Alumni perspective: How the Fintech Innovation Lab invited ODN into the insurance industry

10.30.2019 - New York

Written by Carey Anne Nadeau, Founder and CEO of ODN

It wasn’t easy for me, as an outsider, to break into an industry that is relationship-driven like insurance. You can have all the credentials in the world, which for my company, ODN, was an established product, paying customers, and an MIT degree in tow – but without introductions to the right people and sponsors invested in your success, it’s difficult to breakthrough.

At the outset of the FinTech Innovation Lab, I knew that ODN had a product that could transform insurance for the better. We had established a new methodology to measure the environmental hazards of driving, and city and state governments were already using our AI-driven crash predictions to inform their own traffic safety initiatives like Vision Zero. What we didn’t know was how carriers might adopt a similar approach to mitigate risk, delight customers and drive down losses.

The Lab quite literally put our hands into the palm of the right people, making introductions that would forever change the course of ODN.

12 weeks, 125 meetings

What makes the Lab program unique is that it is not just an accelerator, but a lifelong induction into the insurance industry. During the 12-week program, we set up 125 meetings with the 7 carriers and brokers who selected ODN from a pool of hundreds of companies.

This culminated in a successful pilot with a carrier —a major milestone for our business – and enabled us to develop a new product offering to educate customers about where it is unsafe to drive and increase the precision of underwriting. Further, by rating drivers based on where they drive instead of where they live, we demonstrated to state regulators that our methodology could significantly reduce disproportionate discrimination for immigrants, young people, and people of color.

Most importantly, we earned the credibility and introductions we needed to scale our business into the insurance industry to even more auto-insurance carriers, telemetry providers, and state regulators.

More than an accelerator program

I recommend the FinTech Innovation Lab program for businesses looking for a way to meet the key players in the insurance industry and to refine their products for commercialization. We’ve taken part in a number of accelerator and incubation programs over the years, and the Lab ranks among the best of them.

I believe that carriers and brokers hold the Lab in such high esteem because they get access to diverse ideas, startups, technologies and people, many of which originate from outside the industry. And they want to help the businesses they select to flourish and succeed in insurance. So, my advice to the insurtech Class of 2020 is to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and build relationships with insurance carriers and brokers, and to keep building on those relationships once the program is over, which is when those relationships can get even stronger.

Best of luck to the startups applying to be part of the 2020 class. I am certain they will find it be an invaluable opportunity to accelerate their growth and meet customers that can benefit from their products.