Food for Thought ft. TickFresh: Leverage Big Data & IoT to Create New Insurance Products!

Food for Thought ft TickFresh

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!

What if you had the opportunity to leverage on multiple data touchpoints to inspire new insurance products for unserved areas?

In our upcoming Food for Thought live session, we’re excited to showcase our second Startup Pitch Specials: China winner, TickFresh! We’ll be welcoming Co-Founders Simon Chan (General Manager) and Andy Lau (InsurTech Advisor) and hearing their experience with launching TickFresh. We’ll also be treated to a live demo of their innovative digital solution that leverages Big Data and IoT to create insurance product opportunities for unserved areas in the fresh food supply chain!

Tickfresh is an IoT platform providing a PaaS solution by means of mobile apps and web portal. The solution connects suppliers and buyers with data and links up ordering, fulfilment, logistics and payment processes to benefit both buy-and-sell with cutting edge technologies. The startup has created an end-to-end digital marketplace to connect hundreds of restaurants to fresh food suppliers, providing insurers the opportunity to make use of multiple data touchpoints to inspire new credit insurance products.

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

Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Time: 8:15 – 9:00 am EDT | 2:15 – 3:00 pm CEST
Location: Virtual Worldwide

* 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!

Digital Ecosystems in Insurance: Putting the Modern Customer First

With less than 2 weeks before we kickoff WinterHack 2020, it’s time to talk about this year’s theme: Digital Ecosystems. Today, we discuss the concept behind digital ecosystems, why they matter, and how they can benefit insurers who are looking to thrive in the digital era.

What is a digital ecosystem?

Simply put, a digital ecosystem is a network of companies, their customers, and third-party service providers that share digital platforms. These stakeholders combine their offerings to provide services more efficiently, thereby creating greater value for all their customers. Digital ecosystems integrate several industries, allowing participating companies to create targeted products that are better tailored to changing customer needs and preferences.

Why are digital ecosystems important?

Customer expectations are rapidly changing — and providers must evolve in order to keep up with these changes.

Modern customers want customized insurance products, and they want these offerings to be available immediately. They want transactions with their provider to be smooth, quick, and simple. They want the best possible value for the price they pay. And they want to be able to trust their provider to protect their personal data.

In a digital ecosystem, insurers partner with digital service providers to create cross-industry product and service offerings that capitalize on technological capabilities to serve these customer expectations. These ecosystems enable insurers to quickly modify products and services based on changing customer preferences. By collaborating with experts in other fields, the insurer can create true customer value in an efficient, cost-effective, and mutually beneficial way — which is the first step towards building a long-term relationship directly with the customer.

How can you benefit from digital ecosystems?

According to a report published by Accenture in 2019, insurers who do not quickly respond to these changes will miss out on growth opportunities worth USD $177 billion over the next five years.

Collaborations through digital ecosystems allow companies to scale faster than if they stood alone. For example, access to partners’ technological resources makes it easier to roll out new offerings quickly. These cross-industry partnerships provide opportunities for insurers in local and global markets and expand into new sectors by offering complementary products and services with already-trusted partner brands.

Data aggregated from these combined products can be used to generate new leads and lower operational costs, McKinsey says, as well as create targeted products with increased value. It further suggests that insurers can use this data to offer risk assessment, predictive modelling, and other analytics capabilities as a service to partners in the ecosystem.

Insurers must move quickly to adopt a more active role in their customers’ daily lives. By shifting to a digital ecosystem strategy, these insurers can improve product offerings, distribution, and customer relationships while capitalizing on collaboration opportunities that can take them well beyond borders and into a whole new era of globally focused growth.

Wondering how you can adopt digital ecosystems in your insurance organization?

At WinterHack 2020, our Certified Innovation Experts will guide your team through the Design Thinking methodology to help you create an innovative solution around our “Digital Ecosystems” challenges. At the end of the Ideathon, pitch your solution to our esteemed panel of judges and global audience for a chance to win our big prize!

Limited spots remain — sign your team up here!

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!

SummerHack 2020: A Race Against the Clock (Part 2)

In the next part of our series, I had the pleasure to chat with Team ABC, our 1st Place winners at SummerHack 2020. I spoke with Rachel FermoPrinsa Gandhi, and JiaQi Zhao about their experiences as first-time Hackers and how they worked together to come up with their winning idea. 

