The City is establishing itself as a leader in the fast-paced disruption that is visible in the insurance industry.

As Demo Day guests began to arrive at The Bushnell Theatre in Hartford, the startups were warming up ready for their moments to pitch. 425 people, from across a variety of US locations including New York, Boston and Silicon Valley, filled the theatre, and over 400 viewers tuned in via livestream (the livestream received an additional 420 replays post-Demo Day). After a video introduction summarizing what had kept the startups busy over the past three months during the accelerator program, Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford, welcomed the Hartford delegates and explained the significance of Hartford InsurTech Hub and why it is so exciting for the City of Hartford.

We want Hartford to be the center of InsurTech innovation in this country and the world… You [the startups] have an incredible opportunity to be on the radar at the highest level of some of the best and biggest insurance companies in the entire world… This is a city that’s on the rise, but what’s really going to make the difference and change the game, and make sure that we continue to be a city that’s groundbreaking, that’s setting trends, that’s breaking barriers, is everybody who is in this room” – Mayor Luke Bronin.

The Mayor was followed by Sabine VanderLinden, CEO of Startupbootcamp InsurTech. Sabine once again welcomed everybody to Demo Day and introduced the 10 startups who were about to pitch. She shared the transformational journey that Startupbootcamp InsurTech had gone through to reach this point. It all started with a rigorous sourcing process that commenced when the Accelerator was launched back in September 2017. Startupbootcamp reached 92 countries during the scouting process, talked to thousands of startups, and received over 1000 applications from startups wanting to join its two international programs. In November, 23 startups were chosen to attend Selection Days, and shortly after, 10 startups were chosen to participate in the program.

See Sabine VanderLinden’s Demo Day speech here.

Erika Bothma, Program Director at The InsurTech Accelerator, took to the stage to highlight the role that the partners and mentors played in the program.

“Hartford is perfectly placed to create a really vibrant InsurTech ecosystem on the East Coast [of the U.S.]. It doesn’t exist anywhere else right now. This acceleration process is driven not just by us and the world-class experts that we bring into work with these young companies in the program, but also by our mentors, many of which I can see in the audience, and also our partners, so we want to thank them for that”Erika Bothma.

See Erika Bothma’s Demo Day speech here.

Erika gave a special mention to the startups’ commitment and remarkable determination to see the process through. The startups spent three months of hard work, drive, and persistence scaling up their businesses. They worked tirelessly to hone their value proposition, refine their insurance use cases, shape their sales and marketing strategies, and identify the best growth hacks for their businesses. The moment had arrived for the teams to combine all their learnings and present their stories to the world.

The significant moment then arrived for the first 5 startups to pitch: ViewSpection, Yaxa, Aureus Analytics, Ubios, and Boundlss. They showcased propositions that included customer engagement, digital health, smart home solutions, and cyber security.

After a short break, InsureTech Connect Co-Founders, Jay Weintraub and Caribou Honig, shared their observations on the InsurTech landscape, and spoke about how important it is for insurance companies to attract top young talent. 

Ultimately, insurance is a knowledge business. It’s an insights business. It’s a data business. It’s an innovation business, particularly now with the rise of InsurTech, and that pace is only becoming more important, and in turn making talent more and more important to the success story…the InsurTech movement is drawing talent into the insurance industry, and that is a great thing”  – Caribou Honig, Co-Founder, InsureTech Connect.

Another interesting point of view shared by Jay and Caribou relates to what insurers need to look for to build a long term and successful portfolio. They discussed the varying impact that B2B and B2C startups are having on the industry, and layed out which type of business is the greater catalyst for changing the industry. Caribou argued that B2C startups will have a greater impact because they are the companies that are given more freedom over their product and they can innovate more aggressively. Jay, however, argued that B2B startups will end up being the ultimate enables in the insurance industry:

How do we get the rest of the industry prepared to serve the customers what the customers want? It’s that B2B segment that I think has the greatest power to help the existing brands reach through this digital potential” – Jay Weintraub, Co-Founder, InsureTech Connect.

