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!
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!
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 Cees van Dijk, Co-Founder and COO of Spearhead. Check out the full interview below!
Cees, thank you for joining us! We met you two years ago at an event at Cookhouse Labs, where we introduced Spearhead to our audience as an exciting and interesting startup. I was personally very impressed by the work that you have done, specifically around the claims area. For our readers, let’s rewind and start with an introduction of yourself and your startup.
Thanks for the opportunity! My name is Cees, and I’m a Dutch living in Switzerland in the Alps. I’m one of the founders of Spearhead. We are a company that focuses on motor claims and especially the first notice of loss. We see it as our mission to make that first notice of loss more digital and offer a better and more efficient experience. And since we started the business in 2016, that’s what we’ve been focusing on.
You already mentioned a couple of words about motor insurance and insurance claims. Can you tell us a little bit about what Spearhead is providing in this area, especially how you came up with the idea? Every founder has a moment where you decide to start your own business because you really believe in something. So, what was this moment for you and what makes Spearhead unique?
In my previous life, I used to work in the US and Canada in automotive claims. That was my first touchpoint with vehicle telematics. Someone asked me, “Cees, could you use this in a claim, too?” I started looking into this probably in 2013, and I figured out, yes, vehicles are actually generating potentially useful data that you can work with. Originally, the US and Canada were far more advanced when it came to self-service. So, the first trends of people managing claims online or through apps started in the US and Canada, and then later came to Europe. The interesting thing I discovered is that it’s always a problem for a consumer to describe a damage report for loss. But if the car starts telling part of what’s happened to it, then you make that self-service notification a lot easier.
Of course, the discussions inspired me; can we automate the claim, can we use smart analytics to automatically process, and what if you could use telematics? If you combine these things and make it easier with the help of analytics, then you can create a whole different claims process experience. I moved back in the meantime to Switzerland, and the idea came kept coming back. So, at a certain point in time I thought, “Let’s do that, but let’s really focus on that idea only because you can’t do 10 things at the same time and do them right.”
I founded Spearhead together with a partner and decided to focus on the domain of using telematics data. Additionally, we focused on making the experience a bit better and using predictive analytics to basically provide (for up to 80% of the claims) all the answers in the first couple of minutes after an accident or a loss has happened. And in the meantime, obviously we built that and we’re successful with this approach.
Impressive solution and a great idea! When you started the company and as you grew it, what were the specific challenges that you faced?
How much time do you have? I would say it’s been a journey of challenges, but let’s take a few out of that. Of course, these kinds of things require a lot of investment and a lot of R&D. So, on one hand, you’re doing the R&D, and on the other hand, you’re securing finance, and on the third hand, at a certain point in time, you need to do sales. So, one of the challenges becomes running everything together and eventually separating these things. I’ll be quite open here, another challenge we faced was we originally thought in 2016 that telematics would be a great idea. I think we were right in the idea itself, but we were wrong in the timing because effectively it took three, four more years than we expected before that telematic data became available on the scale. Now we’ve reached that point, just a bit later. And of course, that creates challenges of its own.
Looking back on your journey, what are some of the highlights and moments of success that stand out to you?
I think there are a couple of them, actually. I remember the first one clearly, even the date: when we launched the first predictive model allowed repair cost. To our surprise, the first model turned out to be pretty accurate. That was a reason to celebrate because until that point in time, it was an idea that I thought should work. Once you see it working and of course, the first real customer to use your system productively, these are things I will always remember. We’ve learned to celebrate the successes because sometimes things don’t go as you would like and then you fall down, you get up and you continue.
That’s great! Continuing this journey with all the successes, where do you see your organization in two to three years from now?
For sure, a larger part of our transactions will be telematics-based. The second thing is, currently we are based in Europe, but in two or three years, I expect also to be on the other side of the Atlantic. There’s plenty of ambition!
Usually, creating a successful startup comes down to collaboration in the beginning. So, what is your experience partnering with large organizations in the beginning and along the way?
I think partnerships are essential, especially when you’re focused because you have your own mission, and you try to do it right. So, the first set of partners are those that work in adjacent spaces around your mission. What we’ve learned over time is that it is very important to select the right partners. The second kind of partner we typically work with are the larger companies that use our service as part of an overall service. For instance, we develop things together and we partner because we bring things to the market.
The third set is, of course, the customers because you start co-developing things. I find that you learn the most from your customers. Fortunately, with several customers, we’ve actually managed to build a more partnership-customer relationship, where we really create things together. That brings me to insurance, because some of those companies are insurance providers. As a startup, you need a bit more time because you always want to go faster and insurance companies have their own pace, so it takes more time. Nevertheless, over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that an increasing number of insurance carriers are changing and trying to speed things up, especially in the digitalization area. There is hope that our timelines come together eventually, but for the time being, a bit of patience is required.
We often hear this feedback from startups, and I agree, it is certainly improving. On the topic of collaboration, how do you think innovation ecosystems such as Cookhouse Labs can bring value to your journey?
Organizations such as yours are very useful for two reasons. So first, insurance companies need to figure out what’s out there in the world, and you scout for ideas and connect people. The second thing is when you decide together with an insurance carrier that you want to do something, but you don’t want to do it the traditional way. Bringing both parties together in a slightly different, less formal, and less traditional way is very important and helping facilitate that co-creation is very useful.
A final question we always like to ask: What advice can you give to an entrepreneur looking to follow in your footsteps in the InsurTech scene?
Do the groundwork. Make your business plan and really validate it before you start. The second piece of advice is focus. Once you start, many new ideas cross your mind and although the temptation will be there to go sideways, it’s important to stay loyal to your original idea. The third thing is if you want to be able to spend your time on focusing on your idea and bringing it to reality in the early days, make sure that you have someone on board that can help take away the burden of financing your journey.
Cees, thank you very much for sharing your time with us! I’m personally looking forward to the upcoming Food for Thought event with you and learning more about Spearhead’s offering and seeing the live demo. I saw some of it already and it was very impressive. You know, we’re happy to help you wherever we can on your growth path and your move into North America!
Want to learn more about how you can use Spearhead’s incredible telematics solution to improve your claims process?
Join our upcoming free 45-minute session, “Food for Thought ft. Spearhead: Connecting the Dots in Motor Claims”, on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. In the webinar, Cees will show you how you can make telematics work for you and how to optimize your claims process for non-connected drivers.
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 Pavol Sikula, Founder and CEO of AskBrian. Check out the full interview below!
Welcome to our first interview of 2021! Pavol, we met recently through a mutual contact and found your new venture very interesting. Before we begin, tell us about yourself, your startup, and how you came up with the name AskBrian!
