WinterHack 2022: Q&A session [Sep 28]

Interested in joining this year’s WinterHack 2022 — a friendly innovation competition between colleges and universities?

Join our upcoming Q&A session to learn more about the event format, expected outcome, and exciting prizes!

DATE: Wednesday, September 28, 2022
TIME: 12:30 – 1 PM EDT
LOCATION: Virtual

Event Format  

  • 2 day virtual global event + 3 hour final pitch  
  • Facilitated ideathon following Design Thinking methodology in breakout sessions   
  • Ideathon period: Wednesday, November 16th and Thursday, November 17th, 2022  
  • The 2-day ideathon period will be held from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM EST.  
  • Final Pitch Event: Friday, November 18th at 11 AM EST  

Questions? 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to Insiya Meherally, our Community Manager, at insiya.meherally@cookhouselabs.com

WinterHack 2022: Final Pitch Event [Nov 18]

Cookhouse Labs is delighted to announce the return of WinterHack, this time with a brand-new ideathon format focused on young talent!  

This year’s ideathon aims to provide a space for students and university/college insurance programs to show their talent, knowledge and skills related to Creativity, Innovation and passion to #MakeInsuranceBetter. This is a friendly competition between universities and colleges – are you ready to represent your organization? 

In partnership with the Insurance Institute of Canada and Humber College, WinterHack 2022 is open to North American universities and colleges as an opportunity to showcase their innovative young minds and for students and staff members to learn/apply the principles of Design Thinking to real-world business challenges.  

This year’s theme is #MakeInsuranceBetter, and we can’t wait to see what our teams come up with! 

Each institution can register 1 team to represent them — with limited spots, be sure to secure your team’s spot as soon as possible! 


 

WinterHack 2022: Global Design Thinking Ideathon [Nov 16-17]

Cookhouse Labs is delighted to announce the return of WinterHack, this time with a brand-new ideathon format focused on young talent!  

This year’s ideathon aims to provide a space for students and university/college insurance programs to show their talent, knowledge and skills related to Creativity, Innovation and passion to #MakeInsuranceBetter. This is a friendly competition between universities and colleges – are you ready to represent your organization? 

In partnership with the Insurance Institute of Canada and Humber College, WinterHack 2022 is open to North American universities and colleges as an opportunity to showcase their innovative young minds and for students and staff members to learn/apply the principles of Design Thinking to real-world business challenges.  

This year’s theme is #MakeInsuranceBetter, and we can’t wait to see what our teams come up with! 

Each institution can register 1 team to represent them — with limited spots, be sure to secure your team’s spot as soon as possible! 

Event Format  

  • 2 day virtual global event + 3 hour final pitch  
  • Facilitated ideathon following Design Thinking methodology in breakout sessions   
  • Ideathon period: Wednesday, November 16th and Thursday, November 17th, 2022  
  • The 2-day ideathon period will be held from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM EST.  
  • Final Pitch Event: Friday, November 18th at 11 AM EST  

Questions? 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to Insiya Meherally, our Community Manager, at insiya.meherally@cookhouselabs.com

SummerHack 2022: “Artificial Intelligence” Winning Solution

Innovation Project Summary Cookhouse LabS

SummerHack 2022: “Artificial Intelligence” Winning Solution

Whether it’s underwriting, claims, or even fraud detection, AI offers the potential to improve efficiencies, minimize costs, and predict customer needs well in advance.

2

DAYS

ONLINE

2022

15

TEAMS

14

MVPs

Challenges

Under the theme “Artificial Intelligence”, we asked our global teams to choose from the following four challenges and ideate a real business solution using the Design Thinking methodology:

Financial Literacy

How might we use AI to help customers better understand their financial needs and choose the right products?

Risk Mitigation

How might we use AI to nudge customers to change their behavior to avoid or lower claims overall?

Inclusive Insurance

How might we use AI to develop and distribute inclusive insurance products to emerging markets?

Customer Experience

How might we use AI to build trust in insurance amongst our customers?

WHY?

