Jay Weintraub is Co-Founder & CEO of InsureTech Connect (ITC), the largest, most focused, and relevant gathering of insurance industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors. Jay was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Community Leader at InsurTech Ohio and Partner at PolicyFly, Inc.
Jay, I would imagine it’s a trying time for InsureTech Connect as you adjust ITC from the industry’s largest in-person event to an all-digital experience this year.
“There’s so much of this year where we’re effectively creating ideas and executions from scratch, and trying to showcase an entirely new product, new format and new delivery. It’s requiring a whole set of skills that we’ve never had before, which I think has also been great.
I think a bad outcome of all of this would be to have spent what is going to be an insanely busy next 12 weeks and walk away from it with no new skills learned that we can use in the future.”
I appreciate that you’re approaching this situation from a positive point-of-view. We all have had to adjust regardless of our day-to-day job and life. I think people would love to know how you maintain your optimistic outlook?
“We’ve had sufficient time to kick and scream. There was plenty of time at the beginning of March until now to go through the normal stages of grief.
The first week of March we said ‘things will be fine by September.’ I forget exactly when it was, maybe the middle of April, and at some point you realize, ‘Wow!’, this thing is going to hit us. It’s almost like tracking a hurricane. At the beginning you look at the path and you’re thinking no way is this going to affect me, but it keeps turning and going, and all of sudden you’re in the eye of the storm.
But someone I really admire once told me ‘everything has advantages, it’s not always disadvantages.’ So you sit there and tell yourself to find those advantages.”
What are some of the advantages that you believe digital brings?
“Digital exposes you to a broader pool of people. It’s a wonderful format for creating initial engagement and I think it allows for professionals across long distances to cultivate a connection.
If we extrapolate what ITC is as a platform versus only an in-person event, we free ourselves up to new opportunities to represent the great work of other people in the insurance industry.
Listen, do I have a strong preference for doing an in-person event? I absolutely do. I love it. We’re human beings, we’re social creatures and as much as I enjoy consuming digital content for entertainment and learning, it’s the relationships with friends and family that bring me the greatest joys in life. So we’re going to work extra hard this year to bring that value into a digital space by introducing our ‘September to Remember’ featuring two brand new virtual events — ITC World Tour and ITC Global.”
Before we dive into these new virtual events, I’m curious for your opinion on what’s made ITC so popular?
“When I describe our event, I tend to often talk about it like a mirror. A mirror is a reflection and so ITC, if we do it right, should be a reflection that the industry sees themselves within. And if we do it really well it should be a reflection of the best version of the industry, maybe even a reflection of something the industry aspires to be and is on its way to becoming. I think that one of the key reasons we’ve been successful at this is because we genuinely care about the value that’s created from the event.
The success of the event is not how many people that were there. It’s the stories of success that result from people being there. It’s an attention towards making sure that the right people are there and then caring enough to ask, ‘how can I increase the value of the event for each of them?’
Event planning can be fairly commoditized, but our love of the people in the industry, our commitment to have the right people and our effort to ensure they have a productive time sets us apart.”
I’d also love to know, since ITC plays a huge role in the announcement of new innovations, do you see the insurance industry’s change as more revolutionary or more of a methodical progress?
“I love that question because I think it’s the revolutionary innovation that captures the imagination, but I suspect that if we look at the things that last, it might look revolutionary, but it’s been the result of methodical progress.”
Let’s dive into the ITC World Tour and ITC Global, what are you most excited about with these virtual events?
“One of the most unique attributes of a virtual event is the ability to see the world without having to travel the world. If you want to understand what insuretech looks like across the globe then this is an opportunity to take a digital journey where we shine a spotlight on a region.
We understand that the day-to-day commitments of work might prevent people from watching every moment of content live as it happens,, but the beauty of digital is that the content will live on so even if you can’t join to watch an event live, the content will be available on-demand thereafter. There will also be opportunities for digital networking at every stop.
With ITC Global, we realized that not everyone can get to Vegas so we want to bring an immersive 24-hours-a-day experience online, so we’re essentially bringing Vegas to the world.
The World Tour in particular is an opportunity to shine more on the local communities. I think from a storytelling point of view we could do one or two of these per month, but we wanted to mimic the experience of walking the hall and bring these stories together more tightly so that you can sense the global nature of it.
I think it’s a powerful opportunity to realize how much is happening around the world and it helps showcase why insuretch is the biggest trend in insurance.”
How have these regional communities responded to the opportunity to work with ITC and the World Tour?
“We’ve approached it with a partnership first mindset. This is a collection of virtual local community events that we’re teaming up on.
I think these local insuretech communities have always been a key part of what’s made ITC so special. I think communities like InsurTech Ohio have always been so gracious to talk about what we’re doing and promoting ITC in Vegas. Our success is largely a result of great partnerships with local communities and it underscores our excitement to bring that spotlight to the evolution occurring in each of their own backyards.”