Team ABC’S winning solution: Smart Tooth, a device glued on to any tooth that transmits different waves in the radio frequency spectrum to detect and measure the calories consumed. An embedded small Bluetooth radio wirelessly transmits data to the app, Byte. Users can redeem rewards for healthy living in the form of reduced insurance premiums.

Rachel, Prinsa, and JiaQi, thank you so much for joining us today, and congratulations on conquering your first hackathonBefore we dive into your winning solution and your experiencelet’s do a quick intro about yourselves. 

Rachel: I’m going into my third year at the University of Toronto, and I am studying Actuarial Science and Statistics, possibly with a minor in Math. Eventually, I want to become an actuary in Canada. I’m not exactly sure which area to go into, possibly Life and Health, but they say it depends on your first internship!  

Prinsa: I’m also going into my third year at U of T. I’m a double major in Actuarial Science and Statistics, working towards a minor in Math. I also want to become an actuary. I am interested in Property and Casualty, but I’m not sure yet either. 

JiaQiI’m going into Actuarial Science, and I also study Computer Science. I’m hoping to get a minor in Statistics or Economics.  
 

In line with that, what inspired you to join SummerHack 2020? 

Rachel: We get emails from our Statistics department about opportunities related to Statistics, and we got an email invite to SummerHack. We said, “Why not, it sounds really fun and it’s something we can put on our resume for experience”! It was a learning opportunity, and that’s why we wanted to join.  

Prinsa: Initially, we were pretty nervous about it! When we went to the Slack webpage, there seemed to be a lot of older participants from the insurance industry, so we joined for the experience.  

JiaQi: We thought, “Let’s just try it. No matter how it goes, at least we tried our best”.  
 

As first-time Hackers, how did you prepare for the 24-hour event? 

Rachel: The first thing we did after hearing about it is that we tried to search up definitions, because we didn’t really know what IoT was. The Cookhouse Labs team also released prep videos, which Prinsa watched and shared notes about, and that’s how we prepared for it. 

Prinsa: We received videos and articles from our Mentor on Slack, so we read those. We also saw the guide you posted about Design Thinking in 24 hours with time stamps, so we read that and watched the videos you shared.  

JiaQi: We worked with our Mentor, David Schraub, who shared definitions, videos, and articles, and we asked him a bunch of questions. That was really helpful! 
 

So, which of the three challenges did you pick, and why did you choose that challenge?  

Rachel: We ended up picking the challenge about overcoming obesity. We each decided to research a challenge, and then come together with our notes and ideas to see which ones would work. Overcoming obesity was the soundest one, so we choose that challenge.  

PrinsaWhen you released the challenges, we had a discussion with our Mentor and he explained each topic in the real industry and how it works. Then, we split up and found ideas for each topic. We chose obesity because we had the most ideas for it.  

JiaQi: We had to choose between small business bankruptcy mitigation, overcoming obesity, and mobility. We had the idea of an app and we tried linking each challenge to it. We wanted a solution that was possible to implement but was also original.  
 

Once you choose a challenge, how did you go about developing your solution? 

I asked Team ABC to walk me through the process of developing their solution using Design Thinking.

Rachel: First, we came up with our idea through research around overcoming obesity and insurance. We talked about our idea with our Mentor, and he gave us ideas about how to further develop the idea. Our idea was a Smart tooth, so we asked, “How do we link that to insurance?” We decided to add an app to our solution and reduce insurance premiums, and so on.  

Prinsa: We followed the guide on Design Thinking, and when we decided on overcoming obesity, we did the survey research part on Google. We had a meeting with our mentor, and he told us to think of a specific target group, since this solution wouldn’t work for everyone. So, we created a persona, and we went ahead with it.  

JiaQi: When we met with our Mentor, he told us that it was best to choose a target group first, and then create our solution around it.  
 

You mentioned your Mentor, David, helped you quite a bit. Could you tell us more about how he supported you throughout your journey? 

Rachel: He was really helpful, because he would notice things that we wouldn’t, like what we should focus on and what we should include in our presentation. He would give us research articles and things to think about when we were researching our idea. We definitely attribute our success to how he helped us throughout.  

Prinsa: He also thought about the business side, which we didn’t really think about. He gave us a lot of advice on how insurance really works in the real world, such as pricing. He would join our Zoom call every two hours and would give us suggestions on what would work and what wouldn’t. 

JiaQi: He gave us a lot of insights and examples of how internet of things is currently used in insurance. It helped us develop our idea of Smart tooth and link it better to insurance. As we were developing our concept, on our zoom call, he can always bring something new on the table and help us make our solution better. We couldn’t have done this without his support.  
 