I’ve been in top management consulting in Munich, Germany for 15 years. My founding story is related to management consulting, where I saw some annoying recurring tasks that were a waste of talent and time. As technology became better and better, I started to automate many tasks in management consulting, but many of them are relevant to businesspeople in general.
Brian is a digital assistant for businesspeople, especially management consultants, who performs tasks 24/7. We called him Brian because it’s short, it’s easily recognizable because of the movie Life of Brian, it includes the letters used in AI, and it rhymes with “Brian the Brain”, which is what we call him internally.
Behind every story of a startup, there is a moment when someone says, “Okay, I’m going to quit my job, leave my life behind, and I’m going to start my own journey”. When was this moment for you?
One evening in 2017, some colleagues and I had to translate slides for a proposal we were working on. It was already late, and nobody had time or fun translating documents. This was the moment when I realized that AI translation has become so good that there must be a way to integrate the state-of-the-art translation service and enable full document translation. The technology was out there and all we had to do was make it accessible. We chose to do this via natural language, where Brian uses human communication channels (like email) to perform tasks. This evening and this journey have driven my path in the last three years.
For the first two years, I worked on Brian in parallel to my regular job, thanks to the support of Stern Stewart & Co. where I participated in their startup program. But I realized working at nights and on weekends is not enough if you really want to become successful. In January 2020, I left my amazing job in consultancy to follow this dream because I kept thinking, “I have to do it, I can’t think about anything else”. It has started to pay out in the form of impressed users of Brian!
What challenges did you face while growing your business?
As I started to experiment the backbone technology, there were basic challenges such as how to get the Chrome browser on a notebook, which was not allowed for data protection reasons. There have been technical challenges, such as finding a way to make multiple data sources and digital services available via human language. We wondered if it was possible for a machine to understand what a user wants and to deliver presentations and to adjust documents.
We don’t only have technical challenges: the biggest one is managing human expectations. What is real? What is fake? Sometimes people think that Brian is a program that can answer any question and complete any task, but that’s not the case. We are managing expectations, making them real, and showing what the technology can do.
Along with challenges come highlights, so what are some moments that really stood out to you? What was the moment when you thought you made the right decision to launch AskBrian?
One highlight I celebrated hugely was when Brian translated his first PowerPoint presentation without mistakes. This was on a Wednesday at 1 o’clock in the morning. After many months, we finally did it and I was so happy that I drank champagne at breakfast!
Another moment came at the end of 2019. I googled “AI Forbes” and wrote to the first author to ask if they would write about us, and it worked out! They wrote a case study about AskBrian and it was cool to have reached a point where Forbes would write about us.
One more highlight was in May 2020, where despite COVID-19 we managed to close our first financing round. Even though DAX was down by 40% at the time we asked our angels to invest, I think it was one of our biggest achievements. To achieve that, we showed really positive traction in the usage of our service.
It looks like your company is doing well and you’re making great progress in your journey! Where do you see your business in 2-3 years? What’s your vision?
Of course, we want to impress our users! I hope hundreds of thousands of users will use Brian’s services, and that we will teach Brian cool new skills to perform. I hope he will be capable of tasks we cannot even imagine today. I’m very excited to see what Brian will be capable of in 3 years, because we always take state-of-the-art technology and build it into Brian. In 2025, we want to have one million users. It’s an ambitious target, but we believe we can do it!
Starting a new venture is all about partnerships, so we’d love to know about your experience with collaborating with larger organizations!
Our current target market is consultants, from one-man shops up to the Big 4 with 250,000 employees approximately. What we see is that there is no real correlation in the speed of processing in these organizations. Sometimes, consultancies with 20 people are as difficult to approach as a Big 4 company. This is in the area of consultancy, where the companies by nature are entrepreneurial, dynamic, and open for innovation, because they must deliver what they teach their clients. In the area of corporates, it’s kind of difficult to get through to the purchasing department and to get all the approvals you need. Therefore, we prefer to start with in-house consultancies and bring them on as friends and supporters. Then, we get into corporates through this channel and become available for employees in large corporations. We have to get 2.5% of the early adopters, and from there on, I believe we will succeed step-by-step in convincing more and more companies to work with us.
Moving to the insurance market, how can Brian benefit insurers?
Where we see potential is in the area of Claims Management, which is an area that requires high capacity, high intensity of human work, and costs a lot of human time and resources. In the area of document handling, Brian can help with translation and conversion of documents or reports from different languages into your targeted language using PDF or other formats. Brian can significantly accelerate the process, reduce the cost, and improve the quality of the assessment of claims of individual companies.
As a startup from outside the insurance industry, how can collaborating with organizations or ecosystems like Cookhouse Labs bring value to your journey?
What I find amazing about your Lab is that you are a platform where innovators from the industry meet young and wild companies with crazy ideas. It’s a great place for innovators to meet the market and the market can meet the newest ideas, and I believe that both parties can benefit a lot.
For a startup, it is quite difficult to find the innovators within companies. People working with innovation labs like Cookhouse Labs are people who want to find ideas, further develop, learn and get inspired, and want to get things done. You meet people who are searching for new ideas and that’s why I find it so interesting to work with you!
Final question: What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?
I find a lot of people have great ideas, but I think 95% of them don’t move forward with their ideas. My recommendation would be this: if you are crazy about an idea, if the idea doesn’t let you sleep, then just do it! Beware that it is extremely hard to progress, but if you are crazy about an idea, then just do it. It is connected with certain risks, especially if you have been in your profession for multiple years or you have a lot to lose financially. However, the learning will be extremely rewarding and will turn into something. So, if you are crazy about an idea, then just start working on it!
That’s valuable advice, Pavol! Thank you for sharing some great insights about AskBrian. We’ll definitely stay connected to you and your journey and definitely celebrate your first million users with a bottle of champagne!
Want to learn more about how you can leverage Brian’s 24 skills in the New Year?
Join our upcoming free webinar “Food for Thought: AI-Powered Brian Rocks Consulting. What About Insurance?” on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. In the webinar, Pavol will share more details about Brian’s relevance to the insurance industry, with a deep dive into claims management.
We’re excited to continue our series, “Startup Bites: Meet the Young Chefs”, where Co-Founder Sven Roehl sits down with founders of InsurTech 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 Paul Greenhalgh, Director of The Americas at EasySend. Check out the full interview below!
Hi Paul, it’s great to see you! We met EasySend through some innovation activities in Israel, and what EasySend can provide to the insurance industry is very exciting. We’re happy to get more insight into the startup and the story behind it, so tell us about yourself and about EasySend!
I’ve been in the insurance industry for about 9 years and spent 4 years working at SAP. I also spent a couple of years in the payment processing space at One Inc., a year at Good Technology (which became Blackberry), and a year at iPipeline, which is an eForms firm and is now owned by Roper Technologies, an SAP company — so it’s all come full circle!
