2020: A Year in Review

2020 a year in review

One year ago, we re-launched Cookhouse Labs in December, and what a great year it has been!  

Cookhouse Labs 2.0 introduced an Acceleration stage to our collaboration model, supporting both MVP and product development after the initial Ideation and Creation stages of a co-creation project. We’re delighted to say that Cookhouse Labs 2.0 was a major success this year, breaking traditional barriers to collaboration both locally and internationally! 

Here’s a look at some of the Labs’ incredible accomplishments since December 2019:

1. 500+ innovators joined our community this year — and generated nearly 200 ideas!

We were excited to meet innovators from all around the world in 2020! 

Innovators from all across geographies, ages, and cultures came together for our virtual events! They collaborated during co-creation sprints, ideathons and student projects, learned about various innovation methodologies in our Masterclasses, and dove deep into industry topics in sessions with seasoned experts. We were delighted to welcome innovators with diverse experiences and backgrounds including tech, venture capital, finance, law, marketing, HR, and student life!

2. Our Innovation Team hosted 10 global innovation Masterclasses

Our Masterclasses were informative, engaging, and full of high energy! 

Our participants spent time learning about various innovation methodologies from our Lead Innovation Coach, including Design Thinking, Google Sprint, and Lean Startup. Other attendees joined our Train the Trainer sessions to explore tools and communication styles they could use to facilitate their own innovation projects. In our Design Tools Masterclass, our Senior UX/UI Consultant walked participants through design theory and led them through exercises to build their own mobile app mockups. Some of our favorite app ideas included coffee orders, pet care, and late-night cookie delivery!

3. We brought together 200+ hackers from over 10 different countries

85+ participants celebrate the winning team at WinterHack 2020 — Team Munich Re! 

This year brought some of our biggest innovation events, including our 24-Hour Global SummerHack: IoT Disruption in Insurance and WinterHack 2020: Global Design Thinking Ideathon. Our teams were full of innovators of all ages and backgrounds — including insurers, students, startups, and vendors — who were often continents apart! Similarly, our Events Teams pulled these events off with incredible coordination despite being in separate locations around the world, such as China, Germany, Canada, and Pakistan!

In these truly global events, our teams tackled a diverse range of challenges and pitched their solutions to a jury panel of accomplished innovation leaders. We were blown away by the ideas that were shared at these Final Pitch Events, solving key issues such as mitigating small business bankruptcy, overcoming loneliness in the elderly, helping customers understand their policies, fighting obesity, and creating IoT-based mobility insurance products. Our winners took home exciting prizes, including a Cookhouse Labs Membership, a Design Thinking session, and tickets to insureNXT|CGN, courtesy of InsurLab Germany!

4. We fostered incredible community spirit during these challenging times

Our Lead Innovation Coach, Ibeth Ramos, interviews two salon owners from Winnipeg, Canada in the session, ”Success Stories of Small Business Owners”. 

2020 was a difficult year for the owners of small businesses, who faced major sales declines and the possibility of permanent closures. In these challenging times, we brought the insurance industry together for the first-ever virtual Back to Business Summit in September, an idea that was generated through a co-creation sprint we ran earlier in the year. The event aimed to provide small business customers with free access to experts on key business topics through 19 live and on-demand sessions. Our experts shared helpful information for owners on topics such as low-budget marketing, financial assistance programs, finding alternate revenue streams, legal considerations towards employees, and understanding their insurance coverage.

This initiative was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, motivating us to bring the event back in October with additional free sessions for the small business community. These sessions continue to be available on our official event page, and we encourage you to explore and share these with any owners you know who may benefit from this free knowledge!

Reflecting on this past year at Cookhouse Labs, it has undoubtedly been a fascinating one full of new ideas, connections, and opportunities. As we raise a glass in celebration of these achievements, we want to take a moment to appreciate our global community of innovators. Thanks to your continued support and enthusiasm, we have achieved innovation across borders on a scale beyond our wildest dreams. You inspire us to dream bigger on our journey to #MakeInsuranceBetter, and for this we are truly grateful!

Looking forward, we’re delighted to announce that our 2021 Events Calendar is now live, full of exciting Masterclasses, co-creation projects, and global innovation opportunities! As a token of our appreciation to the community, we’ve extended our 50% Virtual Discount on our Annual Memberships to December 31st, 2020, with Memberships starting at $250 CAD monthly. We invite you to check out our upcoming events and other perks of becoming a Cookhouse Labs Member — hurry, our 50% Virtual Discount ends in less than 3 weeks!

The Most Innovative Gifts of 2020

Most Innovative Gifts 2020

‘Tis the season for gift-giving, and as we approach the deadline for shipping, we thought we’d share some of the best gifts that made our list.

