Our team has just returned from InsureTech Connect.
Whoa. What a week. For us, it was an incredible event and very much worth the trip. The content was very solid, and the networking proved to be a tremendous boost to the work we do for our clients. This post will bounce around a bit, as we covered a lot of ground over the five days we spent in Las Vegas. Read on!
It all began for us on Monday with the Strategic Partnership Workshop. Anyone who’s ever put on an event like this knows that very little goes completely as planned – such was the case for us on Monday. While it was a little hard for folks to find us, and then tough to hear us (AV issues), we persevered. And, we were thrilled to have a very engaged audience representing the full spectrum of thought leaders from throughout the insurtech ecosystem. Our speakers did a wonderful job going with the flow and sharing very meaningful insights. I’ve provided a quick review of each session, below:
Our first session was meant to feature Marc Buro from InsuraMatch and Abby Reddy from Quotacy. Well, one out of two ain’t bad – Marc came down with pneumonia and was unable to join us. Instead, Abby was joined by her partner, Jeremy Hallett, and Michael Babikian from Legacy Shield. They absolutely rocked. This discussion covered the importance of strategic partnerships when bringing an innovative and disruptive product to market. While we missed Marc, we were very lucky to have such a flexible group to kick us off.
Next, Daniel Weaver from Updater’s insurance group and Chad Lovell from Cross Country Home Services led a very informative session on the power of leveraging insurance-adjacent partnerships. This was a unique discussion in that it covered both ends of the unit economic equation for insurance marketers – Daniel talked about customer acquisition and Chad covered retention and claims mitigation. Great content from great folks!
We shifted our focus in the second half of the workshop to talk about how partnership-first firms fare in the market from an enterprise value perspective. We featured the stories of two recent acquisitions, with Brian Ocheltree from LeadCloud and Hal Schwartz from Quilt providing a firsthand account of their experience being acquired by larger enterprises. Brian spoke about the acquisition of his firm by National General Insurance Group and Hal told the story of being acquired by Mass Mutual’s Haven Life. For many in the audience, this was a powerfully relevant session – I credit each of these speakers for being extremely open about the process of building a business valuable enough to be acquired by major enterprises. It was a great discussion!
We then gained a different perspective on the investment and M/A process – this time from folks representing the capital side of that ecosystem. Ashish Dudani from Kiwi Tech and Grace Vandecruze from Grace Global Capital did an incredible job sharing their insights on how insurtech ventures can prepare themselves for capital investment and even acquisition. This discussion took an unexpected turn toward another important topic (and one that I couldn’t be more pleased to have discussed): diversity. Grace discussed the importance of having diverse backgrounds and thought perspectives at the board level, while Ashish spoke to this impact on the contributing team. The message, in each case, is very important.
Finally, we were fortunate to have a number of students present from Gamma Iota Sigma, the nation’s largest fraternal organization for the study of insurance-related curriculum in colleges and universities. GIS’s CEO, Noelle Codispoti, spoke about the organization and its mission. She even took a selfie!
With the workshop done, we shifted our focus to the show itself. For this event, we took a divide and conquer approach. While Brett and Anna carried the burden of a jam-packed schedule filled with partner meetings and introductory discussions, I focused on holding fewer meetings with principals of businesses we’ve been evaluating for partnerships with our clients. This proved useful for me – I learned a ton and was able to identify clear next steps on a number of key initiatives. Without the team being on hand to handle a massive number of earlier-stage discussions, I wouldn’t have been able to focus my own discussions in this way. I expect we’ll do more of this in the future.
It wasn’t all business. On Wednesday night we joined the 6,000 or so other attendees for the Salt and Peppa concert! We were all exhausted from four days of working in Vegas, but there was no way I was missing this. It was PACKED. The music was great. The people watching, though, was epic. I’ve never seen so many khaki pants (many pleated!) at a concert – and these people were absolutely jamming. It can’t be easy to get a few thousand insurance professionals to dance for two hours. Salt, Peppa and DJ Spindarella each have my admiration – they looked great and sounded even better!
Thursday was a travel day, but not before we held a client kickoff meeting that morning. I was impressed by the advances that Brett and Anna have made to this process, and really pleased to have completed the week with a kickoff. After this meeting, we made our way home – Anna to Santa Barbara and Brett and I back to Phoenix.
I’ll end with a note of thanks to the folks who lead InsureTech Connect. Jay Weintraub, Caribou Honig, Samarra Jaffe and the rest of the team did such a great job with this event. I’m so thankful to have been there and thrilled with the quality of the meetings we held. I can’t speak highly enough about InsureTech Connect and can’t wait to be there next year.