EasySend is the no-code, full-front office onboarding and claims settlement solution for insurance that was needed years ago, and now it exists. We’re now taking things that used to take days or weeks and doing them in minutes and hours with digitization of forms and all office activities across the board.
Thank you for sharing that! About EasySend — it was clearly born out of a process that was very time-consuming and not-so-easy, but what was the idea behind it and what motivated you to launch it?
EasySend was founded 4 years ago by two brothers, Omer and Eran Shirazi, and Tal Daskal, and all three Co-Founders are still with the company. They served in the Israeli military, and when they got out, they had this great idea. They put it down on paper for one customer originally and bootstrapped the company for over 2 years before we took any investments. We took on a $5 million USD investment at the end of 2018 from Vortex Ventures, who previously invested in the Waze app. Over the past few weeks, we have now secured $11 million USD in funding from Hanaco and Intel Capital.
That’s really great news, especially in these challenging times. When we think about growing the company, let’s talk about how big the company is, where you currently do business, and what challenges EasySend overcame along the way.
The biggest challenge we had was making a footprint in the market. We had sold to all of the major insurance companies and banks in Israel, so we launched in Europe nearly 2 years ago, and the U.S., Canada, and South America last year. Getting those initial customers is definitely a challenge, especially the ones that are well-known. I reached out to my contacts at Tier 1 and 2 insurance companies, brokerages, and agencies, and really focused on bigger names. They are not the easiest to sign, but we managed to sign some of them. Having references and case studies has made it easier for people to know who we are and what we do.
Could you give us an example of how EasySend helped streamline an insurance company’s processes?
You may have heard that the pet insurance industry is really growing. All the major Tier 1 and 2 firms are looking into it and some have already launched offerings, including groups like Nationwide. We went in and signed the #1 provider in pet insurance, called Petplan. They are now settling 30,000 to 40,000 claims per month with EasySend, and have cut their cost of settling claims by 15 to 20% by taking what was originally a manual process and going fully digital with our claims settlement solution.
And what about an example outside the insurance industry?
We’ve also signed up PSCU, a large facilitator in St. Petersburg that represents 1500 credit unions around the United States. They are also using EasySend for onboarding.
What would you say is the unique selling point in your solution?
Particularly with what’s going on in the world today, folks need to find processes and technologies that enable them to do things without having to physically meet people. Now, you can complete a full process, such as onboarding, cross-selling life insurance to existing P&C customers, settling claims in pet insurance, or reporting first notice of loss within auto insurance. Interestingly enough, we are now breaking into the e-signature marketing, and we’ve actually displaced DocuSign in a couple of accounts. We’re definitely being seen as a direct competitor of DocuSign and Adobe. This opens a whole new market for us — we do it faster, cheaper, and more nimbly with the insurance, finance, banking, and credit union expertise.
I’ve seen your solution in action, and it is definitely very easy to use and implement!
What we’re providing is essentially a TurboTax and Amazon-like experience for insurance, where we’re creating digital documents (as one carrier called them) and creating a full digital process for people to fill out documents on their own, either with a co-browsing session with an agent or own their own as a self-service function. It automatically populates the PDF, provides a signature, and it becomes a legally bound document that both the customer and brokerage or agency get a copy of. The carrier, agency, or broker retains the digital auto trail, signatures, and time stamps.
With the next funding just recently secured, it sounds like you’re growing quickly now. Where do you see EasySend in the next 2 or 3 years?
I think we can reasonably grow revenue by 3 to 5 times. We’d like to see the 40 to 50 client mark in the U.S., Canada, and South America within the next few years. That represents the growth and exposure that makes us attractive for Series B, which I’m sure is down the road.
When we talk to startups, we often hear about challenges arising in partnerships between the insurance organization and the agile, lean startup. How do you see this collaboration and what advice would you offer startups trying to enter this market?
A lot of the older insurance companies have employees that have been with them for 30 to 40 years. They do things a certain way, operate in silos, and use legacy systems. The agile and lean way of thinking is something that takes getting used to, but in our generation, it’s something we know and practice. Going from the waterfall to agile philosophy in terms of project management and doing things in general has created a lot of opportunities in insurance that they may not have thought was possible. We always start with the folks that are in Innovation and Digital Strategies, because they are usually involved in some level, in addition to IT.
Last question — where do you see the industry headed in the next 5 years, especially with the recent COVID-19 impact?
I see digital transformation continuing to evolve. Providing an offering that can encompass as many things as possible on the front end is really important. From an onboarding perspective, we do everything we can, from grabbing onto the initial requirements all the way to the e-signature and facilitating payment. We recently signed a partnership with Stripe, and we can work with any payment processor because as a facilitator, we don’t process payments. Underwriting is also becoming more automatic through algorithms for certain types of policies, so we can certainly get involved with that.
Thank you, Paul, for sharing your insights about EasySend! It was great to hear your story and about what you’re providing. Congratulations on the recent investment, and we wish you all the best going forward!
We’re excited to continue our series, “Startup Bites: Meet the Young Chefs”, where Co-Founder Sven Roehl sits down with founders of InsurTech 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 Laura McKay, Co-Founder of PolicyMe. Read the full interview below!
Hi Laura, thank you for joining us today! Our audience would love to hear a little bit about yourself, your history, and in a nutshell, an overview about your startup and when you found it.
I started my journey in life insurance back at the University of Waterloo, where I studied Actuarial Science, but instead I went into Management Consulting. After school, I joined Oliver Wyman, which is a management consulting firm, to work on strategic initiatives, operational efficiency initiatives, and even regulatory initiatives. It went well; I spent a lot of my time with insurance companies, exploring the strategy side. I noticed there was progress being made in the insurance space, but it was very, very slow.
At Oliver Wyman, I met my Co-Founder, Andrew Ostro, and we decided to take a stab at this problem ourselves. Life insurance is archaic in the way that we distribute products, how long it takes to get an approval, and the settlements of a life insurance policy. There is probably a quicker, more efficient way to serve customers, and that was how we decided to start PolicyMe. We started in March of 2018, just the two of us with our jobs, and immediately came into contact with Cookhouse Labs. You were very supportive of us in those early days, helping us with office space, making an introduction to various Canadian life insurance companies, and helping us brainstorm the future of this company. We were able to do a soft launch in September of 2018 and a more formal launch by the end of the year, and have really seen a lot of traction since then.
It feels like not long ago, and now you’re already two years into the market. I was an entrepreneur a long time ago and I know there are quite a few sleepless nights before really making a final decision. What motivated you to quit your job and go ahead with PolicyMe?