To help you with your holiday shopping, we’ve created a list of 5 innovative gifts to send your loved ones this season. All of these gifts are available online, making them safe and easy to deliver to your friends and family members.

So go ahead — end the year on a festive note with our top gift picks!

1. Must-Have WFH Technology

In March, organizations around the world shifted to virtual workspaces, creating a shortage of basic work-from-home (WFH) technology. It’s not too late to send the busy professionals in your life the newest versions of necessary WFH tech to improve their virtual game, such as a Video Conference Lighting Kit or a Smart Wi-Fi Router for Wi-Fi dead spots around the house. Even further, many of us have struggled with discomfort from poor posture in the home office. Why not send your giftee an innovative Massage Roller to relax those tense muscles this holiday season?

2. Virtual Travelling Experience (VR Tourism)

Gift your favorite traveler their own VR Headset to complement a virtual travelling experience! Whether they choose to take a breathtaking helicopter ride over tourist spots around the world or visit NASA research facilities across the U.S., you can rest assured that you will have given them the gift of travel in the safest way possible this year.

3. A Gift Card from Your Favorite Small Business

Earlier this year, we ran a 6-month project to support heavily impacted community businesses during these challenging times. We invite you to play your part by sending your loved ones a gift card or purchase a gift online from your favorite local business. Some cool ideas from independent businesses include customized self-care kits, handcrafted home décor and clothing, and virtual group classes for activities such as painting, yoga, and cooking.

4. Phone Screen Magnifier

This special gift will double the size of your phone screen while maintaining the HD quality, making it the perfect gift for anyone with a smartphone. Give your loved ones a break from focusing on tiny pixels — they’ll love you for it!

5. Silk Pillowcases

Recent developments in the industry have led to pillowcases with cooling capabilities that prevent bedhead and reduce damage to skin. This holiday season, give your friends and family the gift of luxurious sleep with must-have silk pillowcases!

We hope our list has helped you create your own holiday list. From all of us at Cookhouse Labs, we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful and safe holiday this year — and we can’t wait to see you in the New Year!

Wondering what we have planned for 2021? Our Events Calendar is live and full of innovative projects, Masterclasses, and global events. Check it out here!

Partnering with the Insurance Industry to Support the Community

Over the course of 2 days, we provided small business owners with live access to expert knowledge, resources, and community support to aid them as they return #BackToBusiness during these challenging times. The session topics were selected based on key business areas that owners had expressed interest in learning more about. Our team of innovators has been working closely since April to bring this virtual event to life, and we’re happy to share that it was a success!  

To help you get caught up on the progress of this project, we’ve summarized some interesting facts about this event below: 

It all began with a Co-Creation Sprint 

In April, we brought members of the insurance industry together virtually to ask the question, “How might we come together to support the small business owners in the community?” 

Over the course of 4 afternoons, our innovators worked together using Design Thinking to develop an impactful solution to the challenges small business owners were facing in these difficult times. The team interviewed owners in Canada, the U.S., and Bermuda to understand the challenges in depth, and what they learned about was the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty small business owners experienced every day. During these interviews, the team uncovered a common challenge — while many owners sought vital information to develop their reopening strategy, such as Financial Planning, Marketing, and Insurance Coverage, very few of them were able to access expert knowledge due to budget constraints and lack of accessibility.  

The solution: Make the information accessible at no cost, truly from the core of supporting the community! 

We received truly generous support from the industry 

There’s a reason we call them Summit Partners, and not Sponsors! The entire event was organized by volunteers, promoted by Partners, and hosted by expert speakers looking to give back to the community. We’d like to give a special shout-out to Kasia Kraszewska, Nancy Kwan, and Marcel Hegglin for their dedication, support, and enthusiasm throughout the project! 

We’d also like to say a big thank-you to our Partners: 

The community loved it! 

The community shared incredible feedback, thanking our expert speakers for making the information easy to understand and for taking the time to answer questions from our audiences! 

“I appreciate the fact that our speaker was self-taught and candid,” one attendee wrote to us about the session, Build an Online Presence. “As a small business owner, financial resources are precious, and we need a practical approach. He was practical, informative and very helpful in responding to questions. A great presentation and very happy to have attended!” 

“Loved the whole talk,” another attendee shared after the session How to Launch a Product ended. “It was simple, effective and the speaker gave a clear and comprehensive explanation. Very refreshing to listen to her.” 

All of our survey respondents said that the information shared offered value in helping them get back to business. During the event, our registrations more than doubled as more business owners joined to obtain access our live and on-demand sessions! 

There’s more to come 

After the positive response we received, the team decided to continue to support the community by offering more live and on-demand sessions in the coming months! We’re excited to share that we already have expert speakers lined up on topics such as Cybersecurity and Legal, thanks to our newest Partners — more on this soon! 

