I had the honor of participating at EXECinsurtech’s 2017 conference in the historic city of Cologne, Germany. EXECisurtech is a series of conferences connecting our ever-growing Insurtech community. It focusses on promoting innovative ideas and facilitating relationships between the players in the game. I was lucky to be appointed startup judge, as well as moderate the panel on Blockchain in the insurance industry. It was great fun, and I was very impressed by the energy, inspiration, and ingenuity of the conference.
Great entrepreneurs on the stage – Start-Up Judge
As a juror of start-ups in the seed stage, it was my task to analyze pitches from five promising startups. I was happy to have amazing co-jurors like Florian Graillot, Kim Tran, and Carl-Luis Rieger. I was glad to see that several hundred-people attended this portion of the event. For me it’s a sign that the attendees are interested, and that these bold entrepreneurs are gaining the respect and attention they deserve. Together, we evaluated Taploy (represented by Janthana Kaenprakhamroy), Medicus, Zeeno, Penseo, and Friendly. It was very inspiring for me as a judge to see such highly-quality startups onstage, and headed by such ambitious, motivated entrepreneurs (I hope my questions for them were not too mean!). The whole experience was quite humbling. The combination of a large audience and star judges together was really great to see.
he future is now: Blockchain in the insurance industry
Next, I moderated a panel on blockchain with renown expert such as Nina Siedler of DWF, Dorota Zminoch of The Heart, and Stephan Karpischek of Etherisc. Stephan is an expert and entrepreneur on blockchain in Germany. Dorota is a Fintech/Insurtech Program Leader for The Heart Warsaw (with strong ties to the UK) and Nina is a renown lawyer focusing on legal perspective of cutting edge tech.
In the beginning of the panel we talked about the definition of blockchain, then headed into the endless opportunities of the technology. Stephan brought up a particularly striking example. He illustrated the possibility that hubs such as Silicon Valley might soon not have a competitive advantage – for example as a location with a concentration of VCs – as technology enables decentralized funding independently of physical locations. Later, the panel underlined how important – especially due to some negative ICO examples – to conduct a thorough good old due diligence and to met the team before making an investment decision.
All in all, this was a great discussion – though we got so much into the conversation that we didn’t even have time for audience questions!
Exciting speakers at the Execinsurtech
Other talks included Jeff Dachis, speaking on Digital Health, Florian Graillot on the importance of investing in tech startups, and Claudia Lang on medical underwriting and digital sales. We also heard about Wefox from Julian Teicke, automation and AI from Steve Emecz, the blockchain from Vince Meens.
Numerous panels were run focusing on full-stack insurtechs (featuring Dominik Groenen of Flypper, Richard Hector of Element, Max Bachem of COYA, moderated by the inspiring Moritz Finkelnburg of Goethe Business School), corporate entrepreneurship (featuring Oliver Oster of Optiopay, Max Steinmetz of ZEB, and Stefan Mader of AXA), and pushing the insurance business (featuring Christian Czempiel-Mentrak of Liberty Specialty Markets) (also cannot forget those from IBM Watson and MotionsCloud).
State of the industry
There was additionally quite a bit of talk about Amazon entering the insurance market in London, something to keep tabs on later. Overall, it was great to meet the who’s-who of the Germany Insurtech scene. Though I did notice a lack of representatives from corporate, considering that there are over 600 insurers in Germany and this was one of the most important insurance conferences in the country. Here’s hoping that next year’s will bring a better turnout in this segment.
Based on the awesome amount of talent and innovation that the conference brought this year, I’d say that the ecosystem for German Insurtech is strong: Right now, we see a second wave of Insurtechs coming in, full digital insurers.
One note at the end: In Germany, as a European market with 200 billion Euros revenue a year, in my opinion Insurtech companies are not, in fact competitors, but side-by-side participants aiming at market share held by – in large parts – unprepared and overwhelmed incumbents.
I owe a huge thanks to Robbie Bouschery, who manage to organize the event, and Nia Escobar, who was the good soul behind the scenes for me. They created a vibrant atmosphere, which included a high-quality guest list of speakers, startups, corporates, and investors. I felt very privileged to be there and had a lot of fun.
Pictures with the friendly approval by Felix Mayr (felixmayr.de) and Robbie Bouschery.