Of course, worth noting that not all corporate venture arms in the insurance industry want the same things. As XL’s Tom Hutton remarks in a recent interview, “(XL Innovate) is structured as an independent venture fund, with the same incentives as a standalone institutional fund would have.”
For a while, CB Insights has been hosting seminars for our insurance clients about capitalizing on emerging industry trends and thinking strategically about new threats and opportunities.
Given continued demand, CB Insights has developed a new 2+ day executive bootcamp to be held in NYC for insurance company executives.
There are 25 spots in this session open to VP-level and above (or equivalent). If you are interested and meet the criteria or know someone in your organization who does, you can apply here. ________________
Q&A: Dan Woods, CEO, Socotra
In June, the FT’s Future of Insurance report highlighted the growing sense of urgency among policymakers and insurers to address the wide protection gap in emerging markets.
As the report notes, “The lack of insurance for emerging economies is becoming more of a problem as the costs of natural disasters increase. Exacerbating this risk are the effects of climate change.”
In that context, we feature a Q&A below with Dan Woods, formerly of Palantir and Formation 8. Today, Woods is the CEO of Socotra, which is building an end-to-end SaaS platform for core insurance operations in growth markets including in Africa. Socotra is backed by investors including Greenoaks Global Holdings, Founders Fund, and Max Levchin’s HVF Labs.
Below are some of his thoughts on growth market insurance risks, near-term goals, and the backstory behind Socotra’s start.
On founding Socotra
Working in private equity, I ran into people who were themselves doing purchasing (of insurers) in various growth markets around the world. In doing so, they knew that modernizing IT was going to be a massive part of transforming and growing an insurance company.
However, they were not finding the sorts of platforms they were expecting to exist. And it was in conversations with them and collaboration with them that it became apparent that there was a big opportunity to create a new platform for agile insurance operations.
How does Socotra think about inherent risks to insurers in growth markets and the effects of climate change?
The risk profile is very different if you’re on the enterprise software end vs. the client end because, whereas chaos is very difficult for the client, the worst thing for enterprise software is absolutely no change. Change is the friend of enterprise software and new players because in times of change, there are acquisitions, there are mergers, there are new players, new products and technologies.
If there are changes in pricing models, the core of which happens with climate change, this is an example of a change that is going to favor those that can adopt quickly, which a company like Socotra is in the business of enabling.
On its near-term roadmap
To date, Socotra has built a configurable SaaS product deployed and being used for underwriting, policy management, and claims for motor, property, term life, and more. Our main effort for the remainder of 2016 is support for savings products (whole life, etc).
Parallel to that is creating more materials around the open configurations and APIs that we’ve created. As an example, we’ve launched in beta a starter kit allowing a non-technical person to configure a Socotra instance to customize an insurance product.