There’s still time to join this community support initiative; click here to become a Back to Business Partner! 

Curious about the next phase of the Back to Business Summit project? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates! 

SummerHack 2020: A Race Against the Clock (Part 3)

SummerHack2020 Quantummy

In the next part of our series, I had the pleasure to chat with Team Quantummy, winner of our Best Solution – Greater China Area prize and overall 2nd Place in our main SummerHack category. I chatted with Natasha Gibe, Derek Jones, and their Mentor Tommy Kim about the team’s two-time winning solution and how staying awake the whole 24 hours helped them develop their idea!

Team Quantummy’s winning solution: RELIOT

Natasha, Derek, and Tommy, thank you for joining us today and congratulations on winning in 2 major categories! Before we talk about the incredible experience and outcome, we’d love to know more about you.

Natasha: I live in Toronto and I work in contract software development. I have been in the industry for less than a year now — I actually transitioned from dentistry into software development!

Derek: I live in Toronto as well and work in software development. I work for a SaaS startup called Uberflip and I have been in the industry for over 7 years.

Tommy: I have been in the Property and Casualty insurance industry for almost in 8 years now, and am currently working as a Senior Actuarial Analyst at Munich Reinsurance.

Thank you for the intro! Tell us, what inspired you to join SummerHack 2020?

Natasha: We enjoyed the last hackathon we joined on Hackworks, and so I went on the platform and searched the upcoming hackathons they were supporting. I came across the IoT SummerHack 2020, and asked Derek if he wanted to join. Registrations were closing on the same night, so we signed up!

Looking at your double-win, that was definitely a good call! How did you prepare for the 24-hour event?

Derek: We didn’t prep too much, but we did try to learn about the insurance industry. We watched some YouTube videos and learned the basics of how insurance works and some common terms, like what an actuary is. There were all these things that we didn’t know about, and that was our prep. It wasn’t super extensive, it was learning the basics. We tried to learn about IoT trends as well.

Which of the three challenges did you choose, and why?

Natasha: We choose to tackle the small business challenge around how small businesses manage risks that they are exposed to. We related to this one the most, especially seeing small businesses in Toronto that were highly affected by COVID-19.

Could you walk us through the process of how you developed your solution?

Derek: Everything was remote, so the Zoom call was up and running. We had our webcams on all the time and collaborated with Tommy, which was really cool. We checked in with each other every hour or so. We talked about our workflow pretty early on; we decided to spend a lot of time understanding the problems that small businesses face, which would really be useful at the end of the day. We went ahead and discarded a lot of ideas through the first 12 hours, so we really only started solidifying and forming a more developed solution around midnight. We ended up staying awake the whole 24 hours to get to the final product — I don’t think we had any naps!

Tommy: Most of the focus was placed on empathy. Team Quantummy was more practical and realistic rather than visionary. We really understood the pain points of the small business owners, and we tried to simulate that and research to get to the exact point that we were heading to. At the end of the 24 hours, it was very effective. Our team was very confident and we were able to achieve that delivery.

On that note, tell us about how your mentor supported you throughout the journey.

Natasha: Tommy was on the Zoom call basically the whole time. He had such high energy the entire time, and he even stayed up the entire 24 hours! He taught us a lot about how the industry works and shared some links to studies and data that helped support our solution. He was a really great guide for us.

Tommy: Well, thank you!

It’s really great to hear about the collaboration and commitment within your team! It definitely paid off, because your solution was clearly a crowd favorite. Could you explain the concept of your solution for us?

Derek: The specific problem that we zoomed in on was that small businesses are very exposed to risks within their supply chains. Supply chains can get pretty complicated, and most small business owners are not experts at evaluating risk. Our solution was to create a certification program and an application that would end up creating a database of suppliers that are following industry best practices and risk prevention. Essentially, it would be a database of really low risk suppliers. Primarily, it focused on ensuring that suppliers are leveraging internet of things technology, so IoT tech. It had really shown to improve delivery, and would prevent destruction in manufacturing delivery, so we have a database of those suppliers. Small businesses could partner with those suppliers so that small businesses can build a reliable supply chain without having to analyze and understand all those risks.

Your solution won two prizes; it came 2nd in the main prize category and also won the Best Solution – Greater China Area special prize. How does it feel to have such a big win?

Natasha: We were surprised the first time we won; the first time our team name was announced, we thought, “Really?”. Then, for the second category, we were even more surprised, because a lot of the teams had awesome solutions, so we weren’t really expecting it. We were happy to hear that the solution resonated with them, and that the challenges really resonated with real life challenges and the problem that small business owners were facing. Throughout the event, we were trying to understand small businesses and the industry.

