SummerHack 2021: New Times, New Experience [Part 1]

SummerHack 2021 Winner

Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with our SummerHack 2021 winner, Team Foresters. I asked the team to share behind-the-scenes stories and advice from their innovation experience — check out the full interview below! 

Check out a snippet of the interview with our winner, Team Foresters! 

Team Foresters, congratulations on your big win at SummerHack 2021! Before we dive into the event, let’s do a quick round of introductions first. 

Raresh: I’m Raresh Bunea, a Contract Administrator at Foresters Financial. I handle contracts for sales distribution in the Canadian market. This is my second time participating in a Cookhouse Labs ideathon, for which I’m very grateful. It was an amazing experience this time around, as it was the first time around! 

Liam: Hi, I’m Liam Kinnon. I’m a Marketing Specialist with Foresters. This is my first time participating in one of these events and it was a blast. 

Ravinder: My name is Ravinder Sabharwal and I’m a Control Analyst and it was my first time participating in SummerHack. 

Sandra: I’m Sandra Viteri, Senior Underwriting Manager. It was my first time participating in one of these events. I loved it! 

Brian: I’m Brian Cournoyer and my title is Manager, Advanced Markets & Training. This is also my first time participating and it definitely was a great experience that I can’t wait to repeat. 

And we’d love to have you back next year for sure! It would be awesome to see if you could pull it off twice, but before we even talk about next year, let’s talk about this year and hear from the team. What inspired you to get involved this time?  

Sandra: I noticed that there is a lot of disruption happening right now, and of course, it was long overdue in the insurance industry. At Foresters, we’re embracing that change. We’ve been going through a lot of transformation, with new technologies and innovative products. So, for me, this was an opportunity to participate and sharpen my skills in Design Thinking and innovation methodology, especially after reviewing last year’s topics. I felt they provided interesting and relevant challenges, applicable to today’s world. So, I just thought, “This is great. This is perfect”, and went for it. 

After you made the decision to join SummerHack, you pulled together really a big team. We’d love to know; how did you prepare? 

Brian: That’s a great question! Obviously, we don’t want to give away all our secrets because as you mentioned, we have a title to defend. Before the competition, we reviewed what the team did last year, but more importantly, we identified areas together that we felt we could improve upon to be better prepared for this year. Some of us were new to the competition, me included. So, after those conversations I reviewed the material again and I did some research to make sure I would be able to offer the right support to the team during the event. On a personal level, I made sure that all my priorities outside of this event were already taken care of so that when the competition was on, I wasn’t going to be distracted and instead could help my team build a winning strategy. 

Wow! It’s always amazing to see the energy and dedication Foresters brings to the competition every year. So, we ‘ve talked about pulling together a big team and about making team decisions. The question now is, which of the four challenges did you select as a team and then ultimately, what was the solution that you decided to pitch? 

Liam: We voted on challenge #4 to develop a solution or service to support dynamic and engaged independent workers. While walking through the process and through interviewing a freelance designer, we discovered that one of the challenges of the gig economy is the lack of benefits. Using the Design Thinking methodology that Cookhouse was walking us through as part of the hackathon, we came up with a solution called GigLife, which is a benefits platform for the gig community. We thought of a platform providing health benefits funded through a combination of participation fees and perhaps through the unique use of group life insurance. We realized that perhaps benefits could be provided to participants by purchasing a life insurance policy and advancing a portion of the death benefit to cover the costs of the benefits, legalities to be considered of course. Then, the other part of it that we were excited about was that there isn’t really any group advocacy for the gig community. We wanted to include a social component in the GigLife app, which would allow a space for advocacy to form organically. 

That is a really well-thought-out solution. And it wasn’t just a judge favorite, it was also a crowd favorite because you were awarded People’s Choice for the Americas. So, in your opinion, what was it about the solution that made it a crowd favorite? 

Raresh: I think it was our consideration for building an advocacy community for gig workers and the simplicity of how benefits can be accessed via the paid participation. 

Considering nowadays everyone is working remotely, it’s pretty cool that you thought about all of this.  So, thinking back now to your entire SummerHack 2021 experience, how was it? 

Ravinder: Overall, it was indeed a great learning experience for all of us. Design Thinking was a concept that I had heard about, but this platform gave me an opportunity to practice it. One thing that stood out to me was coming together as a team and working through a structured methodology to deliver a customer-focused solution, and all within two days, wow! Talking about GigLife, it’s more than a digital solution — it is our responsibility towards the community we live in and that is what matters. I sincerely thank Foresters Financial and Cookhouse Labs for this wonderful opportunity.  

Well, we thank you for coming back every year with all this energy and an incredible game plan! Speaking of coming back, we’re very curious to know; how has the ideathon concept, environment, and energy evolved and improved since last time? 

Raresh: For me, the energy level was much higher, and I also set higher expectations for myself this time around. Adding Joolia (the virtual innovation assistant tool) helped us stay on track with deliverables and helped us keep an eye on the time.  

And now looking back at your experience, what advice would you give teams who will soon be participating in SummerHack 2022? 

