Approximately 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and insurance company executives will gather this fall at the InsureTech Connect 2016 conference in Las Vegas with an eye toward creating partnerships and driving innovation.
No matter how you spell it – insuretech, insurtech or instech – the combination of insurance and technology and its potential to modernize the industry is booming, much as “fintech” did in the banking sector in the past decade.
Insurance has not traditionally been known as a tech-savvy industry, perpetually stuck in “catch-up” mode compared to other industries. This has made it challenging for insurance companies to disrupt the status quo, and the lack of a tech-focused event of any real scale in the U.S. certainly hasn’t helped. The people behind the inaugural InsureTech Connect conference have an eye on moving the needle, and are hard at work to make that a reality when the event premieres Oct. 5-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“What has been missing and where we started from the get-go was to create an event global in focus, one both comprehensive in scope but at the same time has a curated feel,” says Jay Weintraub, Founder of InsureTech Connect.
Weintraub aims to create an event where each moment – whether part of a breakout session, networking with others or learning about interesting companies during the expo, will feel distilled as though a year’s worth of experiences were packed into two days’ time.“It feels like there’s a real gap here. We can help catalyze; help incubate this budding ecosystem,” says Caribou Honig, founding partner at venture capital investor QED Investors and the other driving force in the joint venture behind the creation of InsureTech Connect alongside Weintraub.
Honig says that about 10 months ago, he began “leaning in harder” to the insurance space from a venture capital investing perspective, and in doing so sought out conferences that bring together entrepreneurs, insurers, and venture capital firms keen on the insurance space.
“I looked around and I could not find anything terribly compelling. So I ended up getting connected with Jay, who’s put together several conferences over his career,” Honig says. “If there isn’t a conference like this, maybe we can just create it. So that’s what we did.”
Weintraub has operated in the customer acquisition world since the original dot-com expansion, and in 2014 founded Grow.co, the largest community of acquisition-oriented marketing professionals and brands that hosts local gatherings and national summits. He also founded and sold LeadsCon, the definitive conference for vertical media, online lead gen and direct response marketing.
With InsureTech Connect, Weintraub says he wants attendees to walk away with the feeling that they have experienced a transformation: Know who matters, what matters, and what they can do to push forward their business.
“I think most important, more than just the size and perhaps as important as the breadth of leaders in attendance is the goal. It isn’t about disruption. It isn’t about startups that will eat the world of insurance as we know it,” Weintraub says. “Creating an environment of ‘us versus them’ won’t solve the fundamental issue, that the world is changing, consumers are demanding more, and if we are to serve the consumers how they want to be served it means not just innovation but partnerships. And, so our primary focus is to foster both continued innovation but make sure that the innovation gets in the hands of the users.”
Honig says they are looking to create a thought-provoking event that will push the intellectual envelope for everyone, while connecting entrepreneurs with technology execs from insurance companies and the VC firms that can back their ambitions.
“Really this works if we get all three of those constituents together,” Honig says. “The VCs should go there if all the right entrepreneurs and all the right innovators within the existing players are there. The entrepreneurs should go if there’s a bunch of VCs they can pitch, and if there’s a bunch of the incumbents to partner with. And all the incumbents – their innovation teams should go to see what the bleeding edge looks like from the entrepreneurs and see what their peer group is doing.”
The event is being set up to create the most conducive environment for the different constituents to identify one another and figure out if a partnership makes sense. “I think it’s really about getting all three of those groups together with the right mechanisms to be able to connect with each other – share perspective, do deals, make news,” Honig says. “I think we’ll have the space and the ability to use the space to really create some good breakout areas for people to be able to find each other and connect.”
Honig also stressed that the event’s program will have a wide-ranging industry focus as opposed to a narrower scope.
“We’re not trying to be just marketing; we’re not trying to be just data and underwriting; we’re not trying to just be ‘where’s the capital coming from?’” Honig says. “What will make it the best conference will be having people from every part of that value chain. It’s on us to make sure we have a couple of tracks running in parallel to make sure there will be presentations that will be relevant to everyone there.”
While the full conference agenda and speaker lineup will be released in coming weeks, an extensive list of program topics is currently available at the InsureTech Connect website.
“There’s a lot going on in the insurance space right now that reminds us of where the banking side was five or 10 years ago,” Honig says. “But that also means that there’s a need to help bring together the different constituents to support that.”
Las Vegas provides the ideal spot for getting the Silicon Valley crowd together with the insurance industry incumbents. “Everyone can get to Vegas – it’s neutral territory,” Honig says. “Everyone is hungry for it. Everyone is seeing the opportunity. We’re bringing the whole audience together.”
Interested in attending InsureTech Connect? Please visit this link for a discounted (through May 31) registration offer: http://www.insuretechconnect.com/insurance-forums-2016/