What I learnt from my first insurtech hackathon?
Talk to people before you pitch an idea.
On Friday evening, after a whole day’s work, when I arrived at an insurtech boot camp at NDRC (Dublin, Ireland) for Aviva Insurance, I realized it is going to be a new experience for me.
The process to pitch an idea is in quick succession, starting with stating your name, describe the business, write your idea in 3 words and voted by everyone in the room. Idea owners have only 60 seconds and mostly everyone started by introducing their name. With every pitch in quick succession, it was impossible to remember all the names.
I took notes frantically and marked as to which one I like and be useful. However, when the time came to cast my vote, I could not pinpoint names to the ideas or find the three words each idea represented.
It pays to talk to the public before the process starts. Before you walk into the room have a clear understanding what you want to say. Do a little homework to describe your idea as clearly as possible in few words.
Keep Team small
Two ideas interested me when the results were announced.One was to help find a missing pet and another flight planning for drones.
I went and talked to the idea owner of pet pal and realized I could not give to such a large team.
I decided to have a little chat with Matthew. After talking for few minutes, I realized what Matthew and Kerr (co-founders of Flyte) are doing is important. If I am going to devote 50 hours of my life, it has to worthwhile.
I ended up with Matthew, Kerr, Lisa(consultant) and Darren(actuary).
It was a wise move as we were the smallest team in the competition. To do a lot in a small space of time ,more the merrier does not work.
Prepare well to understand well
We finished around 11pm on Friday went home to get a good night sleep. I woke up around 4.30 am and decided to do some research about drones, regulations, market size, Flyte, my team members, NDRC, judges and mentors from Aviva. My intention was to have a clear understanding about what I was getting myself into for next 30 hours. Also, I wanted to give as much as I can to learn the process more.
It pays to invest time to prepare yourself so that you can give as much as you can and learn more about the process.
Talk to many people
On Saturday morning, we got together to find the solution to the problem. I have to say even if Matthew and Kerr were working on the project from last few months they were open to let 3 of us give. The challenge was to show the advantage of the product to the Insurance companies.
It was the same process of finding the solution to talk to as many people as possible.
There were excellent presentations about Lean Canvas and Customer Experience organized by NDRC. It was really interesting to see what I am learning in Trinity College Dublin being practiced in the real world.
We received some positive and negative feedbacks. It was an interesting to see the business model evolving and changing by utilizing the above process again and again to find the best fit for the competition.
When we found a solution we started another process of validating the idea.
Get ready to talk to lots of people. People are very helpful and you never know whose opinion might help you to get that most import product –market fit. Validate few different models and choose the best one you believe in.
In the evening there was a presentation how to deliver a perfect pitch. I found the talk interesting and opened my eyes to presentation style required when pitching your start-up.
The last pitch is an important part of the process. In the boot camp, we have 4 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes for questions and answers. All the hard work we had being doing for last few hours depended on delivering a perfect pitch.
Matthew worked on the pitch all night. Four minutes meant only one or two lines for each judging criteria. He had to cut 1500 words to 500 words to present the application.
The pitch and slides have to present streamlined vision, grab attention, evolve emotions in the public, meet judging criteria and uncomplicated. Keep the following words by William Shakespeare in back of your mind
“Brevity is the soul of wit”.
It is better to focus on important aspects of business model such as product, customer segment and not everything. The pitch acts as a medium to discuss more with the judges. Emphasize on points you want judges to ask you and be ready for the questions.
The main takeaway for me from the process are preparation, continuous open communication and concise and exact use of words. I think this led us to win the first prize.
I would like to thank NDRC, Aviva and my team members for a lovely learning experience. I wish Flyte success in the future.
I learnt a lot from the experience and am going to use the above lessons learnt in Startup Weekend (Dublin) in 3 weeks’ time.
Wish me luck!