Raresh: I would suggest teams consider a holistic approach that considers both a feasible business model and the natural economic reality. There’s a trend in the expansion of the safety net. There’s talk about UBI, UBS, and Pharmacare in Canada, as well as climate crisis developments and trends towards the green economy. More and more countries are aligning themselves to IPCC recommendations to eliminate carbon emissions. I believe that solutions that come from the insurance industry will also need to adapt accordingly to all these realities. 

Liam: I was a bit nervous at first because we had a four minute limit on the video and we only hit two minutes. I thought, “Oh, did we not communicate enough?” and so I was thrilled when we were chosen as a winner. I realized that you just need to explain your concept as clearly and succinctly as possible and the length doesn’t really matter— what’s important is the story. I would also say that you should construct a narrative around your solution. That’ll give you a leg up in terms of how to position your solution to the challenge. 

Brian: It’s important that you put the judges’ hat on once you formulate your idea. You must step back and say, “Now if I was a judge, what type of questions would I ask?” This way, when those questions are asked, you’re prepared to answer them. That helps you build the strategy upfront so that it includes all those details. Stepping back and reevaluating helped our team and then from there, we made sure we had a solid plan to deliver to the judges. 

Final question for the team now: As you know, Cookhouse Labs is all about making insurance better and that’s the objective of these types of events. So, in your opinion, how can an event like SummerHack help make insurance better for the global community? 

 
Sandra: I see SummerHack as a practice arena to develop new skills, learn Design Thinking techniques, and simply to inspire us to be more creative. My hope would be that it translates into impactful change in the industry that makes insurance easier and better for everybody. For most of us, that’s basically what we hope to achieve, so this is a great platform for that. 

With a solution like GigLife, you’re helping people that want to be included in insurance benefits, so you definitely did what you set out to do. You took a very big step towards making insurance better for gig workers, so thank you Team Foresters and congratulations once again on your big win! 

Curious about our ideathons? Check out our past ideathons, winning solutions, and team interviews here! 

Summer Bootcamp 2021 Final Presentation [Aug 12]

This is a VIP, closed virtual event. Only members with access who are working closely with each student team and the team will present their final solution and participate in a live Q&A session with organization members only.

Summer Bootcamp 2021 [Aug 10-11]

We are excited to have our members be part of Cookhouse Labs’ first Summer Bootcamp in collaboration with University of Toronto, Dept. Statistical Sciences. Over 2 days of unforgettable insurance innovation, we will support our member organizations in finding a solution to an existing challenge they currently face in their organization.

Startup Bites: Meet the Young Chefs [Part 6]

Startup Bites CoverGo

We’re excited to continue our series, “Startup Bites: Meet the Young Chefs”, where Co-Founder Sven Roehl sits down with founders of startups to chat about their exciting solutions and how they’re on track to make big waves in the insurance world.  

In today’s blog, Sven sat down with CoverGo, the winner of our Startup Pitch Specials: China event. The Hong Kong-based startup is the proud provider of a configurable no-code platform that allows insurers to build any type of insurance product within days. Founded in 2016, their 30+ enterprise clients across 3 continents come mainly from the insurance industry, including P&C, life, and health. CoverGo’s solution makes it possible for insurance to be 100% digital, allowing insurers to be agile and stay relevant in the changing global market.  

Check out what we learned about CoverGo below! 

We also interviewed CoverGo in our April 2021 Food for Thought live session — here’s a highlight from the event!

Their Incredible Journey So Far 

Over 4 years ago, Tomas and his business partner moved to Hong Kong with no local connections. They spent 3 years developing insurance APIs instead of going to market immediately. Since then, they have grown the CoverGo team to 40+ people and have signed clients from around the world, including the U.S. and Canada. Even as we spoke to Tomas and Julien, we could see the many awards and trophies CoverGo has won in the background — very exciting! 

Their Biggest Challenge?  

Enterprise sales in one of the most traditional industries!  

Tech startups often face the challenge of building trust with corporate giants and gaining support from traditional companies. The first client is always the hardest one to onboard, but since then, CoverGo has grown exponentially into other parts of the world and is working with clients that are excited to welcome the innovative software solution.

So, How Does CoverGo Help Insurers? 

CoverGo understands the industry’s pain points: legacy systems, tons of paperwork, and manual processes. While it is clear that insurers want to improve this, they do not know where to start. CoverGo specializes in helping insurers, MGAs, and banks make insurance 100% digital in order for them to better serve their customers, which in turn helps insurers reduce costs and increase revenue.  

Here are the 4 ways CoverGo helps insurers:

  • Build and launch products faster 
  • Enable omni-channel distribution
  • Improve policy, admin, and claims management 
  • Integration to any system and can operate on top of existing legacy systems 

While competitors take months to develop new products, CoverGo achieves this for their clients in just weeks! 