You mentioned that your idea was an IoTpowered Smart tooth. Could you tell us more about the concept behind it? 

Rachel: It’s a tiny piece of metal glued to your tooth, and depending on what nutrient it absorbs, the metal shifts its electrochemical properties. You can transmit the information from the tooth to your phone, and you can view the data on the app. It’s easily accessible compared to calorie counters that exist right now, where you have to manually input the numbers, which can be inaccurate. Our way was to make it easier for people to access the information and make it helpful for insurance companies, because you can give that information to insurance companies and it will be an incentive to reduce your insurance premiums for healthy living.  

Prinsa: When we researched our personas, we found that a common problem with health apps was that the customer didn’t have time to input information. The Smart tooth would automatically tell you the calories that you consumed, so it makes the process a lot easier.  

JiaQi: In Design Thinking, we were told to put ourselves in place of the person who would be using the app, and we learned that it wasn’t that people didn’t care about what they were eating; it was that they didn’t have time. This method was very helpful! 
 

What do you think contributed to your success in winning 1st Place at SummerHack 2020?

Rachel: I think our idea was really creative! Personally, I was really impressed with all the work that we accomplished in 24 hours. A big part of our success was that we worked together; this was our first time working together and we all knew what we had to do! We communicated with each other the whole day and we didn’t leave the Zoom call until we finished it and recorded our presentation. Only then did we fall asleep!  

Prinsa: We were always on the Zoom call working together, always discussing our ideas. 

JiaQi: Listening to each other’s ideas really helped. Rachel came up with the idea for the Smart tooth, we added to it, and that’s how it became the final solution.  

How would you describe the overall experience at the event? 

Rachel: We had never done anything like this before! When we heard that we had 3 minutes to pitch our ideas, we always had that in the back of our minds. We recorded the video a couple of times so that it was under 3 minutes. We were pretty good go-getters and we didn’t back down from the challenge. We continued the whole way through.  

Prinsa: It was a fun experience because it had to do with real life industry issues. While working on the solution, we were completely interested in it because we felt as if we were working on something that was meaningful. It was super fun! 

JiaQi: I really liked it, especially because it was 24 hours. Prior to us doing that, I would have never thought that we could create something in such little time. The fact that we actually did it has made me more confident in doing hackathons now! 

As you know, WinterHack 2020 is coming up in November! As our 1st Place team, what advice would you give incoming students for the next event? 

Rachel: If you’re a student, you might be taken aback by the 24-hours and not know what to do. If you take advice from your mentor, that will be really helpful for you. It’s not always about winning; it’s also about learning, so have fun while you’re doing the hackathon! 

Prinsa: I would say, don’t be scared or nervous about what you can contribute! Just enjoy the experience, because you’ll end up learning a lot. That’s why we went into this — we wanted to have a cool experience.  

JiaQi: Don’t overthink it! I’m sure all of the participants were nervous but it went really well. It always goes better than you expect! 
 

Final question: How do you think that an event like this can make insurance better? 

Rachel: In an event like this, you have to be really creative and think outside the box. The ideas that you come up with are ideas that people don’t normally think about. By doing this, we have ideas that didn’t previously exist and can really help insurance.  

Prinsa: The challenges that we were given made us think from the consumer’s point of view. We did what we thought the consumer would want and it really helped in the end. 

JiaQi: I think that gathering people from different countries, industries, and experience brings much more diversity and different perspectives on tackling a problem. I believe that an event like this can bring new insights and ideas in insurance.  

Team ABC, thank you so much for your time and congratulations once again on your big win at SummerHack 2020! 

We’re gearing up for our next global hackathon, WinterHack 2020. To stay informed about the event, follow us on LinkedIn!

SummerHack 2020: A Race Against the Clock (Part 1)

Summerhack Mentor interview

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down virtually with David Schraub, a Staff Fellow at the Society of Actuaries and the Mentor of our 1st Place team at our 24-Hour Global SummerHack 2020. During the interview, David discussed how his team developed their winning solution and shared advice on how teams at our upcoming WinterHack 2020 can replicate this success.

Thank you, David, for joining us — not only for the interview, but as a SummerHack 2020 Mentor to a student team. Congratulations on your team’s big win! We would love to hear about your experience as a Mentor, but before we do, let’s start with a quick introduction about you.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate! It was my first hackathon and my first interaction with Cookhouse Labs, and I had a lot of fun. Now, about me — I’m a French actuary that moved to the U.S. about 17 years ago and became an American actuary. I’m currently working for the Society of Actuaries (SOA), helping advance professional design and continuing education programs. My background is in Life Insurance; I focused on the ERM and investments side. Now, I’m working on predictive analytics and InsurTech initiatives that bring the SOA and actuaries to the forefront of innovation.

