Time to look beyond insurance

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European startup activity

Last week I took a new approach with Sø.Nws – less chat, more facts. The result? Most new subscribers ever. I’ll try not to take it personally.

That said, here’s some chat.

I’m part of the advisory board for Insurance Times’ big event of the year, Insurance2025. We met up last week. A few interesting takeaways:

  1. We have to move beyond Insurtech. Exploring and understanding innovation across other industries is key.
  2. The corporate + startup partnerships train is slowing down. Whilst there have been some great successes, there are plenty that haven’t worked out. There’s a stack of reasons why (poor sourcing, governance, PoC process management etc) but more interesting is how this shifts the rhetoric to a change of tac.
    Personally, I believe there’s still plenty of mileage in bringing the right parties together and we’ll see a stack more successes in 2019.
  3. There was a real debate about whether we should still be talking about IoT, chatbots, AI, on-demand etc as future trends or push past these to really explore what is is we’ll be seeing by 2025. The truth is a bit of both. You’ve got an industry that’s doing its best to play catch up – and doing so pretty slowly – coupled with a room full of people that has been living and breathing Insurtech for way too long.

And to balance our media relations, we’ve also been working on this year’s Insurtech100. Thanks to all who have submitted companies you’d like us to include; who knew how far and wide my fortnightly ramblings were read?

­With the full list (and more) being published April/May time, one of our conditions of working together again was to take control of the logo design. Thoughts?

European startup activity

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Right, here’s the more fact bit – a selection of Sønr updates from the past couple of weeks:

Has anyone else been reading the ‘investment market drying up’ articles recently? Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a glut of European startup investment activity, so much so, I’ve stripped this back to European startup activity. Sorry rest of the world.

Tink – one of my open banking favourites, Tink who are Stockholm HQ’d ­have secured €56m from Insight Venture Partners. If you don’t know these guys, you should. What they’re doing will affect your business in one way or another sometime soon.

GetJenny – keeping with the Scandi theme, the Finish AI platform GetJenny has raised €2m seed funding to push further across the Nordics and into the Middle East and North Africa. Their value proposition: they can go live in a matter of weeks, taking up to 50% of the questions out of the customer service agents overnight. And within a couple of months, they are able to reach 80% automation. And it’s all super easy to deploy and train. If you’re wanting to reduce your call centre overhead, definitely one to consider.

European startup activity

WhenFresh – an interesting one in light of talking about considering ‘outside of insurance’ businesses. WhenFresh who are a Data-as-a-Service team have just raised a £3m Series A with the intent of stepping into the insurance industry. Currently playing in financial services, utilities and property they help clients identify key events for their customers, giving insights into future purchasing decisions. Check out their new insurance specific product lines.

bsurance – I’ve been talking about these guys for a while now and good to see they’ve secured a €4m Series A to expand from Austria into ‘broader Europe’. I haven’t dared ask if that still includes the UK.

Grab & ZhongAn – there’s so much good stuff in this article. Just have a read. Loving Grab’s play to become the WeChat (think all your apps in one super app) of Southeast Asia. I’m in Shanghai with ZhongAn in a couple of weeks and can’t wait to learn more about this.

Swiss Re & OZON – if you’ve got a business of 10–250 employees, this one’s for you. Available from 6th Feb, starting the roll out in France, CyberSolution 360° is a comprehensive, risk management solution that brings together all the buzzwords needed to make you feel warm and protected.

Aetna & Apple Watch – there’s something about this partnership that I particularly like. Attain is the customer facing brand positioned to encourage a healthy living habit. What’s particularly interesting is the broader context to Aetna: towards the end of 2018 they merged with CVS, the huge pharmacy business and as part of Attain’s offering, not only will it track physical activity but also send health reminders about things like refilling prescriptions or getting a flu shots. Interestingly, they’ve stated that the data collected won’t be used to make decisions about the insurance premiums.

European startup activity

Something we’re working with a number of clients on, and certainly a trend that’s witnessing comeback, is insurers partnering with external innovation consultancies to help innovate.

Aon & Claim Central – based out of Jacksonville, Florida, the two companies have come together to set up an Innovation Centre focussed on claims.

Vienna Insurance Group & European startup activity 300 – the two have come together to launch Viesure, a new innovation centre. Again the proposition isn’t radical; the aim is to make digital interactions with customers easier, faster and more transparent.

As with all these things, it’s about the talent you bring on board and how it’s executed.

New product launches:
Harry, Bert and Lenny – AXA’s 3 new AI chatbots are now all up and running, targeted to save 18,000 hours of repetitive work each year. A fourth – an Italian sounding, slightly better dressed, louder and most likely still living with its mother, chatbot called Como is soon to be launched.

MyLifeScore360 – this one soaked up a load of press this week.  MassMutual, through their LifeScoreLabs, has developed a set of questions to help people better understand how their risk profile may impact their life insurance risk. A nice little acquisition tool.

Mobly – Belgium based European startup activity launches pay-per-kilometre car insurance. Don’t get me wrong, I think these guys have a good business. I mainly like them because of their unusual approach to imagery.

European startup activity

Finally, a couple of new ventures spun out of corporate land:
Coverly – SME insurance from Bibby Financial Services is now live.

Homebrella – launched by Admiral Group, this a new French home insurance business designed to make renters’ lives easier.

Both of these are doing their best to bridge the big business/European startup activity divide – simple CX, clean design and a nod towards brand personality.

Well, there you go. A beast of a Sø.Nws. Hope you’ve got something from it.

If you liked it, share it with your colleagues and get them signed up. Also, for the love of God, you really should check out just what brilliant stuff we’re up to at Tällt. And if you’re not already, you should be signed up to Sønr. As should ALL your colleagues.

Before I go, one last bit of chat.

This week we caught up with Hadi Radwan, Aqeed’s Chief Product Officer out in Dubai. And, because we’re nice guys, we wrote it up for you. If you haven’t yet come across them, they design digital solutions to help consumers understand, manage, and buy insurance. In April 2018, they officially launched following an $18m funding round.

That’s it. You can stop reading now. Have a great weekend.


Founder & CEO
+44 7788 711 104

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