We started talking about the idea non-stop in December, working on it on the side. At some point, I realized that I needed to either pursue this full-time, or I needed to let it go. I am very passionate about the idea, but there was no way I could pull this off while having a separate career at Oliver Wyman. We looked at the Canadian market and didn’t see a ton of competition or innovation in this market specifically, and it just felt like the perfect place to start a company. I had a lot of support from mentors and even colleagues at Oliver Wyman, and that was the final bit of encouragement that I needed to take this on.
So now, a little over 2 years later, what are the biggest challenges that you faced while growing your business?
We initially set up the business as a brokerage, which was by far the quickest way to launch the company and allowed us to get started and sell life insurance policies. What that meant is that we relied on insurance companies to help with the customer’s journey, because right now we work with insurance companies to get our applicants underwritten through them. We rely on their processes to get to an approval, and we’re held to their constraints around what applications and processes they’d like to use. What surprised us was how few enabled a smooth seamless journey starting with, believe it or not, e-signatures. In an era of COVID, it’s crazy that you wouldn’t be able to have that. In 2018, I remember calling every Canadian life insurance company that I could possibly contract with as a life insurance advisor and it was slim pickings to find insurance companies that would allow something as simple as e-signatures. Other processes and improvements like non-face-to-face sales had a lot of constraints around them, such as requiring clients to verify their IDs by sending a copy via mail.
It took a while to get down to a list of partners who we thought would meet our demands of the online digital application process that we really wanted for our clients, but it was worth it. Since then, we’ve become pretty good partners with all these insurance companies, and they have been interested in our journey. They keep close connections with us and, in some cases, even make exceptions for us as a digital company, knowing that our clients aren’t the typical clients that are meeting their advisor face-to-face.
As you mentioned, we met at Cookhouse Labs a little over 2 years ago and I remember it well. How did the collaboration between Cookhouse Labs and PolicyMe add value to your business?
First and foremost, it was an entryway into meeting a lot of parties within the Canadian insurance industry. We were introduced to senior leaders at MGAs and other insurance companies. We also got to participate in some interesting workshops with people that we deal with every day, like a workshop with underwriters to talk about the future of underwriting. It was interesting to get their point of view on how far we could push the envelope, where some of the constraints are, and why those constraints exist. It was very beneficial for us early on to have those sounding boards for some of our ideas to tell us how feasible they would be!
I’m glad we could contribute to your business, which seems to be very successful right now! If we look back on your journey, what highlights and moments of success stand out to you? Do you have moments where you say “Wow!” — where you immediately wanted to go and open a bottle of champagne?
There’s so many to recount! I think the first highlight was the day we launched. We sold our first policy seamlessly without having to talk to someone; they filled out all the information online and got through it. I remember we were at Cookhouse Labs and my husband came by with a champagne bottle. It was just one policy, but it proved to us that everything functioned well on the first day that we launched, which was great.
Since then, there’s been a tremendous number of wins. At this point, we have 190 5-star reviews, but even hitting that hundredth 5-star review was so exciting. It just shocked me that strangers felt so fondly about their experience working with us that they were willing to take a few moments to write us a review. And finally, when in January of this year we raised our seed-round, because sales is a lot of work, certainly a lot of work for my Co-Founder Andrew. It just proved to us that there was interest in this space and that there were a lot of opportunities to work with investors in the future.
Speaking of the future, where do you see your business in the next 2-3 years?
We are very focused on growing our presence in the Canadian market. We are in the process of doubling down on branding and becoming a household name for life insurance in the Canadian market. Another focus is products — we really want to take control of the end-to-end customer journey. We’re trying to get accelerated underwriting experiences for our customers so that, if they qualify, they don’t need to go through an excessive wait time and then an underwriting cycle. I would love to get to a place where we can give decisions after they answer a few eligibility questions. After that, we’ll focus on launching new products that our customers ask about all the time, such as critical illness. We’re excited to expand the number of products that we can offer our clients!
Exciting time ahead of you! You mentioned your business currently involves collaborating with insurance companies. On a personal level, how has your experience been with this collaboration?
To be honest, it depends on the insurance company. One thing that I’ve always struggled with in the life insurance space is just how many people are involved in getting an application from ‘created’ to ‘settled’. We’re pretty convinced an application goes through around 16 different pairs of hands before it gets approved. And I’m talking about a very healthy individual — it takes that many pairs of hands. If you think about it that way, we’re dealing with improving the process with 16 different people. That’s been our biggest challenge in working with insurance companies: they’ve become very solid in terms of how they work and how they structure themselves. There’s no one overseeing the end-to-end customer journey to see if there’s improvements that can be made along the whole process. As we come in and suggest changes, there are a lot of different people that we need to get buy-in from to make a single change.
I think that that should be one of the biggest goals of this industry in the future. Do there need to be 16 different pairs of hands to approve and settle the application of a 30-year-old buying a $500,000 term life insurance policy? Is there a way we can really streamline that process for them? Because every time you introduce a new pair of hands, that hand-off can take 2-3 days. If you have 16 transition points, 2-3 days quickly turns into a very long time to settle this. So, if a customer could skip through those processes, it would be helpful to them.
There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement in the insurance industry. Based on your experience, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 years?
There’s a good amount of focus on underwriting recently, probably prompted by the current pandemic and the limitations we had for several months. I think that was the fire that we all needed to rethink whether all these requirements are necessary and whether there’s a way that we could get comfortable with a little less information from the applicant. Looking at other markets, especially the U.S. market, they have been able to get more comfortable with accelerated underwriting than what we’ve seen in the Canadian market. I think it’s time we push the envelope to see if there’s a way we can get there.
I think another direction is to get a focus lens on the process, versus just the broker focus lens. You can even see the way some of the health questions are asked — they’re very confusing and probably written by a legal and compliance team. I think it’s worthwhile to look at the customer journey from a consumer perspective. A move to digital brokerages and digital channels is inevitable and we’ve seen it happen in every other financial services vertical. It’s typically how millennials like to do business; they’re focused on self-service. If it’s not a priority for insurance companies today, it really should be. Focusing on good customer experience could lead to their market share going up quite a bit.
Customer experience is key, and we do our part by using a human-centric approach at Cookhouse Labs. We’re starting to see improvement and there’s definitely a lot more work that needs to be done, but we’re very happy to have organizations like PolicyMe supporting the Canadian industry and achieving this goal! Laura, thank you very much for sharing insights on your organization with us today. We wish you all the best!
Thank you, it’s great that we’ve stayed connected even though we’ve moved out of the Lab space. It’s been just wonderful to continue to participate in your events!
We’re excited to launch our series, “Startup Bites: Meet the Young Chefs”, where Co-Founder Sven Roehl sits down with founders of InsurTech 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 Trevor Gary, Founder of Micruity. Read the full interview below!