Tommy: It’s wonderful to see all the passion and hard work from Team Quantummy! Natasha showed the humble side of it, but I have to show another side. I would say that we were capable of it, because as we were dealing with all the different criteria, and the solution effectively met them and was very solid from my perspective. And at the end, yes, I really enjoyed hearing Quantummy announced as winners, and two times in a row, as well.

Team Quantummy, in your opinion, what made you so successful?

Derek: I think there were a couple of things. We definitely benefited from having a mentor who we could bounce ideas off of; that definitely helps the creative process and got rid of the uncertainty that we would have had on how feasible our ideas were. The second thing that I would say is that we decided to focus on understanding the domain. We wanted to understand the industry, IoT and technology, and see how those trending things are currently fitting into the industry. It’s amazing to see what is already in place! We were shocked to see all these devices and technologies that were already out there, and so that helped improve our understanding and it became feasible, helping us decide which ideas worked and which didn’t

Tommy: I would say the collaboration, firstly. I think we acknowledge our current knowledge and also tried to learn from each other too. Even though my title is as a Mentor to a wonderful team, I learned a lot more than I expected, so I think it was a great journey for myself. The second point is that we weren’t afraid to get knocked out in innovation. Sometimes innovation and creativity can be really hefty and a powerful word, and at the same time if we try to connect more dots, we can embrace our creativity and can propose more creative solutions.

How would you describe your overall experience at the hackathon?

Natasha: We had a really great time, overall. It was really tiring! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to branch out and learn something new. Staying up for 24 hours is something I don’t recommend doing often, but in this case it was a really rewarding.

Tommy: The experience itself was very enjoyable. I actually worked hard myself during those 24 hours, and we had some very creative ideas too. There were some very innovative solutions proposed too that really made us laugh over the 24-hour journey!

WinterHack 2020 is coming up in November, and as a winning team, we want to know: What advice would you give incoming teams for our upcoming hackathon?

Derek: Keep in mind that from the very start, the main output of everything has to fit into a very short pitch. When you’re pitching, time can go way faster than you expect, so from the very beginning keep in mind that it has to fit into 3 minutes. Make time for a few practice runs so that you make sure you don’t spend all that energy developing the solution and you run out of time before you even get the idea across. We have seen that happen with other teams in various other hackathons before ourselves.

Tommy: Please enjoy the challenge, please enjoy the discussion, and please enjoy the creative ideas that you can come up with after squeezing your brain over 24 hours!

Our mission at Cookhouse Labs is to #MakeInsuranceBetter for the overall industry, and our events are part of our journey. In your opinion, how can events such as SummerHack 2020 help us achieve this?

I asked Team Quantummy how events like SummerHack 2020 can help #MakeInsuranceBetter.

Natasha: There were so many smart people participating in the hackathon, so events like this can provide a great opportunity to problem solvers that don’t work in the industry. We can still contribute a lot in terms of problem-solving, knowledge, or technology from other domains. I think that getting fresh eyes for the problem will really bring innovative solutions to the surface.

Tommy: Sticking to the hashtag of making insurance better, the term ‘better’ is relative to the previous. Through this hackathon at Cookhouse Labs, we are already ahead of the game to welcoming a new face of innovation. And one day, we will hear positive feedback from policy holders, where insurance is no longer a necessary evil, but instead an angel that can provide more comforting protection eventually.

Team Quantummy, it was a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us, and congratulations once again!

Everything You Need to Know About the Back to Business Summit

FAQs Back to Business Summit

After we recently announced our upcoming Back to Business Summit, many members of the community reached out to us with questions about the event. To bring you up to speed on how you can get involved in this community support project, we’ve summarized some of the questions we frequently receive below!

  1. What is the Back to Business Summit?

Cookhouse Labs is partnering with the Insurance industry to organize this virtual community support summit, designed to aid small business owners across the Americas in recovering from recent business interruptions and support them in preparing themselves to go Back to Business. The event will comprise a mix of live and on-demand sessions which focus on key business topics that are important to the small business community. The event will go live on September 15 and 16, 2020, and will be entirely online/virtual.

  1. Why should I get involved?

Insurance was born out of the idea of community and right now, it is our responsibility to show up for the small business owners in our community. They are more than just business owners – they are our friends, neighbors, and family members. In these trying times, the community needs to come together. Your small business customers need your help to navigate the uncertain futures they face. This event is your way to:

  • Provide community support
  • Connect with your customers
  • Show you care
  1. How can I provide support and get involved?

There are four ways to get involved in the Back to Business Summit. You can:

  • Provide expert speakers for defined topics
  • Invite your customers to the event
  • Spread the word, share, and repost our posts on Social Media
  • Join the event coordination team

The event is an opportunity for Partners to connect with their small business customers. We will provide invitation emails, website registration links, and social media content so that you can share the event information directly with your customers.

