Insurtech Israel’s acceleration program is fueled by Insurtech Israel and Brokertech Ventures, which is regarded as one of the world’s leading acceleration programs and launched to fulfill a very important need in the Israeli insurtech ecosystem. The program startup graduates raised over 70 million dollars in the past year and signed more than 20 work contracts with new customers.
The Israeli Insurtech Accelerator, operates from Tel Aviv, which is rightly regarded as one of the capitals of the world insurtech industry. From here grew, very successfully, leading insurtech companies, such as Lemonade, Hippo, Next Insurance, Sapiens Earnix and other excellent companies.
Interview with Kobi Bendelak, the Accelerator’s founder and CEO, running up to the fourth session of the accelerator program.
How did the accelerator start?
The need for an accelerator that would assist Israeli insurtech startups in connection with their activity in the world of insurance, mainly outside Israel, already existed for some time before the opening of the accelerator. The initiative was a joint initiative by Insurtech israel and Broker Tech Ventures, which is the largest insurtech entity in the USA and ourselves. A unique collaboration of the largest private brokers in the USA Within a short time, we realized that despite the fact of Tel Aviv being regarded as of the world insurtech industry capitals, it did not have a program for assisting Israeli insurtech startups in understanding the world of insurance in depth and assist them in exposing and selling their systems around the world. Brokertech Ventures’ capabilities and experience together with our extensive connections in the world insurance industry formed a successful basis for developing an accelerator program in Tel Aviv.
Tell us briefly about the programs’ success stories?
Within the framework of the accelerator’s first three sessions in which 17 startups participated, we can already identify a number of amazing international successes, such as Healthee, Effectivate, Ravin.Ai, Five Sigma, Emnotion, Surance, Safe Mode and CI who have raised dozens of millions of dollars and have signed on tens of deals in the last 18 months.
What are the plans for the future?
We are of course acting to deepen our connection with the insurtech industry all around the world, wanting to see greater involvement of Israeli insurance companies in supporting the program. We are also planning in making our program into an international program making it into a network of accelerator programs around the world and assisting the insurtech world in growing and succeeding.
What causes your partners to be so involved in the program?
Our partners in the accelerator program are some of the world’s largest and leading entities, such as Dell, Microsoft, Deloitte, Milliman , Sompo Insurance, Aon, Bolttech, Brokertech Ventures, Xceedance, Sapiens, Ranger , MWE, Clyde&Co who are deeply involved in the world of insurance and insurtech and are of very high value for startups on the one hand and on the other hand have a great interest in getting to know and exposing these capabilities in the Israeli ecosystem, giving the excellent connection between all of the parties – for the startups which as a result are exposed to relevant technologies and connections via the partners all over the world and for the partners themselves via exposure to new and groundbreaking insurtech technologies. I think that the benefit deriving for both sides from the collaboration is what brings the huge success from these connections.
What makes the program so special and successful?
Firstly, this is a boutique program. We choose only 4-6 startups in each session from tens of startups registering. Secondly, the length of the program – the program runs for 10 weeks, a period which is not short but not too long, which enables the startups deepen, invest time and benefit from the good tools that they are given. A shorter program would reduce the extent of the possible benefit and a longer program would in my opinion burden the startups and get in the way of the ability to benefit from the capabilities that the program is able to offer.
Beyond this, there are three significant bases that impact on the success:
Mentoring method – The program is based on a mentoring method which is different from some other programs. The work of world’s top mentors is joint work with all of the startups, with the mentor himself being exposed to all of the technologies and the entrepreneurs, and the startups themselves are exposed to the experience and knowledge of all of the mentors, unlike the regular mentoring program where the connection is only one-on-one.
Coachers – Every startup CEO is linked up during the program with an experienced start-up CEO from the world of insurtech for meetings once every two weeks that give the entrepreneur an excellent opportunity to consult about the challenges being faced by him with the coacher acting as a listening ear, who is experienced as well as an excellent opportunity to work with an experienced CEO who can assist in solving these challenges.
The roadshows – During the program we hold a number of virtual and physical roadshows for the startups in order to expose them to insurance companies from all over the world. The jewel in the crown is the physical roadshow that we hold once a year in the USA for our session graduates. During five intensive work days the startups meet and present at workshops and meetups to hundreds of insurance people, investors, brokers and regulators in main cities in the world of insurance in the USA. This is an experiential and highly successful journey at both a professional and a personal level. The connection between the startups creates an amazing ability of conversation and consultation and of course a non-mediated connection with relevant people in their main target market in the USA.
What is important for you in choosing startups for the program?
We are looking for immediate success stories. This means startups that will succeed in raising significant sums of money quickly or those that have a groundbreaking and interesting startup or startups that will sign on interesting deals in the near future. For this to happen the solution offered by the startup needs to be relatively mature and suited to a real and significant problem and the startup needs to have a successful team and sufficient capital for execution. In light of this most of the startups selected by us are mature and have a product, a team and have recruited an investor. At the same time, we have had startups that have come with a mature idea but without a product and without a customer who were chosen for the program and who were phenomenally successful.
How does the future of the insurance world look from the insurtech world point of view?
The world of insurance is undergoing dramatic changes all around the world. The entry of new technologies, customer demands to receive digital service and need to improve both operating and business efficiency have brought the insurance world to making significant technological moves. The insurance companies around the world are adopting new capabilities, no few of them from Israel, in order to become more efficient and earn more and succeed in being at the front of the business stage. In addition, I am seeing a big increase in the link between insurtech startups focusing on customer sales (in competition with the insurance companies) and insurance agents and brokers. The understanding is reaching the end customer in selling most of the insurance products still requires the work of the agent. A few years ago it was thought that the insurtech technology would cause the insurance agents to disappear, but in practice insurtech is collaborating with broker agents both in the ability to make them digital and mainly as a significant distribution channel.