Understanding Li, a 50-year-old, married entrepreneur leading his own
clothing export company, has two children and lives in Guangzhou

With limited time on hand, Team HSBC decided to take
on the challenge of
supporting customers in better understanding their financial needs, as currently it is easy to miss out on a chance to invest, manage debt, climb onto the property ladder and save for – and eventually enjoy – retirement.

PAINS (COMMON)

GAINS (COMMON)

DISCOVERY

Financial planners need support in rapport building and better knowledge of the financial products they are responsible for, in order to enhance trust building and better support clients like Mr Li.

How can we leverage an AI and knowledge base to take on some of these coaching tasks to scale up the quality of the PFP? This will free up the human coaching team to focus on the highest value activities and be more proactive, rather than reactive.

SOLUTION

The team ideated several solutions to support new advisors and selected the final AI-based coaching solution to guide planners in real-time through each step of the journey.

How might we use AI to provide real-time coaching support to enhance the advisors’ capabilities (especially inexperienced ones), in order to improve the quality of information, answers, and advice provided to our clients?

MEET EJAMES

An AI-based tool that helps advisors, especially inexperienced ones, with real time information, guidance, and advice during client interactions.

eJames is present during client conversations and ready to help advisors have “smarter” conversations! eJames listens to conversations between advisors and clients, and in real-time identifies topics and questions in the conversation.

The AI tool constantly filters and ranks these topics throughout the conversation and leverages a knowledge bank to identify industry insights relevant to these topics. eJames sends suggestions and content back to the advisor in real-time on their screen to help with the conversation.

In simple: eJames is the “Alexa” for financial planning!

RESULTS

At the end of the 2-day ideathon, 13 global teams pitched their ideas to our panel of experts.

95+

Participants

4

Continents

4

Judges

14

Participating Teams

366

Solutions Proposed 

13

Solutions Presented

1

Winner

200+

Audience Members

PARTICIPANTS

We also offer intro sessions that provide insurance professionals with the opportunity to experience our Cookhouse Labs methodology and a sneak peek at what it’s like to co-create and collaborate with our global community. If you are not a Cookhouse Labs member and are interested in finding out more, check out our membership benefits!

Cookhouse Labs is Back with Another Exciting Global Insurance Innovation Ideathon! 

Toronto, Canada, March 21, 2022 — msg global solution’s Cookhouse Labs, a gobal leader in InsurTech collaboration, co-creation and innovation, announced today that its infamous SummerHack will return for the 3rd year in a row. 

For the past 5 years, Cookhouse Labs has worked diligently to create a community of insurance, reinsurance, brokers, startups, vendors and academia from around the globe to co-create and develop solutions to tackle current and future challenges of the insurance industry. As part of this mission, the innovation hub frequently hosts wide-scale ideathons and co-creation projects, such as SummerHack, StudentHack (in collaboration with the Insurance Institute of Canada), and student bootcamps in partnership with local and international universities.  

“SummerHack gives insurers around the world an opportunity to play in our innovation sandbox for 2 days. The atmosphere is always full of high energy and creativity, and by the end of this event, everyone walks away feeling inspired and proud of the real business solutions they created in such a short time!” 

Sven Roehl, Co-Founder of Cookhouse Labs and Head of Innovation at msg global solutions

Among some of the exciting and creative solutions that result from these events is a Smart tooth that aims to lower health insurance premiums, an insurance awareness campaign that leverages everyday bread purchases, and an insurance product for those in the gig economy (such as ride-share drivers).  

This year’s theme centers on “Artificial Intelligence in Insurance” — a nod towards the powerful technology that is transforming areas across the global insurance industry and helping insurers make meaningful changes to elevate their customer experience. With the potential to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and predict customer needs well in advance, there are plenty of applications and ideas expected out of this year’s competitive event. 

Over 100 global participants typically race against the clock in these ideathons to claim the winner title, determined by a jury panel of esteemed industry leaders from top organizations, such as AXA, SCOR, and HSBC. The event is held in 3 different time zones to welcome participants from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC, adding an especially global dimension to this fast-paced competition. 

