In the final part of our series, I sat down with Zain Ibrahim, a SummerHack 2021 judge and Executive Director and COO at EFU Life in Pakistan. We discussed Zain’s experience as a first-time judge and participant, highlights from the event, and his advice for teams looking to win at next year’s SummerHack 2022!
Zain, thank you for joining us both as a judge and participant this year! We’re curious to know, what inspired you to get super involved with the event?
I was recommended by a previous colleague who knew from firsthand experience about the appetite of our company to digitalize and innovate within our industry. I was then approached by Cookhouse Labs, of course, and later found out that I had connected with Jason (Cookhouse Labs’ partner in China) beforehand, so I felt at home.
As a judge and as a participant, you have two different perspectives to share with us. Let’s start with the participant side; What is something about the participant experience that you wish more judges and audience members knew?
Above everything, it taught me to empathize more. As a participant, I gained an understanding of how the whole process works, and I was able to relate more to the teams and what they were trying to achieve. In a global event, teams are from various backgrounds, and it would better serve the judges if they understood the markets the teams are coming from and what challenges they are trying to solve within their regions.
On the other hand, what is something that you wish participants understood better from a judge’s point of view?
It’s all about simplicity. All beautiful things start simple, and judges are not looking for complicated solutions. For every solution we looked at, we asked, “What’s the simple idea here?” to help us understand what the team was trying to solve. So, the key is simplicity.
Staying on the topic of looking at solutions, which pitch did you find memorable and more importantly, why was it memorable for you?
Both the winner and runner-up were amazing! The pitch deck that caught my eye most belonged to the winner, and I’ll tell you why. They took on a difficult challenge and presented it in a uniquely creative way. I was really impressed by the practical solution and the way they executed the pitch.
After seeing all of these pitches and other pitches you’ve seen in your profession, what are three key ingredients that make a successful pitch?
The first one would have to be passion, specifically for the problem that you’re trying to solve. Without that, you will not be able to put your heart into finding the solution, and without that, you won’t be able to come up with a truly innovative pitch.
Another ingredient would be practicality, because while you may come up with an out-of-the-box solution, you need to be mindful of the fact that your innovative solutions should be practical, executable, and should make business sense.
The final ingredient would be the presentation video. You can tell when a team allocates a significant amount of time to the content and to the idea when you see the actual presentation video, and this differentiates the good ones versus the really good ones.
So, what advice would you offer teams for next year?
Practice more. As a team, it’s always better to practice your presentation several times beforehand and even preempt some of the questions that the judges will ask, because then you’ll be able to better handle the questions and everything will look flawless.
Drawing on your experience as both a participant and as a judge one more time, how would you describe your overall experience at SummerHack?
One word: Amazing. The best thing about participating in such an event is that we got to step away from our everyday tasks and unlearn everything we knew about innovation. It was our first time learning about the Design Thinking methodology, and when we were chatting about our experiences afterwards, you could tell that it inspired an innovative mindset in all of us. Now we ask, “Is there a better way to manage this?” in our day-to-day tasks.
I’m really impressed by the flawless management of the event. The team had to manage 12 hours of time differences and they did a tremendous job. All the prep work was given to us and we had meetings before the event, where we were told what to do and what to expect. Even the technical support, I remember, was incredible. We had trouble at the very last minute in uploading our pitch video late at night, and we asked for help. We were helped immediately, and so to Cookhouse Labs, thank you for the amazing management.
Thank you for the kind words! A final question for you: How can an event like SummerHack help #MakeInsuranceBetter for the global community?
Such an event fosters innovative thinking, right? And innovative thinking means thinking differently for different markets. An event like this helps in the local context, because you see global companies talking about challenges and solutions that are relevant to specific markets, but the way they are handling those challenges could in some way, shape, or form be applicable to another market. That’s the beauty of having a global event: You can learn a lot about how others are tackling challenges around the world and apply it to a local challenge. There’s always something you can take away from these events.
Zain, thank you so much for sharing your insights and valuable advice with our community. We wish you all the best and hope to see you and Team EFU Life again at SummerHack 2022!
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