  1. What topics will be covered in the speaker sessions?

We surveyed small business owners across the Americas to see what business topics they are interested in learning more about. Some of the high-interest topics are:

  • Business Strategy and Planning
    – Clarify Mission & Vision
    – What is the New Normal?
    – Design Thinking 101

  • Marketing and Social Media
    – Marketing 101
    – Social Media 101
    – Build Customer Personas

  • Insurance Policy, Coverage, and Claims
    – Know Your Coverage
    – Know Your Rights
    – Tips for Filing a Claim

  • Financial Planning & Taxes
    – Cash Flows and Expenses
    – Banking Resources
    – How to Protect Employees
  1. What benefits will I enjoy as a Partner?
  • Create goodwill with your customers
  •  Access expert knowledge for your customers
  • Expand your commercial network and meet potential small business customers
  • Receive high brand visibility throughout the event promotion and Summit duration
  • Show your customers that you care about them!

We invite you to join us in making a difference to the community – become an official Back to Business Partner and support your small business customers!

To get in touch with our Events Coordination Team about this community support opportunity, click here.

SummerHack 2020: IoT-Powered Disruption in 24 Hours

Race against time

In July, we hosted SummerHack 2020, our first virtual 24-hour global hackathon. We were joined by 100+ insurers and student innovators from 10 countries around the world, mentored by 20+ insurance experts. This year’s theme was “IoT Disruption in Insurance”, and at our Kickoff Event, we announced the 3 challenges our teams could tackle:

  1. Mobility Services
    How might we develop an IoT-based customer-focused holistic mobility insurance product/service?
  2. Small Businesses
    How might we develop IoT-based risk-prevention services/products for small businesses?
  3. Fight Obesity
    How might we develop IoT-based solutions/services to prevent and reduce obesity and overweight?

With that, our 22 teams set off to race against the clock to develop their IoT-powered solutions!

We wanted to provide support to our teams throughout their 24-hour journey – after all, innovation cannot happen without the right environment! At Cookhouse Labs, Design Thinking is our core methodology, and we encouraged our teams to use Design Thinking to guide their solutions. To help our teams prepare, we equipped them with Design Thinking Masterclasses, live topic-specific workshops, and a step-by-step guide on how to structure their time according to the 5 stages.

During the event, our Innovation Team provided live workshops with Q&A sessions to expand on the information shared in the Masterclasses. Whether it was Coach Ibeth’s high energy, UX/UI Designer Adys’s prototyping expertise, or Co-Founder Sven’s tips and tricks on presentation styles, our innovators had full access to our team’s knowledge and guidance. We were available round the clock to provide support – we even held a workshop at 3 in the morning!  And man, was that fun!

What inspired us was the level of commitment shown by our participants; Mentors took time away from work to check on their teams, and Hackers worked on their solutions throughout the night, pausing only briefly for short breaks. There was a shared sense of community spirit, coupled with an understanding that innovation cannot thrive without collaboration. Before the event, Mentors shared advice on how to best support their students and took time to expand further on the specific topic and on insurance. During the event, teams tested their solutions with each other. Even our Judges stopped by the Kickoff Event to share in the excitement!

The 24-hour hackathon period ended with an adrenaline-fueled final hour, where Hackers rushed to add last-minute details to their IoT-powered solutions before the submission deadline. Once this deadline passed, our Live Pitch Event began – the moment of truth, where each team had 3 minutes to pitch their solution to our panel of esteemed Judges.

Our panel comprised of 5 Judges with over 120 years of industry experience between them. Our Judges were Kin Lee-Yow (CIO, CAA Club Group of Companies), Manisha Dias (AVP Business Development, SCOR), Thomas Börtzler (Chief Innovation Officer, Munich Re of Canada), Till Heydel (VP Strategy & Corporate Development, BI&I Canada), and Sven Roehl (Co-Founder, Cookhouse Labs and Head of Innovation, msg global). After a fast-paced round of pitches, our Judges stepped away for deliberation.

During this break, Coach Ibeth shared interesting facts about our 100+ innovators, a compilation of results from polls and questionnaires our teams had answered before the event. As we learned, for over 70% of participants, SummerHack 2020 was their first hackathon – an amazing surprise!

Our Judges returned and it was time to announce the winners. Based on the Judges’ feedback, the top solutions were:

1. Team ABC

2. Team Quantummy

3. Team HackerExplo

Stay tuned as we interview the winning teams and we share more details about their solutions on our upcoming series “SummerHack 2020 – A Race Against the Clock”.

The students won a total of $4,000 CAD in prizes, sponsored by msg global solutions Canada. Our 1st Place Mentor won a virtual Design Thinking session (valued at $2,000 CAD), hosted by our Innovation Team! We celebrated all teams, and in that moment, all teams shared a sense of accomplishment, of true community – they had just conquered a 24-hour global hackathon!