“These types of events generate new ideas that have legs to stand on. Hackathons, innovation labs, and incubators created a dedicated space to foster and promote these ideas, which can then be pitched to those working in sectors in need of disruption. Alone, you may not have the support you need to develop your idea, but these types of events help creative and diverse ideas move forward.” 

Manisha Dias, Vice President – Strategic Partnerships, SCOR
(During an interview about her experience as a SummerHack judge)

Participants of this year’s SummerHack can expect another action-packed event, complete with brand-new challenges inspired by the Artificial Intelligence theme and fantastic prizes for the top teams! 

For media, partnership, or collaboration enquires, contact Insiya Meherally, Community Manager at Insiya.Meherally@cookhouselabs.com.   

To find out more about Cookhouse Labs and how you can get involved in this year’s competition, click here.

About Cookhouse Labs  

Inspired by a test kitchen, Cookhouse Labs is a collaborative space for innovative chefs, Tastemakers and taste-testers to create recipes, infuse flavours, and experiment beyond boundaries. Our community of insurance innovators and insurtech experts is the key ingredient in the ideation process, empowering and integrating a global collection of ideas with Design Thinking to serve innovation in the insurance industry, based on a paid membership model. To learn more about Cookhouse Labs, visit: www.cookhouselabs.com.  

SummerHack 2021: New Times, New Experience [Part 7]

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!

Check out a snippet of our interview with SummerHack 2021 Judge, Zain Ibrahim!

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!

Want to stay informed about how you can join our upcoming SummerHack 2022? Join our mailing list here and receive updates straight to your inbox!

Recap: Our First Hybrid Event ft. University of Amsterdam!

Earlier this month, we ran our first-ever hybrid event in our Toronto Lab space! 

We were delighted to host an in-house day on November 3rd for a large group of students from the University of Amsterdam as part of the VSAE International Study Project 2021, where Actuarial and Econometrics students visited Toronto for a week to immerse themselves in the Canadian business world. 

Our team was very excited to welcome them — check out how we prepared the Lab space for our special guests below! 

The Setup

We had fun setting up the Lab for our special guests from The Netherlands!

As we continue to grow internationally, our team has been exploring opportunities to run hybrid events that allow participants to join both in-person and virtually. In 2020, we even invited students from the University of Applied Sciences in Würzburg-Schweinfurt, Germany (FHWS) to develop their own solution for a hybrid event model. Check out the cool robotic solution they came up with here

To test out our hybrid concept, our Lead Innovation Coach, Ibeth Ramos, led the day’s events remotely, while our Co-Founder Sven Roehl and our intern Niklas Bortzler were present in the Lab to greet the students and facilitate the on-ground activities. 

The Welcome

The student group arrived promptly at 9 AM and received a warm welcome from our in-house team. After they found their nametags and poured themselves a hot cup of coffee, the group settled in the main Lab space to begin their exciting day with us. 

Our Co-Founder Sven gave a brief introduction of Cookhouse Labs and msg global solutions, our parent company. Director of Cookhouse Labs Utrecht (The Netherlands), Rian de Heer, joined the introduction virtually from France to provide more insight into msg global solutions, beginning with the company’s origins in 1980 and how it grew to over 8500 employees in 28 countries today.  

Sven continued his presentation with a deeper dive into the history of the insurance industry, sharing challenges along the way and how Cookhouse Labs is playing a part to #MakeInsuranceBetter by facilitating innovation, collaboration, and co-creation. 

The Introduction

After a quick coffee break, Coach Ibeth gave the students a virtual introduction to Design Thinking, walking them through the fundamentals of the human-centered innovation methodology. The students were also introduced to her lovely puppies, who joined the session briefly as well! Then, they set off for a quick lunch break before they began to apply their learnings in a short sprint. 

The Sprint

The students were split into 4 teams and invited to tackle the challenge of how the insurance industry can help combat climate change. They began the first step of Design Thinking: Empathy, which required them to learn about current perspectives on insurance and climate change.  