Trevor, thank you for joining us today! It’s been a while since we meet at Cookhouse Labs. You had reached out to us because you were thinking about quitting your job and starting your own business. We said, ‘Let’s see what how we can support you,’ and here you are a couple years later, running a successful company! We’re very interested in hearing more about your business, so let’s start with a quick introduction about yourself and your startup.
Thank you for having me! I remember that very, very clearly — it’s ingrained in my brain.
About me; I worked at Deloitte before I started Micruity. Myself, I’m an active person. I love snowboarding and running. I’m a big fan of manga and Japanese animation and I have 2 sisters that are my good friends.
About Micruity; At Micruity’s core, it’s a data-clearing house that can easily be easily spun up on different environments, different cloud platforms. It can take information in several different forms and standards. Currently, we focus on the U.S. 401K market — that’s a $6 trillion market — and on enabling lifetime income products to exists in that market, so annuities. We connect the key three stakeholders that would be associated with that transaction: a life insurer, a fund manager and a 401K record-keeper. We enable them to communicate regardless of their standard and form. A life-insurer may want to communicate via an API, and a record-keeper may want to communicate using the ACORD standard through an SFTP connection. These two can still communicate with each other because Micruity is sitting in the middle, translating the information and sending and receiving it in whichever form a stakeholder wants it to. We are essentially their data conduit.
Behind every great idea is a moment where you say, “Okay, I’m going to do it, I’m going to start my own business”. What was that moment for you and how did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea while I was still at Deloitte. I saw that we were closing pension plans, so individuals no longer had access to that lifetime income which was provided by their past-employer. Huge companies were closing these plans because they were worried about people outliving their projections and the companies being on the hook for that liability, but what they were doing was transferring that risk over to unsophisticated investors. I also saw that, while we were closing these pension plans, we were able to sell that liability to life insurers who had a big appetite for that group annuity type business, and we’re talking billions of dollars in transactions. I thought, “Okay, we need to somehow fill this gap and to make lifetime income more accessible to the mid-market individual, and Micruity is the way to do it”.
Back then, I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but I thought we somehow need to enable these transactions to happen much more seamlessly. The purchase of annuities needs to be much easier. And so, the eureka moment was really associated with Cookhouse Labs. I reached out and you responded. You said, “Yeah, come on in, let’s talk about it”. I remember clear as day the conversation, and Cookhouse Labs was really supportive. You told me that if I chose to leave Deloitte and start Micruity, you would help me out with office space and get it up and running. And so, I did and that big moment was December 2017. I’m actually quite attached to Cookhouse Labs!
That’s great to hear! It’s been a while since December 2017, so tell us, what challenges did you face growing Micruity?
The biggest challenge is when startups enter a market, they’re creating a new solution to an existing problem and saying, “I can do this better than you’re doing it today”. Micruity is a bit different because annuities don’t really exist in defined contribution plans. It’s an idea, it’s been out there, but people haven’t figured how to do it. And so, the difficulty of that is the problem statement is not as tangible to many investors. We when we come to market, when we go to raise capital, we must find very strategic investors that really understand what we’re doing. In the traditional 1 minute, 2 minute, 5 minute pitch context, we don’t have much of a chance because there really is a deep background story that needs to be understood to explain how massive of an opportunity putting annuities into 401K plans really is. I would say that has been the biggest challenge for us, on the communication side. One of the largest obstacles we face is how do we communicate the value proposition of Micruity when it comes to raising money to build a capital-intensive infrastructure that the Micruity platform is.
It sounds like a solid challenge you have to overcome there, but it also sounds like you’re making a big impact. So you’re all working in the U.S. right now, only, not in Canada?
Only the U.S. right now, however we are still a Canadian firm. We own our U.S. subsidiary, but our tech development is in Toronto and will continue to stay there.
Are you planning at any time to provide the same service in Canada?
We are. For us, it would be really easy to just change the data storage to Canada and then we have the Micruity platform become a full Canadian version in its own environment. What we’re still trying to figure out is where Micruity will fit in the Canadian market. We know BlackRock has a new product with a lifetime income component that they have presented to Canadian defined contribution plan sponsors; is there a similar opportunity to do what we’re doing in Canada in the defined contribution plan space, or is the opportunity in Canada more on the retail side? Is the opportunity to create that infrastructure to make annuities more accessible on your mobile/local advisor platforms? This is just to get an easier way to start building a lifetime income over time, rather than a hundred thousand dollar annuity when you retire, which is not accessible to all your mid-market individuals.
Along your journey, I know you spent quite some time in the Lab with us. How did collaborating with Cookhouse Labs add value to your journey?
You ran a sprint towards the end of 2017 that involved collaborating with some insurance companies and consultants. The reason I was gung-ho to be a part of it was, as an entrepreneur, I’m so close to the problem. I live with the problem, I’m married to it, it sleeps with me every night. My solution would be narrowly focused.
What the Cookhouse Labs sprint enabled for us was this: let’s just create a 10,000-foot problem statement and then work with a group to see what solution we come up with. If that solution resembles at all what we’re doing at Micruity, that’s a traction point and you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t, that’s a pivot point. Being a part of that session gave us a little bit more confidence as a very, very early stage company and confirmed that we were on the right track. Bringing together folks with different expertise and having them come up with a similar solution was very valuable.
We’re happy to hear that! Looking back on your journey, what highlights and moments of success stand out to you?
There’s been a lot of little wins and ups and downs along the way. So it was myself and Chris, my business partner at the start, two Canadians on this path. At one point in 2018, we said, “We need to check out the U.S. and see what’s going on there”. We went to this conference and met the Managing Director at the time of a global insurance accelerator in Des Moines, Iowa, which is the insurance capital. He said, “You should apply to our accelerator, I think our team will be interested”. At the start of 2019, we got in and we moved down to Des Moines, Iowa for a few months, the coldest four months, I think, on record. We learned a ton about the U.S. insurance industry. It really was the start to Micruity becoming what it is today, building our business case and how we become the data conduit for the 401K space. There were ten startups all in the insurance space, all really early stage like us, from all over the country. It was a big win for us, and it continues to be. A lot of those relationships continue to guide us today.
Then we joined the Franklin Templeton/EvoNexus incubator in Silicon Valley. They’re doing large acquisitions, and you can feel it when you’re on a Franklin Templeton campus. Franklin Templeton is a fund manager. We’re so used to working with insurers closely, it’s exciting getting to see the other side of the house, because our key clients are life insurers and fund managers. That was really big for us and came with a nice investment from Franklin Templeton.
Sounds like an exciting time! Startups are all about growth — where do you see your organization in the next 2-3 years?