David Schraub and Insiya Meherally during the virtual interview.

Thank you for that introduction, David! Our students loved having such an experienced Mentor guide them throughout the event. Tell me, what inspired you to mentor a student team?

A member of the Cookhouse Labs team reached out to me with the opportunity to mentor a group of actuarial students, and I became curious about the innovation process and the event itself. So, it was the curiosity, the potential for disruption, and the question, “What can we create in 24 hours?” I wanted to find out!

How did you go about engaging and preparing your team for the hackathon?

We started with an introductory call to get to know each other. The Events Team also suggested using this call to align on how Mentors and students would stay in touch during the event. I was interested in learning about the students’ backgrounds and what they wanted to get out of the experience. They were interested in Data Science and Internet of Things. In advance of the 24-hour period, I shared related articles and background reads to clarify a few concepts and help them prepare.

What process did your team undergo to develop the solution?

The Events Team spelled out a very good process with milestones that we had no reason to challenge — the Design Thinking methodology. Our team started by sharing ideas on each of the 3 challenges given and decided on the first one, Overcoming Obesity. We created a detailed Persona to help us understand the target market. We discussed the size of the target market and the expected profitability of a product. Your product doesn’t have to be relevant to everybody, so long as your target market is large enough to generate a profit. You may have a small group of people that are extremely interested in one topic, and you may be able to build a completely viable product for them. After we had a Persona, we defined their interests and disposable income. We then went about developing a solution, and the next step (if we had time) would have been to develop a business plan around it.

We’re very excited to hear Design Thinking helped your team create their solution around Overcoming Obesity! Could you briefly describe the concept behind the solution?

We came up with an IoT-backed tooth with sensors to monitor what you eat. For example, it can count the calories you consume or your snack times. Let’s say you’re craving a snack — the app will use the information to suggest you go for a walk instead of opening the fridge. The app could also be connected to your doctor, who could use the data to help you manage aspects of your health and wellness that are impacted by your nutrition.  

What do you think your team did well that led them to conquering SummerHack 2020?

One thing that they did well was to actually deliver; they had a good presentation that was submitted on time. Another thing is that their solution met the need and was possible to implement. We found a few articles suggesting the concept is already being developed. They also demonstrated a clear link to insurance: there is potential to reduce life insurance premiums.

On that note, what would be your advice to teams going into our upcoming WinterHack 2020 in November?

Fully understand the requirements and deliver based on them! Submit your materials way in advance of the deadline and rehearse your pitch well. In fact, submit a video pitch to avoid technological issues that come with a live presentation. While all this may sound very basic, it is the key to success. Also, know what your solution can achieve and back this knowledge with numbers and statistics.

That’s very valuable advice! In a nutshell, how would you describe your experience at SummerHack 2020?

I’d say it was fun, interactive, and a great opportunity to learn!

How do you think such an event can help #MakeInsuranceBetter?

The basic answer would be to share these ideas with potential startups so that those products can be developed. They may make insurance better because they address the needs of the insured and of the insurance industry.

Thank you, David, for sharing your time with us and for mentoring our students at SummerHack 2020! Congratulations once again on your big win and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming WinterHack 2020 in November!

Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure!

We’re about to announce the winners of our Best Solution – Greater China Area prize (valued at $1,000 CAD)! The announcement will be made via Facebook live stream on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 at 8 pm EDT. You don’t want to miss it, so click here to stay connected!

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!

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.

The Power of the Ideathon

In just 1 week, Cookhouse Labs will launch WinterHack 2020: Global Design Thinking Ideathon in partnership with InsurLab Germany and msg!

Winterhack 2020

From our experience with hosting (physical) ideathons in previous years, we’ve found that these events are a great way to get innovators’ creative juices flowing. While there are prizes and glory at stake, there are many additional cool benefits to getting involved in WinterHack 2020. Let’s check out those benefits!

1. Time crunch encourages focused innovation

Most innovation projects span several weeks, where team members meet occasionally for a few hours to discuss their ideas. In an ideathon, innovators are aware they must present a prototype within 2 days and successfully sell their idea to the judges, meaning little time must be wasted on discussion. The ideathon’s 2-day time crunch encourages innovators to timebox, allowing them to complete tasks within predetermined fixed times.