During step two, Define, they mapped out their findings on a whiteboard empathy map. Using these key insights, the student teams defined a persona and created a journey map. For example, one team chose the persona of a 28-year-old salesperson who was inspired by a climate change documentary and mapped out the persona’s experience of getting in touch with their insurer to see how the organization could make a difference. 

Coach Ibeth continued to guide the teams, visiting each room virtually and interacting with the students as they moved to the next step, Design. The students ideated solutions they could develop within various timeframes, such as 1 week and 1 month.  

After voting on the top idea to develop, the teams dove into the next step, Create. Coach Ibeth had prepared special prototyping boxes for the students the day before their visit, with various fun materials to use during this stage, such as feathers, stickers, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks. She invited their inner child to come out and play, providing the space for them to express creativity and have fun. 

During the final step, Test, the teams presented their prototypes to each other, such as an information app and smartwatch to help customers monitor their carbon footprint. The presentations were creative, fun, and all unique — we were absolutely blown away!  

The Wrap-Up

As the clock struck 4:30 PM, we began to wrap up our in-house day with positive feedback and final comments. Co-Founder Sven and Coach Ibeth encouraged the students to always trust the Design Thinking process and to stay connected to our global community by joining future opportunities to co-create with insurance thought leaders. Our team then presented the students with special gifts ahead of the holiday season, and the whole group posed for a few photos before a little networking and final goodbyes. 

Before we concluded the day, we asked Michelle Mutsaers, who is a board member of the VSAE, to describe the in-house day experience: 

“During the in-house at Cookhouse Labs, our students learned to solve problems by using more creative and out-of-the-box thinking. The day was well-balanced with a short theoretical part and after that, immediately using this in practice. In short, it was a highly educational and fun day!” 

— Michelle Mutsaers, Board Member on the International Study Project Committee 2021 

A big thank-you to VSAE for spending a day in our innovation space, and to msg global solutions Canada for being the sponsor for the day! We enjoyed meeting and hosting the students and look forward to seeing all of you continue to achieve big things in the near future! 

Want to be the first to hear about our next young talent event? Join our community and receive updates directly to your inbox! 

SummerHack 2021: New Times, New Experience [Part 6]

In the next part of our series, I sat down with Si XIe, Head of Financial Planning and Insights at HSBC Pinnacle Venture and a 2-time ideathon Judge (SummerHack 2020 and 2021). We discussed the highlights of this year’s global competition, the ingredients to a great pitch, and what teams at SummerHack 2022 can do to win our big prize!

Check out a snippet of our interview with SummerHack 2021 Judge, Si Xie!

Si, thank you for your continuous support of our global Design Thinking ideathons! We’re curious to know, what inspired you to return to the jury panel this year?

First and foremost, the energy and creativity from the participants as they worked together to solve a real industry challenge. I often see many unconventional ideas at these events that even I, as a long-term participant, would not have dreamt about. With my experience over the last two years of helping HSBC set up a digitally enabled financial planning business from the ground up, I have a lot of appreciation for thinking differently.

Speaking of perspectives and thinking differently, you have the unique experience of being both a participant at one of our ideathons and a judge at two more. What is the one thing about the participant experience that you wish that judges and audience members knew more about?

Innovation is like a muscle that you need to constantly exercise to become better and stronger at it. Design Thinking is a great methodology that has proven to be successful. However, this process does require many iterations, and can feel quite unnatural and difficult at first — at least, it was for me initially. No challenge is easy, and sometimes things don’t go well during the journey, but I was also amazed at the result. As a judge, I would want fellow judges and audience members to appreciate how much work the participant has to do during the event.

Now, using your judge lens, what do you wish that participants knew about the judge’s perspective in these events?

It’s equally challenging for the judges, and we often deliberate for long periods of time to decide on the winner. So, if your idea did not win, it does not mean that is not a great idea. There can only be one winning solution, but we see so many great ideas from the teams.

That’s a very valuable insight for our participants! Staying with your judge lens, what do you enjoy most about being on the panel of our ideathons?

