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Openly CEO and Co-Founder Ty Harris — Bending the Insurance Curve

In today’s episode, I sit down with Ty Harris, CEO, and Co-Founder of Openly.

Full Episode → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple

Ty founded Openly in 2017, alongside CTO Mateusz Wielbut. Openly uses technology to provide re-imagined and beautifully simple home insurance. The company was part of the TechStars accelerator program in 2018 and is backed by PJC, Gradient Ventures, Advance Venture Partners, Obvious Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Greenlight Capital, and others. In this episode, we discuss:

Ty’s Career Journey:

Ty received his undergraduate degree in economics at Duke University, then continued studying economics at MIT. After that, he spent 13 years at Liberty Mutual, eventually becoming Chief Product and Underwriting Officer for Personal Lines. At Liberty Mutual, Ty built pricing and underwriting models for homeowner’s insurance and noticed a pain point in the homeowner’s insurance market. He and Mateusz decided to tackle this problem through Openly.

Openly’s Origin Story:

Whether it's running, ballroom dancing, or, in Openly’s case, homeowner’s insurance, Ty likes to build something up from nothing. Ty and Matt met each other through their wives, who were friends at MIT. They both believed that insurance as an industry is not where it should be: 40% of money goes towards expenses (not claims dollars or profits), and consumers still have coverage gaps. Openly hopes to make insurance less surprising and more efficient.

The Product:

Openly currently offers a single-family home owner’s insurance product through independent agents. The onboarding process only requires three questions, name, date of birth, and address. The team then uses proprietary data to gather additional information on the house and the customer, providing a quote to the customer within seconds. They use an army of independent agents to sell the product without spending on D2C marketing. To generate efficiency throughout the entire process Openly has built a predominantly bespoke tech stack.

The Impact of Covid-19:

Openly used a remote model of work even before the pandemic hit, and have become even more confident in the approach of the last few months. While Ty was nervous that the real-estate cycle would take a significant hit during the pandemic, single-family homeowner’s insurance proved to be a resilient segment in the industry, providing a tailwind for the company’s growth. To help keep pace, Openly raised a $40M series B in December of 2020, and Ty’s role has transitioned more towards talent acquisition.

Expansion Strategy:

Openly’s general levers of expansion are geography, agents, and product. The team currently operates in eight states and hopes to expand to 20 states by the end of the year. The team determines its geographic expansion strategy by analyzing the regulatory landscape in each state and its portfolio diversity. Last, Openly hopes to include an auto-insurance product in the years to come.

Rapid Fire Round:

  • Favorite US City?
  • Last show you binge-watched?
  • New pandemic hobby?
  • Favorite vacation?
  • Advice for your 20-year-old self?

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Anirudh Singh
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About the Author
Anirudh Singh is a first-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, where he is part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast team. He has a passion for sports, economic development, venture capital, financial services, and all things FinTech. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, feedback, and opportunities at singhan@wharton.upenn.edu.

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We are FinTech thought leaders connecting innovators, academics, and investors with the ideas and products that are reinventing global financial services.

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Anirudh Singh

Anirudh Singh

Wharton MBA Candidate, Fintech Enthusiast, Early Stage Investing

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