With Hartford InsurTech Hub’s Demo Day coming up on April 18 at the Belding Theatre in Hartford, Program Director Erika Bothma and Startupbootcamp InsurTech CEO Sabine VanderLinden reflect on the success of the Accelerator program and its impact on driving a startup culture within Hartford’s insurance community.
Tell us about Demo Day:
Demo Day will be an event to celebrate the startups that came into the InsurTech Accelerator program and will be an opportunity for them to showcase the evolution and progress they’ve made during the three months of the program. During this period, they have not only worked with a series of experts to refine their propositions, but also made great strides towards creating pilot relationships with insurer partners. The startups will present their new and refined propositions onstage in front of a group of delegates and attendees, including investors and insurers from within the community and beyond, who could become future customers or investors of the startups. Demo Day will also be a great occasion for investors to identify the startups they want to invest in and drive deal flow.
What are your thoughts on how the Accelerator program has worked in Hartford?
We are really excited about the level of interest in Hartford and the surrounding area. We brought in 10 startups for the Accelerator program, which commenced at the beginning of the year. We’ve had so much interest from insurance companies, from both our partners as well as other corporates in the area. We have been working with many experts from across the insurance industry, including individuals who are either currently in insurance or have worked in the industry prior to moving to consulting or becoming freelancers. We have built a strong network of mentors in the area eager to work with the startups and, ultimately, help further develop the community we are creating here.
Why do you think the program has found success in Hartford?
There is a very welcoming and friendly community of people in Hartford. The city is full of people who have been open to telling us where we should be going and what we should experience while here. We have found that people are very eager to help us and the startups make new connections. They have introduced us to people they believe we should know and should be in contact with, and that’s been invaluable in making an impression and creating a strong community here in Hartford.
What impact do you think the Accelerator program will have in the city over time?
We hope that we will be able to further innovation. By enabling the startups to work alongside the corporations investing in the program, they create a series of projects and pilots to work on together, which make startups more inclined to stay in the city and set up their businesses here. We also hope the program will encourage young talent and university students to consider becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. We hope they will see that starting a business is a viable option, and work with the Accelerator as a means to help them shape a sustainable value proposition in the future.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the startups involved in Demo Day?
First and foremost, we want them to celebrate the learning they have gone through to make their business insurance-ready to increase their chances to winning projects with establishes corporations. From that we hope they will see Hartford as another base for their business expansion. Many of the startups have already had great experiences in Hartford. They have been interacting with the local community and have come to realize that Hartford is a great place to do business with genuine and approachable people. The proximity to Stamford and Boston is also very appealing. For these startups, Hartford can also be an ideal place to base themselves. The city is affordable for young businesses trying to manage their costs, making it an environment that would potentially allow them to build a business, without consuming too many of their resources in the short term.
How do you intend to keep momentum going once Demo Day comes and goes?
We will continue engaging with the community. Part of the work we are doing here through the Accelerator, beyond creating startups with sustainable business models, is developing an ecosystem in collaboration with local partners. We want to entice startups from overseas to come and visit Hartford, so we will keep the momentum going with more events and initiatives, such as hackathons, all of which will get people excited about innovation happening in the city.
We will also start working on the next Accelerator program. Since we launched Hartford InsurTech Hub in 2017, we have refined our way of operating to fit this unique environment. We are taking those learnings and experiences forward, and looking to build an even better program for the year ahead. Finally, we want to continue working with the local universities, some of whom have designed InsurTech-focused courses. It is really important to show students in the region that there are great opportunities and reasons to stay here.
For all the details and to register to attend Demo Day, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hartford-insurtech-hub-demo-day-2018-tickets-42255399036