It really helps me think outside the box and see what opportunities are out there. From an international perspective, I draw from the inspiration and bring it back to my day-to-day work as well. Since I work for one of the biggest organizations in the world, exposing myself to different global problems and solutions helps with my job and career development and for me, that’s very valuable.

Focusing on the inspiration and ideas, which pitch stood out most to you and more importantly, why did it stand out to you?

The most memorable solution for me was by Team SaveMoney. Their solution helped restaurants find a reliable local supply chain, which in turn, also opens credit related insurance opportunities. It was a very creative idea that not only fit with the theme of reducing ecological footprint, but also it created product opportunities for the insurer. The possibilities are limitless; it can apply to different cities and different countries, and I appreciate that kind of out-of-the-box thinking.

Reflecting on your entire experience at our ideathons, what are three pieces of advice that you can offer teams looking to win next year?

From a participant’s lens, as long as you improve your innovation skills by going through the process, it is already a win. To get the most out of the event, be open-minded and be prepared to work hard, because it isn’t easy. And lastly, set up a team with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, because this will maximize the chances of coming up with a more creative idea.

Final question: How can an event like SummerHack help #MakeInsuranceBetter for everybody in the global community?

It gives us an opportunity to challenge our own ways of thinking and to open our minds to new ideas, such as new forms of risk, new solutions, or new operating models that perhaps we had never thought of before. I often think about this; Instead of letting tech giants disrupt our industry, why don’t we reinvent ourselves? Why not disrupt ourselves? So, this event is great because sparks ideas to solve our own problems in the industry.

Si, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and valuable advice with our community. We wish you all the best with your venture and we hope to see you again at SummerHack 2022!

SummerHack 2021: New Times, New Experience [Part 5]

In the next part of our series, I sat down with Max Bachem, 2-time judge (WinterHack 2020 and SummerHack 2021) and CEO at Coya. We discussed what inspired him to return to our jury panel, why diversity was the highlight of the competition, and his advice for teams looking to win the top prize next year!

Check out a snippet of our interview with SummerHack 2021 Judge, Max Bachem!

Max, thank you for returning as a judge this year! We’d love to know, what inspired you to return, and what do you enjoy most about the role?

I really enjoyed my first time on the panel last year, while I was still at AXA. What was amazing was just networking with all the teams, hearing innovative ideas from across the globe, and being able to discuss new opportunities with people who have a completely different perspective. Often, we might have a local view on a challenge, and it’s great meeting people with different ways of looking at the same problem.

Compared to your experience at WinterHack 2020, what do you think has changed or improved since last time?

The teams were even more diverse this year! Last year, a lot of teams were from Europe and North America, and this year we had people from APAC, EMEA, and the Americas, which I loved. All this diversity meant we had very different ideas on the table this time.

And out of those ideas at the Final Pitch Event, which one stood out to you and more importantly, why did it stand out to you?

I’m very happy for the Winner and the Runner-Up, both of whom had amazing ideas. I have to say though, it was really hard to decide on the winners because there were a lot of amazing ideas. Some were more innovative, and others were more applicable, but I loved all the ideas because they all had an interesting aspect to them. One that stands out to me was a solution from HDI in Germany, which had this tool to scrape social media and stay connected to the customer. Some of the other ideas were very visionary, even ahead of time, but interesting to keep in mind because they might be something to implement in 1-2 years.

After attending the Final Pitch Event and seeing other pitches during your career, what is the best way to create a successful pitch?

The most important thing is to think about the audience. What is the audience interested in? What is the right amount of detail to share? If you create a good story, you can easily hook the audience. During the ideathon, you have very limited time. You may not be able to think through the idea 100%, but it doesn’t need to be fully thought through. Your approach should be “Hey, I have a good base idea, and maybe we need to tweak it a bit afterward, but there is some truth and high potential behind it”, and that will help you convince the judges.

What additional advice can you offer incoming teams for SummerHack 2022?