We will be leaders in the 401K market for data-clearing associated with annuity products. It really is a winner-take all business because it doesn’t make sense to have more than one middleware. The other side of it is that we’re looking to power apps on our platform so other companies can build an app using our data-clearing house. Looking at a lot more of those conversations with startups and around what they’re looking to do once this market’s more mature; secondary markets for annuities, annuity broker house, all those things, so looking at those conversations and start powering those products as well.
There’s a lot of collaboration involved in your business. We’re very interested in knowing from your point as a startup, how has your experience been with collaborating with insurance organizations?
Everyone knows collaborating with insurance companies is a battle. No one really moves quick in insurance. On top of that, you’re never going to see a real contract if you don’t have your security and your administration down, so as a startup, you have to endure this long sales cycle. You have to be able to operate a startup with some maturity, and somehow along the way show traction through POC’s, so that you can raise the money to build the team, to build the product so you can finally sell the product. So, a lot of chicken and egg, but what happens is if you are successful in doing this, you build really strong relationships because there is this massively long sale cycle with many points of contact with many people. If you do it successfully, you now have strong relationship with that company, and you’re probably going to get a fighting chance if you’re actually solving a problem. That will help you to grow, and then it’s now on the startup to be successful. On one side, it’s a battle; the other side is that through that battle, you build a really strong relationship with the company that is then interested in seeing you succeed and has your back.
And is it better to focus on a very limited amount of organizations then, or spread out and reach out to as many organizations as possible?
My career might be in a unique place because we’re a data-clearing house, so success in our market depends on our adoption across multiple insurers. Because ours requires more of a group adoption, we are probably on the longer end of the sales cycle, so we have to reach out to as many decision makers as possible. At the same time, our ecosystem is very small, maybe 50 companies between life insurers and fund managers. Maybe 25 life insurers have the capacity for this market. Our experience is unique, maybe even different from the majority of the insurance startups.
Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5 years?
Certainly, the pandemic had triggered this massive need for digital distribution, so anyone on the digital distribution side can have a fun couple of years. Looking at the bigger picture, what’s always on the top of my mind is product commoditization. I think the idea of being connected to a brand is not really realistic anymore. I think the insurers that will thrive will be the insurers that will figure out how to leverage readily available information to expedite the closing of the sale. Whoever can figure out how to do those can be successful, in my opinion.
Trevor, it was a pleasure to connect with you and reflect on the success you’ve had since we met in 2017. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and we wish you the best of luck for the future!
Here at Cookhouse Labs we are always happy to hear from you. Send us your Feedback or ask any question!
msg global solutions Canada Inc., and each of its affiliates or programs (“Cookhouse Labs”), is committed to providing transparency to outside parties with respect to the compliance of the organization’s electronic communication with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, in effect as of July 1st, 2014, and its relevant rules and regulations (hereinafter “CASL”). To that end, the Msg global solutions Anti-Spam Commitment is a formal statement of rights and obligations which is made available to outside parties. It is intended to inform outside parties of the type of responsible and transparent practices adopted by Msg global solutions when electronically communicating with outside parties, to inform outside parties about who they may contact at Msg global solutions for any concern pertaining to electronic communications, and to inform such outside parties of where and how they may unsubscribe to any electronic communications from msg global solutions. This document also includes a series of answers to questions about spam and msg global solutions’ practices that are frequently asked by outside parties that msg global solutions may communicate with.
1. APPLICATION AND SCOPE.
This Anti-Spam Commitment generally applies to any electronic communications sent by msg global solutions to outside parties and is protected by a range of business procedures, processes and policies to ensure that such communications are done in compliance with CASL. msg global solutions, in its electronic communications with outside parties, has to comply with the rules established by CASL and enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Competition Bureau and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. CASL regulates all commercial electronic messages (“CEM”), which are messages that include among their purposes, the encouragement of participation in a commercial activity.
2. WHAT IS msg global solutions DOING TO COMPLY WITH CASL?
msg global solutions has undertaken various initiatives in order to make sure that it is compliant with CASL. It has adopted this Anti-Spam Commitment to provide transparency to outside parties with respect to the compliance of the organization’s electronic communication practices with CASL, as well as undertaken the following initiatives:
msg global solutions has implemented CASL compliant consent forms
The consent of outside parties is necessary in order for msg global solutions to send a CEM. This consent typically must be “express”, but in certain circumstances consent can be “implied” and in others, messages are specifically exempt from consent requirements. msg global solutions has modified certain consent forms in order to ensure that the express consent obtained from recipients is in compliance with CASL.
Your communication preferences can be updated at any time by visiting the Preference Centre, which can be accessed at any time via our website, and you will be notified via email when changes have been made. You can have your email address removed from our mailing lists at any time, although even if you unsubscribe to receiving CEM from Msg global solutions, you may still receive electronic messages from msg global solutions which relate to an ongoing business relationship or which are exempt under CASL.
msg global solutions has modified its email footers
msg global solutions has modified its email footers to manage CASL’s consent requirements. Under CASL, all CEM sent must include certain prescribed content. For example, msg global solutions must clearly identify itself as the party sending the CEM, provide a method whereby the recipient can readily contact msg global solutions, such as a mailing address and one of (i) a telephone number with active response voicemail; (ii) an email address; or (iii) a web address; and provide a working unsubscribe mechanism. CASL compliant email footers have been updated on all CEM sent from msg global solutions, in order to ensure compliance with CASL.
msg global solutions has incorporated Unsubscribe Mechanisms
msg global solutions has incorporated unsubscribe mechanisms into all CEM, in order to manage CASL’s consent requirements. Under CASL, each CEM must provide a working unsubscribe mechanism (functional for 60 days), which must be processed without delay, within a maximum of 10 business days. msg global solutions has set up a uniform process in order to ensure that all unsubscribe requests will be complied with. You may at any time unsubscribe from receiving CEM from Msg global solutions by following the process laid out in the electronic message you receive, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. However, even if you unsubscribe to receiving CEM from msg global solutions, you may still receive electronic messages from msg global solutions which relate to an ongoing business relationship or which are exempt under CASL.
3. WHY ARE YOU RECEIVING AN ELECTRONIC MESSAGE FROM msg global solutions?
The types of CEM msg global solutions may send from time to time could include the following:
CEM sent to msg global solutions’s current or potential clients (whether individuals or businesses), by msg global solutions’s marketing department or msg global solutions’s sales and business development team. For example, this may be for prospecting purposes or in order to answer a request for information or an inquiry;
CEM sent to msg global solutions’s current or potential service providers by various msg global solutions business units. For example, msg global solutions may outsource part of its activities to a third party (such as a maintenance company, a translation service provider, etc.) or, msg global solutions HR department may contact potential employees electronically for recruitment purposes.