The competition is not over yet; we still have 1 more prize!

In the upcoming days, we will announce the winner of our Best Solution – Greater China Area prize. Sponsored by Besurance China Limited, this prize is valued at $1,000 CAD and will be awarded to the solution that best serves the Greater China Area. We will be announcing this prize via social media live stream – you don’t want to miss it, so click here to stay updated!

A big thank-you to our sponsors, partners, participants, Mentors, and Judges for helping us create an exciting global innovation experience! A special thank-you to our platform partner, Hackworks, for their continued support in organizing and executing SummerHack 2020. Your support made this journey a lot easier and fun!

We are grateful for the support we have received from the community in our journey to #MakeInsuranceBetter. We hope everyone enjoyed our first virtual hackathon! We look forward to seeing our innovators again at our upcoming virtual events, especially our WinterHack 2020, which is scheduled for November 3rd and 4th 2020.

Follow us for more details as we announce the dates, format, and topics – click here to stay connected!

Supporting the Community in Going #BackToBusiness

Back to Business Summit

Somewhere in Toronto, a family-owned café serves its final customer, preparing to shut its doors indefinitely. Just across the border in New York, a salon owner wonders how she will make her next $6,000 rent payment. 

While the definition of the ‘new normal’ continues to evolve every day, for many the future is as uncertain as ever. Despite lockdown restrictions lifting in some areas, sales remain low as shoppers spend only on basic necessities.  All around us, small business owners are struggling to pay rent, plan for their families and themselves comfortably, keep their employees, and return to pre-pandemic levels of income. 

In challenging times, it is often critical to look through a lens of empathy. In doing so, we see that these individuals are so much more than “just” small business owners; they are members of our communities with families to support. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, and our customers. And right now, they are overwhelmed with the possibility of losing their livelihood and for many, losing their dream.

Insurance was born out of the spirit of community, where the burden of one was shared by many with the intention to support each other and protect each other’s wellbeing in times of hardship. So, in these difficult moments we ask, “How might we come together to support the small business owners in our community?”

In April, we asked this question at our first virtual co-creation sprint, “Innovating to Save Community Businesses During COVID-19“. Innovators from across the Americas collaborated for 4 afternoons to develop a solution to this shared challenge. To accomplish this, we began by empathizing with small business owners in Canada, the US, and Bermuda through virtual interviews.

The interviews gave us incredible insight into the challenges they were facing, and many tears were shed during the conversations. We understood the fear and anxiety that our community members experience every day, and how painful this experience is for them. 

After the interviews, one of our innovators was able to put into words what our entire team felt. She said, “This was a reality check. People’s dreams are being put on hold and there is a lot of uncertainty for them as business owners.”

Over the course of the project, we deliberated over many potential ways we could provide support in these difficult times. Our team came up with 70 ideas, and 1 MVP later, the concept of Back to Business was born!

So, what is Back to Business?

It is a solution to assist small business owners in preparing to return #BackToBusiness. We understand that many owners seek vital information to develop their reopening strategy, such as financial planning, marketing, and insurance coverage. As an industry, we will stand by our small business owners and provide access to experts on these topics and more in a 2-day virtual summit. To provide support to as many business owners as possible, we will make the information accessible across the Americas at no cost, truly from the core of supporting the community. 

As an industry, we will come together to show our community that we care about them, that we are here for them in times of hardship.

We will reach out to the family in Toronto and the salon owner in New York. We will support them in recovering from recent business interruptions. We will provide access to resources to help bring them peace of mind in these difficult times.

This is our community and we will show up for them.

Who do you know that wants to show up and support the community?

To become a Back to Business Partner and play your part, click here.

How to Disrupt Insurance in 24 Hours

Only 3 days left to SummerHack 2020!

If you’re joining us as a Hacker or Mentor this summer, you’re probably wondering how you’ll create a disruptive IoT-powered solution in just 24 hours. To help you prepare for our upcoming virtual hackathon, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to disrupt the insurance industry using Design Thinking in time for Friday’s deadline!

What is Design Thinking?

Previously in the insurance space, most insurers took the approach of creating solutions based solely on assumptions and hoped that their products or solutions would resonate with target audiences. Design Thinking reverses this logic by first identifying the root(s) of the problem, observing how people think and behave, and gathering customer insights. From there, they create practical solutions. Using this methodology invites teams to look at a problem through the eyes of the customer, put themselves in their shoes and fully empathize with the customer – who is ultimately the people impacted directly by the solution.

