Wooden ducks, Vegas and an Insurtech 100 update

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It’s time for another Sø.Nws, your fortnightly glimpse into the ever-changing world of Insurtech, corporate innovation and my rapidly forming view of how the Chinese are about to take over the tech world.  
 
And whilst I’ve literally just got off a video call with ZhongAn, I’m going to start with LEGO. Who doesn’t love LEGO right?
 
Set up in 1932 by master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristianses, LEGO’s first employee was Godtfred, Ole’s son, who started working in the business age 12. Roll forward a couple of years and they’re a team of 6, successfully making…wooden ducks.

In 1946, post war, they bought a plastic injection-moulding machine and spent a few years making plastic fish and sailors, before hitting on ‘Automatic Binding Bricks’, the forerunner for today’s bricks we know and love.

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with LEGO for a number of years and have massive respect for their innovation (more the recent stuff although I’m sure their ducks were also very good). Someone I never got a chance to meet was Christian Majgaard – formerly one of their top guys responsible for branding, marketing and business innovation.
 
Christian was the keynote at Insurance 2025 earlier in the week and talked about the golden and not so golden years. In 2003, global sales were down 30% year-on-year and the business had accrued $800m in debt. Although they had a tough 2017, LEGO are now sitting at around 17,500 staff and on track for 2018 revenues of €5bn.
 
Three of my favourite quotes, and he was aligning these to the insurers in the room:
 
“This is not the end of the world…but you can see it from here”
 
“Get out the office, close the door behind you and get involved in your future”
 
“Organise by destination, not departure. Get people on board who have been there and done it before”


Insurtech 100 Quarterly Update
Those who have been paying attention will know that earlier this year we published the Insurtech 100 and each quarter have been providing an update to the activity across the index. Well, it’s that time again.
 

For those who haven’t seen the list, you can access it on the Insurance Post website (the most popular content no less) or just give me a shout and I’ll fire you over the details.
 
Key insights from the past 3 months:

1. Big money still pouring in – close to $900m invested across 14 deals, including $100m into 3-year-old Root Insurance who commanded a $1bn valuation.

2. Global ambitions – 7 startups announced their intention to step into new markets. If you’re not already, maybe time to keep an eye on global activity?

3. Collaborations = efficient innovation – we witnessed another step up on the partnership front: 8 of the startups announced partnerships with incumbents (including a mix of brokers, insurers and re-insurers). 
 
Keep an eye out on the in-depth write up – it should hit the online shelves next week or so.
 
Also, what Sø.Nws would be complete without a plug for Tällt? If you want to better understand the changing marketplace and how to create meaningful innovation, get in touch. We work with insurance companies around the world providing insight into the trends, all the ins and outs on the competitor’s playbook and help identify opportunities for future growth. Sounds pretty good to me.


Listen: Building a trust network
Keeping with the Danish theme, Diccon caught up with Sara Green Brodersen from Deemly. A brilliant interview, which, sadly for Diccon it didn’t involve a trip to Copenhagen.

As a graduate of Startupbootcamp's accelerator, Deemly have built a solution which lets individuals leverage their existing accounts and reviews from platforms like AirBnB and eBay. In turn they create a ‘trust profile’ that businesses, customers and other individuals can rely on.
 
As part of the Future Disruptors podcast series, Sara chats about her business, their journey with Startupbootcamp and the role ‘trust’ plays in insurance, especially as more and more explore the opportunities within the billion-user sharing economy.
 
Have a listen. It’s a seriously good one.
 
 
Read: Pineapples, Bought By Many
In our latest set of Spøtlights, we dive into the much debated and challenged trend of P2P insurance, chatting with Matthew Elan Smith of Pineapple and Steven Mendel of Brought By Many.

After Guevara closed their operations last year, having failed to develop a solid underwriting vehicle, it's fascinating to talk to these guys to understand the direction they're taking and the opportunity in front of them.  
 
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In other news drop me a line if you’re heading to the Insurance Times Tech & Innovation awards in London on Thursday evening. We’re sponsoring the Accelerator/Fund of the Year and looking forward to presenting an award to one of the shortlisted Startupbootcamp, EOS Venture Partners, Insurtech Gateway, Kamet and Aviva Ventures.
 
I’m also over in Vegas for InsureTech Connect later in the month. Again, let me know if you’re about and fancy a coffee/beer. Be great to say hello in person.
 
I’ll have to fill you in on the ZhongAn chats next time.
 
For now, have a great weekend.
 
Matt




MATT CONNOLLY
Founder & CEO 
+44 7788 711 104 
www.tallt.ventures

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