Startupbootcamp prepares for the first InsuranceTech cohort in London

By Rick Huckstep


In just 5 years, from its origins in Copenhagen, Startupbootcamp has grown to be Europe’s largest startup accelerator and one of the top 3 globally. They now run 11 accelerator programs and are preparing to start the first Insurance specific cohort in January. SBC is led by Nektarios Liolios who was described in a blog last week as the Ant & Dec of Fintech celebrities!

I’ve signed up as a mentor to the program and last Friday, I attended a Fast Track day at the Rainmaker Loft at St Katherine’s Dock.

The purpose of these early stage events is to pre-screen insurance start-ups before the final selection is made in November. It’s a bit like the audition stage of the X-Factor and this is about selecting the founders as much as selecting the business idea that the founder has pitched.

SBC drive a tough and rigorous program that literally accelerates a startup’s first 18 months worth of activity into just 3! It’s not for the faint hearted which is why the character of the founding team is as important as the business idea of the startup.

I was joined by a dozen or so mentors from the insurance industry and to start, the 8 insurance start-ups all gave a five-minute pitch to explain their business. The “investor pitch” is always a tough gig for startups as they condense their business idea, their market, the problem they’re solving, their competition, what they’ve done so far, what they want to do next and what you want out of the program.

I’ve worked with many professional and skilled sales people that would struggle to deliver a pitch with this much content in half an hour, let alone 5 minutes!

This was then followed by 15-minute sessions with each of the insurance startups. The way this works is that the mentors form themselves into small groups of 2 or 3 and in rotation, each startup has a 1on1 with each small group.

The great thing for me about days like this is that you get to see where the real early stage activity is happening in the world of insurance tech.

I won’t name the businesses who presented at this event because this is still the selection process and some are at the concept and design stage, i.e., very early startups, but they included;

– an intermediary business aimed at providing travel insurance for the disabled and health-impaired markets. It is estimated that over 30% of European travellers have a pre-existing condition that limits their ability to get adequate cover when travelling abroad. The size of this market is huge affecting over 150 million people in Europe, estimated to be worth €2.5bn.

– a SaaS offering for SME’s that provides an automated risk management platform. With 99% of all businesses being defined as SME in the UK, this offering provides an automated platform to help these firms better identify and then quantify the risks in their business. It then offers mitigation strategies and provides a collaboration tool for managers to mitigation a strategies amongst the workforce.

– a wearables data aggregator to serve the health insurance market. The issue for insurance today is that premiums are set based on a point in time process. Ongoing changes to lifestyle and behavior are not captured and used to adjust premiums and policy terms. This market is hot and I’ve written previously about Oscar and Vitality.

– an online marketplace to connect western insurers and sources of capital to the massive demand for micro insurance in the third world. There is very little penetration of insurance in these mass markets and the under insured rates are as low as 5% in many African countries. The problem is that Western insurance companies simply don’t understand how to distribute and provide cover in these markets. I covered this subject when I interviewed MicroEnsure back in July.

– a digital document platform that turns static, flat policy documents into interactive ones. Market research highlights consumers find policy documents irrelevant, confusing, jargony (I just made that word up), impersonal and unhelpful. However, insurers err on the side of regulatory caution when communicating with consumers and the end result is not consumer friendly!

– a digital unit of value exchange where units (which are conveniently called “coins” in this start-up) are earned through fitness behavior, such as running and exercising. These coins are then traded for goods or services from partner organizations. For insurance, this presents an alternative approach to wearables. For consumers, it would enable them to trade their behavior between insurers and create the equivalent of a credit score for insurance.

– a risk assessment platform for commercial insurance. The tech platform enables brokers and underwriters to achieve a detailed assessment of an insurance risk with the goal of 100% coverage when assessing it. Insurers often base their cover on as little as 10-15% of the risk presented to them. For example, a mobile phone company wants to insure all of its masts. The underwriter will count the masts without taking into account how many are on a hill (subject to lighting strikes) or in a valley (subject to flooding). A mast is a mast!

– a social insurance platform for protection insurance. The model works on the network effect and rewards policyholders with money back rewards if the people they introduce to the network do not make a claim. This anti-moral hazard concept assumes that fewer (fraudulent) claims are made if you know that a friend or family will lose out. The example often stated is that more Rolex’s have been claimed as stolen in the UK than ever sold!

The selection process for the Insurance cohort is still open to start-ups and the closing date for applications is the 31st October. This successful 10 finalists will be selected in November and start the 3 month program on January 10th, all culminating in the first insurance specific demo day ever held in London on April 14th.

One not to be missed!

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