VentureClash provides early-stage companies worldwide with an opportunity to grow their business in Connecticut. The goal is to help speed Digital Health, FinTech, InsurTech and Internet of Things (IoT) innovations to market by awarding capital to promising early-stage companies.
At the $5 million pitch competition, early-stage companies are joined by experts, investors, entrepreneurs, customers, and educators where finalists will pitch to a panel of judges. With the recognition that it takes more than money to succeed, competitors also receive access to a critical network of customers, investors, mentors, and talent.
Bought By Many CEO & Co-Founder Steven Mendel shared information about the company’s innovative InsurTech products and plans for the future.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: When and why did Bought By Many launch?
STEVEN MENDEL: Bought By Many launched in 2012. I founded it with Guy Farley, who I’d met at Close Brothers Group, a U.K.-based merchant banking group. I came up with the business concept when I left a corporate job and tried to get the same healthcare package I was receiving with company benefits.
It was the same insurer, family, and product, but it was four times more expensive to buy it on my own than as part of my employment.
While there is an extra admin cost involved in dealing with an individual, it’s mostly about the balance of power.
SM: The mission of Bought By Many was to level the insurance playing field, rounding up groups of individuals to give them greater buying power.
We still negotiate deals for our groups but we found many of our members raised issues about fundamental problems and gaps in cover in existing insurance products. That led us to start designing our own insurance products.
IDH: Tell us about your products What makes them innovative?
SM: We launched our own pet insurance this year. It has a range of policies with unique features, such as money back if you don’t claim and cover for pre-existing medical conditions. We plan to launch products in other lines of insurance soon.
Bought By Many also works with international partners. We offer a range of services, including analysis of millions of lines of online insurance searches to identify gaps in regional markets that partners could focus on.
We use online insurance search data to find gaps in the market so we can create groups for people with specific insurance needs. We then either negotiate deals with insurers or create our own products for members of our groups.
Bought By Many also uses social media to identify audiences with similar insurance and micro-target them with advertisements for our unique products.
IDH: What challenges do international businesses face when trying to establish a presence in the United States? Why is Connecticut a good fit?
SM: From our research, one of the biggest barriers to insurance innovation in the United States is state-by-state financial regulation. It can increase setup costs and slow growth.
From what we’ve seen, Connecticut has a lot of insurance and InsurTech talent. For businesses looking to expand internationally it’s important to find people who have the right skills, knowledge of the industry, and (this is often overlooked) fit in with the company’s culture.
Connecticut’s location is also beneficial for European companies. Because it’s on the east coast there is a good cross-over of business hours.
IDH: How did Bought By Many become involved with VentureClash?
SM: Someone from the New York office of Octopus Ventures (one of our investors) suggested we enter.
Having only heard about VentureClash a few days before the entry deadline, we’re delighted to have progressed so far in the competition. It’s great to know we’re recognized as one of Europe’s leading InsurTech companies by organizations and competitions in other countries. We’re looking forward to meeting the other firms in the competition at the final event.
IDH: What do you hope to gain from the experience of participating in VentureClash?
SM: We entered to raise our profile outside of the United Kingdom and gain contacts who will be able to help with a soft landing if we do decide to launch in the United States.
It’s also been great to think about the questions VentureClash has asked us and how we present ourselves. It fosters team learning and is a good way to highlight and celebrate our achievements.
IDH: Where do you hope to see the company in one year’s time?
SM: Bought By Many will continue to grow. We have more than 380,000 members and we expect to add hundreds of thousands more to that number in the next year. We will launch new products and explore how we can help individuals find better insurance in other countries.
For more information about Bought By Many, visit boughtbymany.com
Learn about other VentureClash 2017 finalists:
- VentureClash Announces Winners of Global Investment Challenge
- FRISS: InsurTech Startup from The Netherlands is a VentureClash Finalist
- Telespec: Canadian IoT Startup is a VentureClash Finalist
- Israeli IoT Startup Second Place VentureClash Winner
Managed by Connecticut Innovations, VentureClash is Connecticut’s global venture challenge focused on early-stage companies. The challenge, launched in 2016, identifies high-potential companies in digital health, IoT, InsureTech and FinTech that will compete for investments from a $5 million award pool. Visit www.ventureclash.com to learn about qualifications, requirements, guidelines, and how to apply.
About Connecticut Innovations
Connecticut Innovations provides venture capital and strategic support for innovative, early-stage technology companies; financial support for innovation and collaboration; and connections to its well-established network of partners and professionals. For more information, visit www.ctinnovations.com or read our interview with Connecticut Innovations CEO Matt McCooe.