Just have fun! Sure, you’ll come up with new ideas, but it’s a fun team-building activity and you should enjoy the time you spend exchanging ideas with other people. That would be my biggest recommendation; have fun, because while you’re having fun, you’re probably coming up with great ideas and you’ll make a great pitch at the end.

We’re hoping you had fun as a judge, as well! How would you describe your overall experience at SummerHack?

My own experience was very positive. Both the WinterHack and SummerHack were well-organized! You brought together very diverse teams this year, and it was a pleasure to not only see the ideas, but network with those teams afterwards, as well.

Final question for you: How can an event like SummerHack can help #MakeInsuranceBetter for the global community?

You brought together these diverse teams that likely see different customer problems in their respective markets, whether they’re emerging markets or those that are more developed. These perspectives and solutions can be relevant in other markets or inspire other solutions that you would have never thought were possible for specific markets. These events enable a transfer of knowledge, experience, and ideas that in the end will help to create new, innovative, and better products for customers, which is what we are aiming for.

Max, 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 again at SummerHack 2022!

SummerHack 2021: New Times, New Experience [Part 4]

In the next part of our series, I sat down with Nicole Schepanek, a SummerHack 2021 judge and Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Aureus Capital. We discussed her experience as a first-time judge, highlights from the global competition, and what advice she could offer teams at SummerHack 2022 to win big next year!

Check out a snippet of our interview with SummerHack 2021 Judge, Nicole Schepanek!

Nicole, thank you for joining us as a judge this year! We’d love to know, what inspired you to get involved with the event?

I really enjoy working with other experts and helping them think about what new ways are to innovate in the insurance industry. It’s at the core of my being. I love when different people from different parts of the industry around the world come together at these events, and that instills the spirit of innovation.

We’re grateful to have had you onboard this year! Not only did you judge the pitches, but you also joined the networking sessions, something new we added this year. What did you enjoy about your networking experience?

It’s interesting to learn more about the different viewpoints that global participants bring to these events, because it leads to fascinating discussions. It’s crucial to understand those viewpoints. We rarely see people working in insurance and those from other industries come together to think over and beyond the insurance spectrum. Too often, the insurance industry thinks within its box, rather than looking beyond. So, I enjoy the diversity and discussions at these events.

Now, coming to your perspective as a judge, what was your favorite solution from the Final Pitch Event? Why did it stand out to you?

All of them were great, to start, and were inspiring on different levels. Foresters really focused on the gig economy, and that’s both a big trend and challenge for us as an industry. I liked that they really put the customer first and thought about the gig workers’ needs. This was one of the more-developed solutions we saw, and they pitched with great spirit and energy when showcasing their solution.

After seeing these 12 pitches and other pitches within your career, what are a few key ingredients to creating a successful pitch?

Tell a story. Explain the challenge, opportunity, or problem you’re trying to solve. Why is it a problem? What’s our USP? Why can we solve it when no one else can solve it? It’s also crucial to think about what it takes to create a network effect and keep customers coming to you, rather than to someone else

What additional advice can you offer teams going into SummerHack 2022?

Focus on the fun! Be natural and enjoy the experience that comes with different viewpoints coming together to refine your ideas. I think it’s a really exciting event, and everyone that participates learns something, but should also enjoy themselves at the same time.

Drawing on your experience as a first-time judge, how would you describe it overall?

It was awesome! A big thumbs up to Cookhouse Labs and InsurLab Germany. What I really liked about it was that people from different dimensions of the ecosystem come together. Everyone is really excited and there is a great exchange of ideas, even beyond the event.

Continuing that thought, how do you think an event like SummerHack can help #MakeInsuranceBetter for everyone?

You bring together folks with different perspectives from the industry, and often they talk and exchange ideas. As an investor, I hear pitches all the time, but it’s very much one-sided. Here, people come together without a specific siloed focus, per se. Through this, we can innovate more openly. As a second step, thinking about the business model in detail and what kind of backing would be best for the ideas is crucial in order to execute them.

Nicole, 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 again at SummerHack 2022!