CEM sent to msg global solutions’s current or potential business partners. For example, this may be for building or finding new ventures and partnerships with industry companies, groups and associations.
If you have received a CEM from msg global solutions and you believe that you should not have, please assess as to whether you have provided implied or express consent to receive CEMs from msg global solutions, or if an exemption applies.
Express Consent: You can verify that you have provided express consent to msg global solutions (or verify the status of your consent) by reviewing your preferences in the Preference Centre.
Implied Consent: msg global solutions may infer your implied consent if:
msg global solutions has an existing business relationship with you or has a former business relationship with you which terminated less than two years ago (for instance, you are a former client);
msg global solutions received an inquiry from you within the last 6 months;
You disclosed your electronic address to a msg global solutions employee (for example you provided your business card to a msg global solutions employee) or you conspicuously published your electronic address (for example, via a corporate website or in a brochure) and the CEM sent is in connection with your business role and function.
When is an electronic message exempt under CASL?
If you are receiving an electronic communications from msg global solutions, it may be a message that is exempt under CASL. This would be the case if the message is one the following:
you have a personal relationship with the msg global solutions employee who contacted you, meaning that you have previously had a direct, voluntary, two-way communication;
you have a family relationship with the msg global solutions employee who contacted you;
the CEM is sent within msg global solutions (between employees of msg global solutions);
the CEM is sent between msg global solutions and another business, where there is an ongoing relationship between msg global solutions and this other business;
the CEM was sent by msg global solutions to you, in order to respond to your request or inquiry; or
the CEM was sent by msg global solutions to you, in order to enforce a legal right or obligation (for instance, if you have an outstanding debt, or breached a contract that you have with msg global solutions, etc.).
In certain situations, your consent is not required for certain types of messages sent by msg global solutions, although you may still unsubscribe from future transmission of similar messages. The type of messages where msg global solutions does not need your consent is an electronic message that:
is sent once, following a referral by a current msg global solutions client, service provider, business partner or employee who also has a personal or business relationship with you;
only provides you with a request for a quote or an estimate;
only facilitates or confirms a transaction;
only provides msg global solutions warranty, product recall, safety or security information; or
only provides information about your ongoing use of msg global solutions services or products or ongoing purchases (including updates and upgrades).
If you have received a CEM, and you believe that you should not have, please contact us immediately at email@example.com and we will promptly remove your address from our list (within maximum 10 business days).
4. SOCIAL MEDIA.
You may be contacted by a msg global solutions employee via social media, such as LinkedIn, if you are connected on the social network with the msg global solutions employee, or if you have indicated through your preference settings the fact that you are open to receiving messages about new business opportunities or ventures. You may also be contacted if you have conspicuously published your electronic address (for instance, on a social media website), have not indicated that you did not wish to receive CEM, and the CEM sent is in connection with your business role and function.
5. WHAT TO DO IF YOU NO LONGER WISH TO RECEIVE CEM FROM msg global solutions.
At msg global solutions, we take the law very seriously. You may unsubscribe at any time from receiving CEM, by visiting the Preference Centre or clicking on the link in any CEM that you may receive from Msg global solutions, and we will remove you from our list within ten (10) business days.
6. AMENDMENT OF THIS ANTI-SPAM POLICY AND GUIDELINES.
From time to time, Msg global solutions will review and update this Anti-Spam Commitment as required to keep current with rules and regulations, new technologies, standards, our business practices and outside parties’ concerns. We will post any Anti-Spam Commitment changes on this page and, if the changes are significant, we will provide a more prominent notice (including, as the case may be, email notification of Anti-Spam Commitment changes).
7. QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THIS ANTI-SPAM COMMITMENT?
If you need further assistance, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revised November 11, 2019.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
Documents Available Notification (AODA)
Dear Valued Clients and Visitors,
msg global solutions Canada Inc. has created policies and procedures to meet their obligations regarding customer service outlined in the Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. 2005.
Our accessibility policies are available for your review in a number of formats. Should you wish access to these documents in another way, please notify: email@example.com
Statement of Organizational Commitment
msg global solutions is committed to ensuring equal access and participation for people with disabilities. We are committed to treating people with disabilities in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and we are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner. We will do so by removing and preventing barriers to accessibility and meeting our accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and Ontario’s accessibility laws.
Statement of Commitment to Accessibility
msg global solutions is committed to providing a barrier-free environment for all stakeholders including our clients/customers, employees, job applicants, suppliers, and any visitors who may enter our premises, access our information, or use our services. As an organization, we respect and uphold the requirements set forth under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(2005), and its associated standards and regulations.
msg global solutions understands that we have a responsibility for ensuring a safe, dignified, and welcoming environment for everyone. We are committed to ensuring our organization’s compliance by incorporating accessibility legislation into our policies, procedures, equipment requirements, training, and best practices. We will review these policies and practices annually, as organizational changes occur, or in anticipation of compliance deadlines. In addition, we will strive to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in a timely and effective manner.
Providing an accessible and barrier-free environment is a shared effort, and as an organization, msg global solutions is committed to working with the necessary parties to make accessibility for all a reality. For more detailed information on our accessibility policies, plans, and training programs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternate Format Request Form
msg global solutions is committed to providing accessible, quality services. Communications in alternate formats will be made available upon request within a reasonable time period in a mutually agreed upon format. Please complete and submit the below form to email@example.com
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Record of Customer
Thank you for visiting msg global solutions and Cookhouse Labs. We value all our clients and strive to meet everyone’s needs. We look forward to your feedback. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten Privacy Principles
Accountability: We are responsible for personal information under our control and we have designated individuals who are accountable for our compliance with these privacy principles.
Identifying Purposes: We shall disclose the purposes for which we collect your personal information either before or at the time the information is collected.
Consent: Your knowledge and consent is required for our collection, use or disclosure of your personal information, subject to certain exceptions set out in the law. Your consent may be expressed in writing, verbally, electronically, and in certain circumstances, may also be implied.
Limiting Collection: Your personal information shall only be collected by fair and lawful means, and will be limited to that which is necessary for the identified purposes.
Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention: Your personal information may only be used or disclosed for the purposes for which it was collected, other purposes to which you have consented or if required by law. Your personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfillment of identified purposes, or as required or permitted by law.
Accuracy: We shall use reasonable efforts to ensure that your personal information is accurate, complete and as up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.
Safeguards: We shall protect your personal information using security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of your information to prevent unwanted release, misuse or intrusion.
Openness: Information about our privacy policies and procedures for handling your personal information shall be made available to you.
Individual Access: Upon written request, you will be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of your personal information. In addition, you will be given access to your personal information, as permitted by law. You may also verify the accuracy and completeness of your personal information and, where appropriate, request that it be amended.
Inquiries and Concerns: You may contact us if you have any questions or concerns about our privacy policies and procedures.
