The keyword “Accelerator” is usually associated with an idea about financial support and revision of business models. The W1 Forward Accelerator Programme, initiated by the InsurTech Hub Munich at WERK1, shows that a programm to promote innovative start-ups can work in a different way. In the eight-week, early-stage programm, the creators focus primarily on well-founded, targeted advice on start-ups and intensive use of the industry network.
THE INSURTECH HUB – A POOL OF POSSIBILITIES FOR STARTUPS & INSURERS
“The InsurTech Hub is a platform that brings the different players in the industry together,” explains Ben Shaw, Director Program & Strategy. Fourteen large insurers, large corporations, business and strategy consultants and universities such as the LMU or the Bundeswehrhochschule are part of the network. “The idea is that all these institutions have an interest in driving innovation together in the insurance context. And one part of driving this innovation forward is the Accelerator Program, which brings the various insurance companies into direct contact with small, innovative projects and start-ups.
PROGRAM USP & BENEFITS FOR THE STARTUPS
We want to know from Ben which startups the program is aimed at, as we meet him for the interview on the program running since mid-May in the WERK1 Café. In some cases the business idea is there, it hasn’t been founded yet – just early. “What’s important is that we not only select the start-ups according to the idea, but also according to whether we have the feeling that they can put it into practice. The selection event resulted in ten young companies. Only two of them have already received funding. “Over a period of eight weeks we will give them all the resources they need to build up and expand their business – i.e. consulting in business modelling, financial modelling, marketing & sales, etc.”, says Ben about the USP of the Accelerator programm. “And we bring them into contact with 14 major insurance companies, which give them direct enterprise feedback or rather insurance-relevant feedback. This is extremely valuable and priceless.”
PROGRAM FINALE: DEMO DAY
At the end of the eight weeks – this is the aim of the efforts to meet the big players from the insurance industry on a regular basis – the young companies will have pilot projects in the pipeline resulting from the program and the contacts made. For the finale, the Demo Day with around 400 guests, modelled on the American one, is waiting for everyone. “This event gives the startups the opportunity to present themselves to potential investors and tell their story. Why can my startup change the industry? They have four minutes for that.”
BUSINESS IDEAS THAT INSURERS & INSURED BENEFIT FROM
And the young companies want to change a lot! Seven B2B start-ups are involved. Among them, for example, is a company that develops software to support rehabilitation after illnesses and injuries. “This is interesting for private health insurers who want to make sure that the costs do not increase immeasurably due to incorrectly implemented physiotherapy,” explains Ben Shaw. “In addition, such an offer is also in the interest of the insured, because there is direct feedback as to whether the exercises were carried out correctly. Another example is a smoking cessation app developed by a team of experts with years of experience in the health sector. Three B2C start-ups are also taking part in the programme. “Our most international team comes from Thailand and deals with on-demand insurance. This keeps costs much lower and makes processing extremely easy and customer-friendly,” reports Ben. Other teams come from Austria, San Francisco or Barcelona.
INNOVATION POTENTIAL IN THE INSURANCE MARKET
The innovation potential in the insurance industry is huge, and the demand for young, rethinking companies is high, Ben explains the background to the Accelerator Program. “About two years ago, insurers had the aha moment. That’s when the industry became aware that we simply weren’t so technologically advanced in the financial services sector. And that so much more could be done with digital banks. Information about individuals who reflect their personal risk is now much easier to implement through data mining and data science,” Ben explains. Thanks to fast and precise data processing, insurance companies are now in an extremely good position to digitize themselves. And this is exactly where the Insurtech Hub with the Accelerator program comes in. Ben: “This digitization is incredibly difficult and the big insurers solve it through partnerships with external experts, our start-ups.
TIP FROM THE INDUSTRY EXPERT
Who really makes it in the end? According to Ben, that doesn’t just depend on whether you participate in the program. But above all whether the founders can implement the varied feedback they receive during the eight weeks. “A successful founder is always a Hustler, someone who constantly pushes his business forward. Even if the core idea changes – and it always does anyway – it is important to stay on it, with willpower and flexibility. Then you reach your goal.” And that certainly doesn’t just apply to the insurance industry.