Stages of Design Thinking

The following are the stages of the Design Thinking process:

  • Empathize with the customer and other stakeholders
  • Define the opportunity or problem
  • Design a solution
  • Create and build a Minimum Viable Product/Concept/Service
  • Test the solution with customers and users

How to Use Design Thinking at SummerHack 2020

While the stages listed above may sound time-consuming, it’s possible to walk through each of them within a short timeframe. As a reminder, our Innovation Team will be available via regular check-in calls to answer any questions and provide support on how to follow Design Thinking to develop impactful solutions.

Below, we’ve broken down the 24-hour hackathon period using the Design Thinking process to help you structure your time (should you choose to do so) and succeed in SummerHack 2020!

Thursday, July 30th

9 AM – Empathize

At 9 am EDT, the Cookhouse Labs team will announce our IoT-based challenge and you will have 24 hours to create your solution!

Your Design Thinking journey begins with the first stage, Empathize. This is where you will begin to understand your target group, which can be done in 2 ways: internet research and interviews with your target group. You can’t create a customer-centric solution without putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, and a good way to do this is to speak directly with the potential customer and listen.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • An Empathy Map to help you visualize how the user thinks/feels and documents their pain points
  • Your Persona, a character that represents the type of customer/user of your solution. For example, in our last project about mitigating small business bankruptcy, we created the persona of Fiona, a small business owner in Toronto

1st Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 am to 12 pm!

3 PM – Define

The next stage focuses on constructing a point of view based on the user’s needs. Here, you will take time to reflect on what the user has shared with you and to visualize their experience. By doing so, you can define what problem you are trying to solve, which will help you shape a better experience for the user.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A Journey Map, which is a narrative of your user’s steps to accomplish a specific goal. This is mapped out in 2 layers: a timeline of the user’s actions and their thoughts/emotions while completing each task. You want to identify areas where the user encounters obstacles or barriers along their journey
  • How Might We (HMW) statements, which are short questions that focus on specific problem areas from the Journey Map and identifies the benefits or gains the solution will bring. In the same project about bankruptcy mitigation, our team created 20 HMW statements and selected, “How might we reduce the risk of financial impact of current economic events?”

2nd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 pm to 4 pm!

7 PM – Design

After selecting a single HMW statement to focus on, it’s time to ideate! This stage is all about connecting to your inner child and using your imagination to come up with multiple solutions to the problem your team identified. Quantity is important here, so remember to list as many possibilities as you can!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Multiple possible solutions to tackle the challenge in various timeframes
  • A chosen idea to begin prototyping!

3rd Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 7 pm to 8 pm!

11 PM – Create

Once your team has voted on a winning idea, you are now ready to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You will begin by creating a low-fidelity prototype, which could take the form of a sketch, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A sketch of your Lo-Fi prototype to help visualize and test the solution

4th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 11 pm to 12 am!

Friday, July 31st

3 AM – Test

Now that the solution has taken shape, it’s time to test and retest the idea with different users. The objective is to receive feedback on the content, design, and usability of the prototype and is usually done via surveys and interviews. It is important to remain open to feedback and fully engage with the potential end-user in order to understand their thoughts and improve your prototype. Note that if it is not possible to test with actual personas, you can either test within the team, with friends or connections you have in your network, your Mentor, or ask the Cookhouse Labs team if they have a chance to check out your solution.

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • A final MVP that is ready to be presented

5th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 3 am to 4 am!

7 AM – Wrap-Up

In 2 hours, you will submit your final solution!

At this time, you should begin to practice your presentation and prepare any materials required (such as PowerPoint slides). Remember, you will only have three minutes to pitch your solution to our panel of judges!

Deliverables: By the end of this stage, you will have:

  • Submitted your solution on our platform, including a brief description and any additional materials
  • Prepared your presentation for our Live Pitch Event beginning at 9:30 am

6th Check-In: Our Innovation Experts will be available from 6 am to 7 am!

To provide even further support, our Innovation Team has prepared a Design Thinking video series to walk you through each stage in more detail, which you will have access to before the event.

And remember – along the way, you will have support from your Mentor, an industry expert dedicated to providing your team with valuable knowledge and expertise.

And with that, you are now ready to disrupt the insurance industry!

We wish all our teams the best of luck for SummerHack 2020! We invite our community members to join the Live Pitch Event on Friday, July 31st at 9:30 am EDT to see the exciting solutions our teams of student and corporate innovations develop.

To receive an invite, please register here.

A Mid-Year Toast to Global Collaboration

Since our relaunch in December 2019, Cookhouse Labs has grown into a global center for insurance innovation. Through our co-creation sprints and diverse menu of events and trainings, we have brought together innovators from around the world to collaborate and #MakeInsuranceBetter.

At the Lab, we end every project with a collective celebration. Whether we’re in our physical space or connected virtually, our innovators and internal team members raise their favorite drinks for a toast to yet another successful collaboration.

