By Doug Grant, Partner, Insurance-Canada.ca
Toronto, ON (Nov. 13, 2017) — One of the most exciting sessions at InsurTechTO was the pitch competition. Six emerging startups showcased their ideas for a technology-enabled solution for the insurance industry to five expert judges before an audience of more than 200. Each startup had three minutes to sell their product, followed by five minutes of questions from the judges.
The contenders in the pitch competition were:
- Ron Glozman, CEO of Knote, based in Toronto. Founded in 2016, Knote is a machine learning company in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) area. Its technology enables companies to extract, redact and compare information in documents at high speeds with low error rates. The primary vertical is commercial insurance, where it offers an application that enables brokers and carriers to save time, labor costs and reduce the many dollars lost annually to human errors and omissions.
- Venky Weylagro, VP of Sales and Marketing from Eddy Home, based in Toronto. Founded in 2014, Eddy Home claims to revolutionize home protection through their suite of intelligent water monitoring solutions. Eddy Home offers homeowners a market leading system designed primarily to prevent and mitigate water damage – the number one property damage risk.
- Nigel Liao, Founder of Acadshield, which is based in Waterloo and was our only business still in prototype phase. Acadshield is a new academic insurance product that reimburses students for their failed or dropped courses in university. Each course in university costs a few thousand dollars, and student debt has been rising over the years globally. Risk of failure exists for even the brightest students, and Acadshield claims this is an untapped market for insurance.
- Art Harrison, Co-Founder and VP of Business Development at FormHero, Inc., based in Toronto. FormHero was founded in 2015, and they claim their Smart Forms fundamentally changes how organizations gather and process data. For insurance companies, FormHero helps transform processes like total loss, proof-of-loss and other forms from long, error-prone processes into great customer experiences that are completed in a fraction of the typical time. Think of it like tax-software; for any custom, outdated or paper-based process.
- Tom Smith, Founder of Senteri, came all the way from Arizona. Senteri was founded in 2014 and provides smart-home solutions including wireless sensor monitoring systems and associated software. Their products are designed to benefit property owners, residents and insurance companies by providing remote access to real-time, vital information about environmental and other conditions both inside and outside of residential and commercial properties.
- John Trozzo, Managing Partner, and Patrick McDonnell, Project Manager, from BiiCanada. Founded in 2012 and based in Pickering, BiiCanada is a loss prevention and risk management company serving the P&C insurance market. BiiCanada is developing an application that engages policyholders using SMS. They claim that the tool dramatically improves efficiency, and radically reduce costs, and has purpose across all aspects of insurance: sales, marketing, underwriting, claims, adjusting and loss prevention.
To adjudicate, we had a panel of judges who are expert in the fields of startup development, digital innovation, and consumer experience. The judging panel consisted of:
- Dave Kruis, Director at FairVentures;
- Craig Haney, Head of Corporate Innovation at Communitech;
- Kelly Emery, Head of Digital at Kanetix;
- Shane Fynn, Startup Services Lead at Ryerson DMZ; and
- Tahsim Ahmed, Venture Studio Analyst at TribalScale.
The judges were tough but fair as they probed into the products, operations, and clientele of each startup in order to come to a decision based on the combination of the business idea and the pitch.
When Insurance-Canada.ca tallied the judges’ scorecards, the winner was Art Harrison from FormHero, whose succinct and engaging pitch received the highest score. The prize for FormHero is free admission and an exhibitor booth at the 16th annual Insurance-Canada Technology Conference, February 27-28, 2018 — a prize valued at more than $4,000!
We thank the judges for bringing their experience and discernment to the competition, as well as the presenters for submitting their innovative ideas and participating in our inaugurual InsurTechTO Pitch Competition!
With a focus on the intersection of insurance and technology, Insurance-Canada.ca helps clarify the potential that technology brings to the business of insurance. For more information, visit www.insurance-canada.ca.