InsureTech Connect is the world’s largest gathering of insurance leaders and innovators, and this year’s event is taking place in Las Vegas on October 2-3. Several of our 2018 cohort startups will be in attendence as the City of Hartford and Connecticut intend to showcase its progress within the InsurTech space.

The remaining five startups: RozieAI, Truedime, Pentation Analytics, StaTwig, and SecureHome, then pitched to the audience. They demonstrated how they’re changing insurance through propositions that included supply chain management, customer intelligence, and cyber protection of the home.

This link will give you access to all the startups presentations and videos.

Out of the 10 startups graduating from the cohort, five startups have already secured pilots with leading insurance companies within the core sponsoring partners: Cigna, The Hartford, The Travelers Companies, Inc., Crawford & Company, USAA, and White Mountains. Some with more than one! A total of 21 pilots have been confirmed and seven of these are with Hartford InsurTech Hub’s partners. Three startups also announced that they’ll be opening up operations in Hartford as a result of the accelerator program. We know a few more are planning to do so.

Following the startup pitches, we heard from Nektarios Liolios, Founder of Startupbootcamp FinTech, and Michelle Cote, Managing Director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Connecticut. Michelle shared the origin story of Hartford InsurTech Hub with the audience. It all began with a series of meetings after the Connecticut State Legislature and CTNext issued the Innovation Places Program. The vision is to make the communities of Connecticut more visible and build vibrant hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship. The insurance ecosystem in Hartford was an obvious place to target with the initiative, and the Hartford InsurTech Hub concept was born.

“It has been amazing to see the spark that this program has ignited within the City of Hartford, take off in the last three months. There has truly been a buzz around this program, and an incredible level of participation and interaction amongst students, faculty, and insurance industry professionals. There’s a new appreciation for the opportunity that Hartford has, as a strong insurance hub, to change the face of the industry through leadership in InsurTech. We’re thrilled to be able to continue working with Startupbootcamp to strengthen and expand our city’s reputation as a leader in insurance innovation and technology” – Michelle Cote.

Now officially alumni of The InsurTech Accelerator, the 10 startups will focus their efforts on securing further pilots with corporates and finalizing fundraising rounds as well as partnership agreements, in addition to being invited to speak at various FinTech, InsurTech, and innovation conferences around the world. Several of our startups attended InsurTech Rising in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Global Insurance Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.

We would like to say thank you to all of our program partners – Cigna, The Hartford, Travelers, CTNext, USAA, White Mountains, Crawford & Company, Deloitte and Clyde & Co. – who attended Demo Day and made the program possible. We have received great feedback and know that the partners are thrilled to have worked with such talented startups that have helped their large companies stay at the forefront of insurance innovation. We also want to thank our global partners including Amazon Web Services, EOS Venture Partners, and Cisco, and our enablement partner, Hubspot, who relentlessly support the startup teams during the difficult planning times from business proposition to tech and investment.

“Demo Day was a great success and the event provided a terrific showcase for the ten startups that participated in our first Accelerator program. The event was very well attended by local corporate partners, startups, and investors – all the critical components of a vital Silicon Valley-type ecosystem. We look forward to continuing our engagement with startups through the accelerator, enabling us to stay on the leading edge of innovation in insurance” – Jill Frankle, AVP of Strategic Ventures at The Hartford.

Travelers highlighted the value The InsurTech Accelerator is having on the insurance industry in Hartford.

“Innovation is critical to remaining competitive and relevant, and the InsurTech Accelerator in Hartford is an exciting endeavor. It’s already infusing new ideas into our industry that we believe will, ultimately, benefit insurance consumers. Travelers has been partnering and experimenting with a number of startups in this process, and their high level of engagement and the potential to quickly develop concepts into viable products and services in such a short period of time is impressive and encouraging”Beth Maerz, Vice president of Customer Experience and Innovation for Personal Insurance at Travelers.

