To give a short personal impression: let us know what are your top 3 books everyone today needs to read and top 3 tech gadgets one needs to have?
Assuming most of your readers are part of the broader InsurTech ecosystem, the following two books come to mind:
- “The Inevitable” by Kevin Kelly: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
- “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Another favorite (which at first glance may be totally unrelated to the other two books, but complements them very well):
Regarding gadgets, I actually get more excited by the software that runs on them :)
What is your take on the state of the insurance industry? What trends and topics do you see and which ones are overlooked right now?
As a venture investor, I am more interested in long-term developments, as opposed to trends. We need to be able to see 5 to 10 years ahead. The long-term game will be driven by insurers’ ability to cooperate in the right way with the right partners in the tech ecosystem.
By 2030, there will be 100 trillion sensors installed globally - in cars, buildings, all kinds of devices and possibly in humans as well. If we find a way to use the data generated by these sensors for predictive analysis, this development will replace insurance as we know it today.
There will be winners and losers in this scenario. The winners among incumbents will be the ones who complement their strength in long-term risk management by building their ecosystem of partners. This will enable them to shift their value proposition to risk prevention, while integrating into new distribution channels.
You and CommerzVentures are going to attend the Global Insurtech Roadshow in Frankfurt. What are you excited about and what did you decide to contribute to it?
We are always looking out for up-and-coming new insurtechs. We like to build relationships with exceptional founders long before we invest. Therefore we very much look forward to meet as many promising founders as possible at Global Insurtech Roadshow.
Do you have Do’s and Don’ts for entrepreneurs that pitch their company in front of you hoping for investments?
We have recently seen a trend of less founders using a slide deck when pitching us for the first time. However, structuring the discussion along a set of well laid-out slides generally works in favor of the entrepreneur. You are able to frame your story right from the start, and ensure you can make all the important points you planned to make during the discussion. If the pitch meeting becomes “purely conversational” too early, the discussion may move into a direction that you did not intend to. Bill Gurley has written a very insightful blog post on this topic, which is well worth a read.
What was the most surprising and exciting pitch you ever heard and why did it blow you away?
A great pitch is certainly important, but what gets me even more excited are founders who back up their pitch with strong commercial traction and enthusiastic customers or users. As investors we look for start-ups with the potential for sustained triple-digit growth. The best way to visualize this potential is through a company’s ability to monetize its product early on, and to generate strong loyalty and even “evangelism” with its customers.
What would you advice founders of insurtech start-ups right now?
Be prepared that it is going to be a long journey. Building a truly valuable company always takes time, and even more so in insurance. Probably the biggest driver of your success will be your own perseverance, along with choosing the right companions for the journey, in terms of co-founders, partners and investors.
Thank you Paul!
Paul Morgenthaler is a FinTech and InsurTech investor with CommerzVentures, the VC fund of Germany’s Commerzbank. He joined CommerzVentures after a successful career as a FinTech entrepreneur and consultant for banks and insurers.
In his previous role as Chief Scientific Officer for Finanztip, he provided online financial advisory to more than two million consumers every month. Earlier in his career, he co-founded and successfully exited a Fintech start-up in the credit rating space (PSR Rating). He also advised banks in setting up greenfield operations with The Boston Consulting Group.
Dr. Robin Kiera