2. Hackers build holistic solutions

The solution should go beyond solving the problem; innovators must adopt a holistic approach when developing the solution. Many aspects of the business model must be considered, such as the target group, the marketing plan, and how to finance product development. The solution will be evaluated against diverse judging criteria, including ease of implementation. There are many aspects to consider but only 2 days at hand, creating an exciting challenge!

3. Experience Design Thinking in action

Many ideathons do not have a guided process, but at Cookhouse Labs, we want to maximize the experience and use a methodology that fits into the 2-day timeframe. We’ve used Design Thinking in projects that range from ½ a day to 3 months, meaning we know how to tailor the method to fit any project duration. Through our workshops, participants will learn how to:

  • Empathize with the end-user to understand their needs
  • Map out the customer journey
  • Define the real problem
  • Build their prototypes
  • Test their solution on real users, and
  • Create compelling final presentations

We’ve found that following the methodology leads to better results than simply jumping into coding the solution. Our workshops are designed so that one team member can attend while the remaining members continue to develop the solution, thereby making the most of the time available.

4. Learn and build meaningful connections in the process

Mentors are subject matter experts who provide valuable industry knowledge to guide teams towards holistic solutions. Many of our teams are comprised of student hackers, and this is an incredible opportunity to learn from industry veterans and build meaningful connections that can lead to internships and career opportunities.

Mentors are in the unique position to show students how exciting the insurance industry can be! Our brilliant student teams have their own in-depth knowledge of analytics, AI models, and technology, and as a Mentor, you will see what our young talent can bring to the table.

5. A single problem will inspire many innovative solutions

WinterHack 2020 focuses on digital ecosystems in insurance, a major opportunity for the industry to innovate and adopt exciting technology. An internal team addressing this opportunity will likely develop a single solution, but by the end of the 2 days, industry experts will have access to a variety of solutions created by the teams. Often, the output is very robust, especially if team members have coding and design experience. The ideathon is an opportunity to collaborate with our teams to further develop these solutions into viable products which can potentially solve your organization’s challenges and positively impact the industry.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join this exciting global ideathon – click here to learn more about how you can participate in WinterHack 2020!

IoT — a Game Changer for the Insurance Industry

The insurance industry is not known for being fast-paced, revolutionary, or innovative in any way. Why would we be? Insurance products and services have changed very little, if at all. We have mastered our skills as a passive risk taker over centuries. Now we are facing the biggest disruption the industry has ever seen — the Internet of Things, or IoT.  

How can this type of technology be disruptive? 

To answer this, we must first go back and understand how the insurance industry works. Insurance was created to cover the risk of financial loss. Consider any form of insurance — Life insurance covers a loss of income, health insurance covers treatment costs, and auto insurance covers the cost of accidental damage. In order to calculate the probability of this financial loss, actuaries — the mathematicians of insurance — look into the past to predict the future. They study historic claims data, take into account many risk factors, and build models around what they have learned.  

Let’s use the example of life insurance. Life insurance is significant because a single policy can run for many decades. For 40-odd years, the risk follows a mathematical model which is based on information provided by a young policy holder who expects a payout when she or he retires. This is truly a long time to predict. In the example of auto insurance, previous data from a similar age group and location as the policy holder, along with a history of accidents in the area, are used to calculate risk.  

Why does this matter so much? Think about it this way; approximately 80% of costs borne by insurance organizations are claims disbursements. If the impact of claims is reduced by 1 to 2%, this can translate to millions of dollars saved.  

What we are highlighting here is that for centuries, evaluating risk required looking into the past. In the case of health insurance, a younger, healthier policy holder will be offered a lower premium because previous data indicates that this individual is less likely to file a claim. 

Let’s focus on the auto sector for a moment. Very little has changed in the past few decades. The layout of roads, the shape of cars, even traffic rules are relatively the same. Yes, safety features have improved, but the risk model still has decades of solid data to follow.  

What if we introduce a new and unpredictable risk factor, such as autonomous vehicles? 

There is no historical data for autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles behave differently — there are never-seen-before accidents occurring, leading to new claims requests. This poses an equally unique opportunity and challenge to the insurance industry: how can our actuaries provide risk models without historic data to build around? 