We hope that attendees of our first Demo Day got a sense of the how the future of insurance is being shaped here in Hartford. We are extremely proud of the progress that the 10 startups made during the three months in The InsurTech Accelerator, and they can be proud of the fact that they have been the inaugural cohort of a program that is driving real impactful change in a city that is revitalising itself to become a global center of InsurTech innovation.

Press coverage

The eventful day attracted press coverage from various publications, including Insurance Journal and The Hartford Courant:

Meet the startups

The Demo Day website has information on all the startups who pitched at Demo Day, as well as links to their presentation slides and pitch videos.

Aureus Analytics, from India, is a customer intelligence and experience company that enables insurance carriers, brokers, and MGAs to deliver superior customer experience, leading to greater retention, loyalty, and lifetime value. Aureus does this using predictive analytics and machine learning to deliver insights in simple English at the point of decision.
– Watch Aureus Analytics’ Demo Day pitch video.

Boundlss, from Australia, helps health & life insurers attract, reward & retain healthy members, and understand & improve member health. Boundlss AI health assistant & conversational platform helps insurers deliver highly engaging, scalable preventative health, sales & claims conversations
– Watch Boundlss’ Demo Day pitch video.

Pentation Analytics, from India, is a Big Data Analytics company that enables insurers and intermediaries to better engage with policyholders. Pentation’s Insurance Analytics Suite provides predictive intelligence and process automation tools addressing the core insurance use-cases of increasing retention, cross-sales and optimizing claims.
– Watch Pentation Analytics’ Demo Day pitch video.

RozieAI, from the United States, offers an AI platform to design personalized customer engagement and robust business intelligence solutions for enterprises. The emphasis on design and operations facilitates time to value, enabling RozieAI to deliver technology that is easy to adopt and integrate into existing processes. RozieAI takes a partnership engagement approach with clients to build a joint vision, to continually optimize business operations and deliver aggregate intelligence.
– Watch RozieAI’s Demo Day pitch video.

SecureHome, from the United States, is a smart home IoT solution that provides critical security needed for every smart home. SecureHome’s technology provides protection against cyber criminals attacking smart homes and small offices. With SecureHome, insurers can launch new personal lines of business for cyber protection, proactively manage their payout risks for property and casualty policies, and collect key smart home data while delivering value to consumers very early in the customer acquisition cycle.
– Watch SecureHome’s Demo Day pitch video.

StaTwig, from Singapore, employs blockchain and IoT technology to provide real-time, tamper-proof, end-to-end tracking that identifies problems and inefficiencies in any supply chain.
– Watch StaTwig’s Demo Day pitch video.

Truedime, from the United States, provides self-employed individuals – including freelancers, sole proprietorships and small business owners – with a benefits platform that meets their unique needs.
– Watch Truedime’s Demo Day pitch video.

Ubios, from Canada, helps residential multi-tenant buildings prevent water leaks & lower their energy costs. Ubios’ solution integrates IoT with AI to automate a building’s water security and energy usage.
– Watch Ubios’ Demo Day pitch video.

ViewSpection, from the United States, is an app and web platform that enables a policyholder to do their own property inspection, and that delivers a detailed, interior property survey to an Agent or Carrier within days, compared to weeks with the traditional loss control inspection model. Beyond delivering a faster, more cost effective inspection report, ViewSpection creates a deeper connection between the carrier, agent and the policyholder, involving them in the process and removing friction.
– Watch ViewSpection’s Demo Day pitch video.

Yaxa, from the United States, provides a real-time risk monitoring and threat remediation platform for enterprises seeking to actively detect and block malicious behavior. Yaxa provides protection against user behavior driven threats – understanding the individual user’s normal data access patterns (file activities, login time, database, ssh, web apps etc.) and taking automatic action when users deviate from past patterns. Yaxa follows the concept – “trust but verify”.
– Watch Yaxa’s Demo Day pitch video.