Andrew, InsurTech Ohio is celebrating, believe it or not, its five-year anniversary. What are you particularly proud of in that time span?
“It's hard to believe it's already been five years. From the beginning, we’ve been striving to keep our community growing and people interacting with it. When we set out with that mission, we thought it was a bit ambitious, especially with other groups that were coming around at that time. We had seen this happen more for business development or one specific part of the ecosystem. When that happens, those tend to exist for one or two years, and then they run their course. That’s the most important thing from our perspective; we’re five years out and still in hyper-growth mode.
More importantly, we haven't even uncovered most of the insurance professionals in Ohio. That spurs us on for the next five or even 10 years. We've met a lot of really interesting people, talked with them during our happy hours, seen them at events and conferences and interacted with them online through our forum and articles. But, there's still a group we haven't engaged with, and those are professionals we haven't inspired yet to lead the next wave of innovation happening in the industry. That's what drives us forward.”
How do you see the success of insurance and insurtech communities outside of our state proving the value of these groups?
“That's an important part of the growth of local communities in the ecosystem. Some of us have grown together, and those are the ones that are more mature in the things that they're doing from event scheduling to interactions with people in the industry. There's ones that have grown up a little more slowly or are just coming into their own across the country too, and these aren't any less important than the things that we're doing. They have very interesting communities, and each community brings its own strength.
There are communities that are stronger on the investor ecosystem front, while there are communities that are stronger on the carrier or startup fronts. As we look toward the future and think about how we come together to build an even bigger ecosystem, it's important to think about the specializations that smaller communities bring into the fold.”
What are some of the exciting ways in which you see these communities working together or think that they could be working together?
“Behind the scenes, we all know each other. We work together, see each other at conferences and share connections or introductions that help each community grow. In the past, we've done things like working on different spotlight interviews with those organizations, trying to highlight what they want to highlight. This could be from a startup perspective, what they're doing at an event or a conference front too.
We enjoy being supportive, and we've seen that support return to us as well. Into the future, there's an opportunity to formalize these relationships and reap the benefits of creating a larger group that’s aligned on the same mission, much like the mission that we've built over the last five years. We're looking forward to thinking about those things and working toward the goal of bringing everyone together.”
Where do you think InsurTech Ohio and similar communities’ focus on innovation and leadership will ultimately go? How big could this get?
“The good news is we are in a great time in the insurance innovation cycle. While it's been around a long time, some of the technologies adopted and that still need to be adopted aren't the most complex. The industry is complex, and those industries with that complexity take time to adopt new technologies. Once they're adopted, the impact is pretty substantial, so all that to say, we're just getting started. There's a lot for us to do on the innovation front from a community perspective.
One of my passions has always been creating and supporting the next wave of innovation. We're starting to do things more programmatically by showcasing startups and getting companies involved in a more structured format. That's where we head from an innovation standpoint, which then develops new parts of the ecosystem that you need to engage and gets young talent interested in the industry as well.
From a leadership standpoint, you'll continue to see small, niche communities like this driving the leadership in the industry. Early on, there had been big organizations built around conferences that were doing some of the same things as us. The tables have turned in a sense, and all people are finding that relationships are more engaging at a local level, and when you're able to engage at a local level, you're able to influence more and have a bigger impact on the future of the industry. I'm really excited and looking forward to seeing where we go in the next five years.”