Australian insurtech leads the charge in MetLife Asia accelerator

Friday the 19th May 2017, saw the wrap-up of the global MetLife Collab insurtech technology matchmaking program and the announcement of the three finalists (from 8 selected). Congrats to Uniphore the overall winner and Flamingo, an Australian Insurtech received the Presidents award and further highlights the weight of insurtechs coming out of Australia.

The MetLife Collab program finale followed the highly successful Insurtech Asia Roadshow and summit in April, hosted by George Kesselman from Insurtech Asia. The Insurtech Asia roadshow was also attended by other Australian Insurtechs including Chris Bayley from CoverGenius and Jonah Cacioppe from Boundlss and demonstrates the calibre and progression of Insurtech in our region.

Program takeaways

Importantly, The Collab program was not ‘just another accelerator’ and as a result, was a success. The program demonstrated a new approach to startup and corporate collaboration and how when ‘done right’ practical outcomes can result for insurer and startup alike. The key drivers of success of the program were:

  1. No investment taken — MetLife was not looking to take equity and develop a portfolio. This meant they were able to attract established businesses who could solve problems now, not maybe in the future. This also meant no term sheets, detailed DD or months of contracts. What a relief.
  2. Problems first — The program first and foremost was based on real problems for the life insurer from across the APAC region, direct from the business units themselves. This meant that they could identify technologies appropriately and MetLife and the startups were aligned from the start. There weren’t any ‘pivot’ moments to be seen.
  3. Business cases built from within — I am often concerned when business cases are built to justify H2 or H3 innovations. Often, the business case will never stack up (yes, it is the future and that’s hard to predict). Yet, the program helped. Each participant was teamed up with business champions from MetLife with internal knowledge (or the ability to be able to get it) of the problem statements. This helped to navigate the businesses through the often problematic network of decision makers (or lack thereof decisions) that can consume many of weeks and months for startups when selling to enterprises. In addition, this also meant that MetLife employees got to real work experience working with real startup challenges every week for 12 weeks. No innovation theatre to be seen here.
  4. The prize, an actual contract for $$$— For an early stage enterprise technology company this is gold. Getting to deploy your technology within one of the world’s largest insurers gives you validation and an immediate opportunity with revenue attached. Any potential investor will love this.
  5. The senior leadership support (and not just saying it they do)— MetLife got this right. From the start the program had the support of the APAC President Chris Townsend and this was demonstrated by the calibre of senior leaders at the finale and the calibre of the champions in the program. Without this, the program could have seen a different outcome.

Well done to the MetLife Collab team Zia Zaman and Shwetank Verman on putting together a great program. Thank you also to the Flamingo team champions at MetLife, you were pivotal in Flamingo’s success. We look forward to seeing more Australian insurtech’s participating in what you do next.

What next for insurtech in Australia?

Despite this great momentum don’t get too excited yet. We have some way to go in Australia for insurtech to reach the hype of fintech. And to add to this we have concurrently seen a drop in global insurtech investment in 2017 compared to 2016. The question is, when do we expect to see the output from the investments in 2015 and 2016?

Positively however, we are seeing more insurtech’s coming alive in Australia, Australia’s first Insurtech Pitch comp and conference and Australian insurers likes IAG and QBE continuing to invest in CVC funds and innovation hubs to drive partnering and insurtech collaboration. We look forward to more investments and collaborations over the remainder of 2017.

If you would like to support the Insurtech community in Australia, join the Melbourne and Sydney Meetup groups. More to come soon on Insurtech Australia soon with a formal launch, but get in touch if you would like to be involved, insurer or startup alike. Also check out our insights into Australia’s first Insurtech Pitch event here.

Brenton is the Founder of Insurtech Sydney (founded in 2016) and co-Founder of Insurtech Australia, both member organisations supporting the growth of the Australian Insurtech startup ecosystem and insurance innovation. Brenton is the Chief Commercial Officer at ASX -listed Insurtech Flamingo Ventures.

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