1.2. Contact Us
Information We Collect
2.1. When You Visit our Websites
You are free to explore the Websites without providing any information about yourself. However, when you visit the Websites, we may request that you provide Personal Information about yourself and we will collect Navigational Information.
2.2. “Personal Information”
This refers to any information that you voluntarily submit to us through the use of our Websites, and that identifies you personally, including contact information, such as your name, e-mail address, company name, address, phone number, and other information about yourself or your business. Personal Information can also include information about any transactions, both free and paid, that you enter into on the Websites, and information about you that is available on the internet, such as from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Google, or publicly available information that we acquire from service providers.
2.3. “Navigational Information”
This refers to information about your computer and your visits to this website such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and pages viewed. Please see section 4 the “Navigation Information” section, below.
2.4. Information About Individuals Under 18
The Websites are not intended for or targeted at individuals under 18, and we do not knowingly or intentionally collect information about individuals under 18. If you believe that we have collected information about an individual under 18, please contact us at: email@example.com, or by postal mail at: Cookhouse Labs, 30-34 Duncan Street , Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 1A1, Attention: Privacy, so that we may delete the information.
How We Use Information We Collect
3.1. We Never Sell Personal Information
We will never sell your Personal Information to any third party.
3.2. Use of Personal Information
3.3. Use of Navigational Information
We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites and underlying marketing software. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about the Software Provider.
3.4. Customer Testimonials and Comments
We post customer testimonials and comments on our Websites, which may contain Personal Information. We obtain each customer’s consent via email prior to posting the customer’s name and testimonial.
3.4. Use of Credit Card Information
We do not directly collect credit card information from you. We use a third-party service provider to manage credit card processing. This service provider is not permitted to store, retain, or use information you provide except for the sole purpose of credit card processing on our behalf.
3.5. Service Providers
We employ other companies and people to provide services to visitors to our Websites, such as the use of underlying marketing software, and may need to share your information with them to provide information, products or services to you. Examples may include removing repetitive information from prospect lists, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments, supplementing the information you provide us in order to provide you with better service, and providing customer service. In all cases where we share your information with such agents, we explicitly require the agent to acknowledge and adhere to our privacy and customer data handling policies.
3.6. Security of your Personal Information
We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your Personal Information from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. We secure the Personal Information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. When sensitive Personal Information (such as geo-location data) is collected on our Websites and/or transmitted to other websites, it is protected through the use of encryption, such as the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol.
If you have any questions about the security of your Personal Information, you can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at: Cookhouse Labs, 30-34 Duncan Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 1A1, Attention: Privacy.
3.7. Social Media Features
3.8. External Websites
3.9. Retention of Personal Information
We retain Personal Information that you provide us as long as we consider it potentially useful in contacting you about our services and products, or as needed to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements, and then we securely delete the information. We will delete this information from the servers at an earlier date if you so request, as described in the “Opting Out and Unsubscribing” section below.
If you have elected to receive marketing communications from us, we retain information about your marketing preferences for a reasonable period of time from the date you last expressed interest in our content, products, or services, such as when you last opened an email. We retain information derived from cookies and other tracking technologies for a reasonable period of time from the date such information was created.
3.10. International Transfer of Information
3.11. Corporate Events
If we (or our assets) are acquired by another company, whether by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or otherwise, that company would receive all information gathered on the Websites. In this event, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our Website, of any change in ownership, uses of your Personal Information, and choices you may have regarding your Personal Information.
3.12. Compelled Disclosure
We reserve the right to use or disclose your Personal Information if required by law or if we reasonably believe that use or disclosure is necessary to protect our rights; protect your safety or the safety of others; investigate fraud; or comply with a law, court order or legal process.
We use “cookies” to help you personalize your online experience. A cookie is a text file that is placed on your hard disk by a web server. Cookies are not used to run programs or deliver viruses to your computer. Cookies are uniquely assigned to you, and can only be read by a web server in the domain that issued the cookie to you. One of the primary purposes of cookies is to provide a convenience feature to save you time. The purpose of a cookie is to tell the web server that you have returned to a specific page. For example, if you personalize pages on our Websites, a cookie helps us to recall your specific information on subsequent visits. When you return to the same Website, the information you previously provided can be retrieved, so you can easily use the customized features.
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. If you choose to decline cookies, you may not be able to fully experience the interactive features of the Websites you visit. Cookhouse Labs keeps track of the Websites and pages you visit within Cookhouse Labs, in order to determine what portion of the Website is the most popular or most used. This data is used to deliver customized content and promotions within the Website to customers whose behavior indicates that they are interested in a particular subject area.
4.2. Log Files
We may collect demographic information, such as your postal or zip code, age, gender, preferences, interests and favorites using log files that are not associated with your name or other Personal Information. There is also information about your computer hardware and software that is automatically collected by us. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, internet service provider (ISP), the files viewed on our site (e.g., HTML pages, graphics, etc.), operating system, clickstream data, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used by Cookhouse Labs for marketing purposes, to maintain the quality of the Websites and to provide general statistics regarding use of the Website. For these purposes, we do link this automatically-collected data to Personal Information, such as name, email address, address and phone number.
4.3. Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)
We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. “web beacons” or “web bugs”), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of visitors to our Websites. In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients. This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.
4.5. Third Party Tracking Technologies
How to Access & Control Your Personal Data
5.1. Reviewing, Correcting and Removing Your Personal Information
Upon request Cookhouse Labs will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your Personal Information. You have the following rights with respect to that information:
To request access, correction, updates or deletion of your personal information;
To object to processing of your personal information;
To restrict processing of your personal information;
To request portability of your personal information; and
To opt out of being solicited by Cookhouse Labs,
To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at: email@example.com, or by postal mail at: Cookhouse Labs, 30-34 Duncan Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 1A1, Attention: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe, and notify you of the action we have taken.
If we have collected and process your personal information with your consent, then you can withdraw your consent at any time. Withdrawing your consent will not affect the lawfulness of any processing we conducted prior to your withdrawal, nor will it affect processing of your personal information conducted in reliance on lawful processing grounds other than consent.
You have the right to complain to a data protection authority about our collection and use of your personal information.
5.2. Anti-Spam Policy
Our Acceptable Use Policy, at: www.cookhouselab.com/casl-acceptable-use, applies to us and, among other things, prohibits us from sending unsolicited commercial email in violation of applicable laws, and requires the inclusion of an “opt-out” mechanism in any commercial electronic messages that we send.
5.3. To Unsubscribe From Our Communications
You may unsubscribe from our marketing communications by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located on the bottom of our commercial electronic messages, contacting us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at: Cookhouse Labs, 30-34 Duncan Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 1A1, Attention: Privacy.