We recently crossed the mid-year mark — this milestone inspired us to reflect on the past 6 months and celebrate the achievements on our journey since December. Every project is successful because of our valuable community of innovators, and we would like to invite you grab your favorite drink and join us in this virtual celebration!

Here’s a look at our year so far:

1. Our virtual event calendar was launched in just 2 days

In March, we swiftly moved our Lean Startup Training online just 2 days before the event. The initial virtual setup consisted of large parts, such as green screens and light stands, that spread across the Lab space. As we continued to host our online events, we began to include exciting tools — such as our well-known digital whiteboard — where our innovators posted thousands of virtual sticky notes full of insights and ideas, much like our in-person experience.

2. 150+ innovators joined our community this year

Global innovators of all ages joined our virtual events! They collaborated on week-long sprints, participated in our innovation trainings, and shared their lunch hour with us via our webinars. Our innovators brought new ideas and diverse perspectives to our projects, stemming from rich backgrounds in HR, IT, innovation, senior management, and student life!

3 . We ran 6 major co-creation projects

Our sprints covered themes around attracting young talent, collaborating with InsurTech startups, and challenges of insurance. Our community support sprint, which we first ran in April, is currently in Phase II, where the solution is being further developed and executed (reach out to us if you want to get involved in making a difference in the community). We also hosted a 24-hour student project around small business bankruptcy prevention. We completed nearly every one of these projects virtually, and doing so allowed us to collaborate with innovators worldwide!

4. 155+ ideas were generated in our projects

We challenged innovators to ideate potential solutions to the current issues faced in the insurance industry, and we were blown away by the incredible ideas shared! Our teams came up with solutions that could be implemented as early as the next week, as well as more complex

solutions that would be rolled out over several months. One of these ideas was a virtual summit to provide community support in these challenging times, and our innovators are currently working on executing this idea in Phase II of the sprint (learn more about how you can get involved)!

5. We hosted 9 innovation trainings

Our Head Innovation Coach walked participants through several exciting innovation methodologies, including Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Google Sprint. To help our community facilitate their own innovation projects, we hosted a Train the Trainer session, where participants learned valuable coaching tools and skills. Our Senior UX/UI Designer led our Design Tools Training, and by the end of the day, attendees walked away with their own Lo-Fi prototypes of mobile applications.

While this year has certainly been busy, it is far from over! Our Events Team is currently hard at work building our upcoming virtual summit to support small business owners as they recover from current business interruptions.

Preparation for our 24-hour Global SummerHack 2020 is also in full swing! This year’s theme is “IoT Disruption in Insurance”, and we’re very excited to see what our teams will build in this race against the clock!

As we raise a toast in celebration of our milestone, we want to thank YOU, the community, for your continued interest, engagement, and commitment to bring the industry together. Your enthusiasm inspires and motivates us every day, and we are grateful for your support in our journey to #MakeInsuranceBetter!

Innovating to save Community Business During COVID-19

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse LabS

Innovating to Save Community Business During COVID-19

How can the insurance industry support small businesses in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic?

12

HOURS

ONLINE

2020

8

ORGANIZATIONS

3

MVPs

Challenge

How might we encourage and guide small business owners with access to expert knowledge and community support, in order to give them peace of mind?

WHY?

Understanding small business owners’ concerns during COVID-19

SEE

SAY & DO

HEAR

THINK & FEEL

DISCOVERY

As business owners struggle to maintain a cash flow, they seek government financial assistance and alternative revenue streams.

What impact does the COVID-19 pandemic have on small businesses?

How can we help small businesses in our community to maintain a solid cash flow?

What resources (such as skills, tools etc.) do we have available to help small business on short notice?

SOLUTION

Together, the team listed 70 solutions and selected the final idea: a 3-day virtual speed consulting event in partnership with the Big 5 consulting firms.

1

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Posts for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn were designed to create awareness around the consulting event. “You are not alone,” the text read, and informed small business owners that the insurance organizations would soon announce their solution to help owners through these challenging times.

2

LANDING PAGE

A landing page prototype was created to provide more information about the consulting event. The page offered a countdown to the event start date and introduced the consultants who would be available during the sessions. Details on the event itinerary, a list of FAQs, and additional resources were included in the design, along with a registration section and contact form.

3

INTRODUCTION EMAIL

The team prepared an email to their small business clients to inform them of the upcoming virtual consulting event. The email was divided into sections that were dedicated to introducing the experts, offering event details, and providing information on the additional 1-on-1 consulting sessions that would be made available to these clients.

RESULTS

Over 4 afternoons, the team empathized with small business owners and understood in-depth the struggles and uncertainty they faced.

2

Empathy Maps

1

Customer Journey Map

21

Interview Questions

8

Customer Interviews

70

Initial Solutions

3

MVPs

1

Innovation Report

1

Project Presentation

PARTICIPANTS