We return to our aforementioned disruptor — IoT. This technology can offer real-time data that the industry has never accessed before. IoT can calculate the individual risk of the driver and use accurate behavioral data to determine the real risk at hand, allowing insurers to take new risks into consideration and charge fair premiums. Consider the COVID-19 work-from-home situation, where cars sit parked in garages for most of the week. Customers are being charged the same premiums, but if IoT data is used in programs like usage-based insurance, the insurer would know that the car is being used less often, significantly reducing the risk of a claim. Therefore, a lower premium can be charged, which the customer would no doubt appreciate in these challenging times. 

Without a doubt, the insurance industry is shifting from being a passive risk taker to becoming an active risk manager. The industry has begun to offer customers valuable information that it has acquired through this real-time data analysis. Insurers now trade discounted premiums for actively reducing the risk. Insurers educate their customers on the importance of sleep and a healthy diet. All the unique data required to manage risk is collected through IoT devices, such as smartwatches. When customers follow this life-changing advice, their individual risk of financial loss is reduced. Fewer claims are filed.  

And we know fewer claims means insurers save millions in disbursement money. 

Although we have barely scratched the surface of the potential of IoT in insurance, we cannot deny that IoT is the biggest disruptor the industry has ever seen. The availability of real-time, individualized sensor data is doing more than change the risk model; it is transforming our actuaries into data scientists.  

The potential for IoT and its new business models is vast within the insurance industry. 

Who knows where it will take us next? 

To learn more about how IoT will impact the insurance industry, sign up for our free 60-minute Lunch & Learn webinar, “The Future of IoT in Insurance” on Tuesday, June 16th at 11:30 AM EST!

You can also check out our other free virtual innovation events by clicking here.

Machine Learning Innovation Challenge – What Can Be Accomplished in 24 Hours?

What can you accomplish in 24 hours when you bring together a group of curious thinkers?

Cookhouse Lab hosted our first free Innovation Challenge Event last week and the topic of interest was machine learning. Machine learning has been a definite hot topic for manual process optimization in any industry, and our participants were taken through a condensed Cookhouse Lab innovation sprint towards creating insurance-specific use cases. 

Video Recap

Inspired by the recent Delays in APS project,  we invited the insurance community to embark on a machine learning minimum viable product by piloting a 24-hour innovation challenge. Participants came from all facets of insurance including The Cooperators, Munich Re & RSA. Other diversifying participants included KPMG and Insurance Canada, both of which added greatly to the experience.

After orientation with our in house Cookhouse Lab design thinking team and machine learning experts SortSpoke, the teams enjoyed some networking over a BBQ dinner and a team formation exercise in our rooftop patio.

The group shared many fantastic ideas that spanned automotive, oil & gas and social industries to life and P&C insurance products, but the group narrowed down their choices to the top three.

Teams were formed around three different machine learning themes: Chatbots, Fraud and Social Media.

A facilitated rapid design thinking experience was delivered over the reaming competition timeline. This included defining a problem statement, identifying target personas, designing a solution and most importantly, testing the design with SMEs and customers. Though the team didn’t have the time to generate multiple iterations, the final MPVs presented to judging panel consisted of Chris Murumets, Co-Founder and CEO at LOGiQ3 Group and Cookhouse Lab, Hashmat Rohian, Senior Director, Innovation at The Co-operators and Craig Mauchan, Vice President Sales & Marketing at SortSpoke, were top-notch quality. 

Through this Innovation Challenge, I found that the following three key factors enabled success:

  • Preparing a testing and SME community is key to rapid design thinking experiences, and design thinking is something that can be adapted to any phase of the project.
  • Whether it may be three months or three hours, keeping a customer centric and lean startup mindset will consistently provide insightful and quality output with any diverse team.
  • In contrast to traditional work, the ability to instill a close but not perfect attitude helps teams progress when given constrained timeframes. By not focusing on perfection or knowns, teams can continue to experience, experiment, trial and error towards an MVP goal without expending energy validating outputs. Remember there is always another chance at the next iteration!
Sample output

In the end, participants, judges and the Cookhouse Lab team all enjoyed the high energy experience.  Many were amazed at the output and the learnings from the 24-hour experience. The judging criteria was based on four factors: MVP Presentation (40%), Innovativeness (25%), Size of Opportunity (20%) and Time to Market (15%).  And in the end, the winning team edged out a win by scoring only 0.025 more points than the second place team but, everyone deserved to win!

Do you have what it takes to innovate under time constraints? Does working with a group of diverse peers excite you? 

Be sure to subscribe to get the latest announcements on our next 24-hour challenge and release of our next innovation projects! 

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