Our Favorite Things About CoverGo’s Solution 

1. CoverGo recognizes that off-the-shelf solutions are too generic to cater to insurer’s individual requirements, and so they tailor their solution specifically to each client’s needs

2. With 500+ APIs, the startup can quickly help insurers to scale the solution to add phase 2, 3, etc. 

3. Users can use drag and drop product components in the visual product builder to build and launch their new insurance products in hours with APIs auto-generated — no code required! 

Bonus: How CoverGo Adds Value to the IT Department 

CoverGo is not looking to replace in-house IT departments. In fact, IT teams can take CoverGo’s system and can enhance it, build on top, and even use CoverGo’s APIs to build new applications. This allows insurers to retain the power internally instead of relying on third parties to manage the software for them and empowers users to focus more on value-added tasks.. 

After witnessing CoverGo’s solution in action, we can see why the judges voted for this innovative startup as the winner of our Startup Pitch Specials: China! We wish CoverGo all the best as they continue to grow internationally and looking forward to welcoming the team back for future events! 

Food for Thought [Coming Soon]

Food for Thought event

Details to be announced soon!

Stay up-to-date with the latest InsurTech trends, hear valuable insights from industry trailblazers, and discover up-and-coming startups in our brand-new 45-minute webinar series!

Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 9:15 am EDT | 2:30 – 3:15 pm CEST
Location: Online

* By registering for this event, you are automatically welcomed into our community! You will receive exclusive event invitations and innovation opportunities from Cookhouse Labs via our mailing list — don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!

Food for Thought [Coming Soon]

Food for Thought event

Details to be announced soon!

Stay up-to-date with the latest InsurTech trends, hear valuable insights from industry trailblazers, and discover up-and-coming startups in our brand-new 45-minute webinar series!

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 9:15 am EDT | 2:30 – 3:15 pm CEST
Location: Online

* By registering for this event, you are automatically welcomed into our community! You will receive exclusive event invitations and innovation opportunities from Cookhouse Labs via our mailing list — don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!

Food for Thought [Coming Soon]

Food for Thought event

Details to be announced soon!

Stay up-to-date with the latest InsurTech trends, hear valuable insights from industry trailblazers, and discover up-and-coming startups in our brand-new 45-minute webinar series!

Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 9:15 am EDT | 2:30 – 3:15 pm CEST
Location: Online

* By registering for this event, you are automatically welcomed into our community! You will receive exclusive event invitations and innovation opportunities from Cookhouse Labs via our mailing list — don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!

Food for Thought ft. msg.Digital — Speed Up Your Digital Transformation

Food for Thought ft msg digital

Stay up-to-date with the latest InsurTech trends, hear valuable insights from industry trailblazers, and discover up-and-coming startups in our brand-new 45-minute webinar series!

Insurance customers expect self-service and 24/7 availability, which they are used to from other industries like retail. On top of this, insurers need to evolve from pure risk takers into risk preventers. The combination of these two trends requires strengthening direct sales and services channels as well as the ability to bundle insurance products with value adding and risk preventing products or services.

In our upcoming session, we are excited to welcome Thomas Strasser, Head of Business Unit Customer Experience at msg.Digital, to learn about the Financial Services Accelerator. Based on SAP Commerce Cloud, it provides insurers with all needed capabilities to establish a direct sales and services channel for their customers, such as quotation and purchase, customer 360, customer inbox and inquiry, as well as reporting of claims and changing to policies. Moreover, being based on a modern Commerce Platform, they support personalization as well as the ability to bundle insurance products with other products and services.

You won’t want to miss this — sign up below to learn more about how you can leverage msg.Digital’s incredible solution!

Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 9:15 am EDT | 2:30 – 3:15 pm CEST
Location: Online

* By registering for this event, you are automatically welcomed into our community! You will receive exclusive event invitations and innovation opportunities from Cookhouse Labs via our mailing list — don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!

Food for Thought ft. Doccle — The Most Secure Data Vault for Your Customers

Food for Thought ft Doccle

Stay up-to-date with the latest InsurTech trends, hear valuable insights from industry trailblazers, and discover up-and-coming startups in our brand-new 45-minute webinar series!

In our upcoming Food for Thought session, we’re excited to welcome Otto Lagemaat, Director of Doccle Netherlands. Doccle is a digital platform and personal data vault where more than 2 million people handle and store documents safely from a wide range of companies, including insurers, real estate, and government. Here’s what Doccle enables your customers to do:

· Pay, share and sign your documents easily
· Access your documents anywhere via the computer, smartphone or tablet
· Receive automatic notifications with each new document you send them
· Access your company portal easily, increasing traffic to your site by up to 14%

Doccle empowers insurers to cut costs and enhance your services by offering your customers an easy way to organize and manage an overwhelming amount of paperwork. With more than 100 partnerships and more than 100 million documents sent each year, Doccle is the market leader in Belgium and is growing fast internationally.

You won’t want to miss this — sign up below to learn more about how you can leverage Doccle’s incredible digital solution!

Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 9:15 am EDT | 2:30 – 3:15 pm CEST
Location: Online

* By registering for this event, you are automatically welcomed into our community! You will receive exclusive event invitations and innovation opportunities from Cookhouse Labs via our mailing list — don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe later!