Applications have just opened for the 2019 program of the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars. I feel incredibly proud of our 2018 companies and the amazing Techstars and MetLife teams for a successful first year—and I’m looking forward to selecting ten new companies for this year’s class. A lot of entrepreneurs ask me what we look for when evaluating companies. I can understand that the selection process can sometimes feel like a black box for founders. Hopefully this post will help unpack that box for you!
For the 2019 class, we will continue to define insurtech broadly and search for companies globally. In particular, we are interested in insurtech entrepreneurs focused on:
- Customers: For example, solutions to support freelancers and those who participate in the gig or sharing economies.
- Products: For example, new approaches to deliver employee benefits or experiences that will support the financial, emotional, or physical health of customers.
- Process: For example, new ways to underwrite/manage risk or technologies to accelerate integration across industry partners.
Don’t feel confined by these subthemes. If you’re working on something interesting in the insurtech space, you should apply.
We are stage agnostic, which means companies join Techstars at all different stages. For example, PillPack and SendGrid both joined Techstars as pre-product companies. Other companies have raised over $15 million prior to joining Techstars. Don’t think you are too early or too late.
Team, Team, Team
At Techstars, we have six criteria for selection, and the first three are 1) Team, 2) Team, 3) Team. That’s right—we literally list ‘team’ thrice. I won’t even touch on the other criteria in this post. So, what do we look for in teams? Here are the top three things I look for in founders:
- Can you execute? We look for signs that you can execute fast. Do you just talk about doing things or do you actually get them done? Sometimes we can gauge this by projects or companies you have built in the past. Another way I gauge this is by hearing updates from you throughout the application period on the progress you make building your company. If you send update emails to your network or investors already, add me to them. I won’t respond to them, but I will track your progress. When it comes to your application, you’ll have a leg up over the other applicants if you’ve demonstrated your ability to execute. To get my email address, fill out this office hour request form.
- Are you resourceful? The best entrepreneurs know how to best utilize the resources that are available to them. After joining Techstars, your network will literally explode with mentors from our program and the broader Techstars and MetLife worldwide community. You’ll learn from subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs, MetLife executives, and investors. We want founders who will maximize these resources to accelerate their growth. You can throw all the best resources at a startup, but if the team isn’t resourceful, all of that support will go to waste.
- Are you open to feedback? One of the biggest benefits of joining Techstars is learning from incredible mentors and peers who sincerely want you to succeed. You will be receiving a ton of brutally honest feedback from our mentors, the other founders, and me throughout the three months. Some A lot of this feedback will be hard to hear. We give you the feedback, because we want you to succeed. Are you open to receiving feedback? Are you intellectually honest? Do you get defensive? At the end of the day, you ultimately make the final decisions for your company, and we’ll respect your decision and support you no matter what. However, if you aren’t even open to hearing feedback, then you’ll limit your growth and acceleration.
I look forward to reading your application for the MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars!
- See more info and apply for our program here.
- Request office hours with me here.
- Register for our live Ask Me Anything (AMA) virtual session on Feb 5th here.
- Send me those update emails!
We are excited to announce Techstars Class 140, the 10 companies that are joining the 2018 MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars in Cary, North Carolina. We spent the past six months searching the globe to look for the best Insurtech entrepreneurs to invite into our inaugural class. Our 10 companies are joining us from all corners of the United States and the globe including Boulder, London, Los Angeles, Richmond, San Jose and Singapore. Our entrepreneurs have diverse backgrounds as game developers, data scientists, insurance veterans, and more.
All 10 companies have relocated to Raleigh-Durham for the program. We kicked things off on July 16th, 2018 and will be working closely with these teams to help them accelerate their businesses during the next three months. Our program will cap off with Demo Day on Thursday, October 18th, 2018. We love Raleigh-Durham and know that 2018 is going to be an amazing year for Techstars, our companies, and the Triangle! Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re grateful for your generosity in giving your time and expertise to help our companies. We couldn’t do it without you.
Without further ado, here are the companies for the 2018 MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars:
|Aligned Business (Singapore)
An end-to-end digital platform that enables carriers to rapidly create, define, underwrite and distribute any category of insurance product to any market.
AnswersNOW (Richmond, VA)
Platform that supports parents of children on the autism spectrum by pairing them with their own personal certified expert and providing clinical interventions.
Buddy (Richmond, VA)
On-demand accident insurance to enable people to explore the world and have adventures.
Enroll Hero (Santa Monica, CA)
Personalized recommendation tool that helps seniors pick the perfect Medicare plan in seconds.
FitBliss (San Jose, CA)
Digital wellbeing platform to optimize health and productivity for the global workforce.
FIX: Fitness Interactive Experience (Atlanta, GA)
Pioneer in Health Entertainment, delivering a unique blend of gameplay and health behavior change.
Halos Insurance (Washington, D.C.)
World’s first consumer insurance platform exclusively designed for nearly accident-free, low-risk consumers.
MamaMend (Boulder, CO)
Digital health platform and postpartum guide that informs, empowers and improves health outcomes for new moms.
Portabl (London, UK)
A comprehensive subscription service that protects freelancers and gig workers with personalized insurance and savings products and other benefits.
Safely (Atlanta, GA)
Through data analytics, background checks, and a contributory database, Safely provides $1M of commercial insurance for property managers and homeowners who rent on Airbnb and HomeAway.
Techstars and MetLife have signed a partnership agreement to run a mentorship-driven accelerator in Cary, North Carolina, to help InsurTech founders do more faster. The MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars, will run in Q3 2018 with applications opening on January 8th, 2018. I’m excited to announce that I will be the managing director of the program.
The MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars, will focus on innovating in the insurance industry – an industry of massive size and reach with global insurance premiums of $4.5 trillion in 2015. The 10 InsurTech startups selected for this program will gain deep connections with MetLife, $120,000 in funding, and engagement with our extensive mentor network.
What makes InsurTech so exciting is the wide reach and breadth of what it encompasses. We are interested in any business that touches the world of insurance. Some of our specific interests include health and wellness (as it pertains to financial and lifestyle), the gig and sharing economy, benefits marketplaces, and rethinking underwriting. We’re positive that we will meet great entrepreneurs who are working on themes not listed here, and we welcome those conversations.
I am looking forward to working with the brightest minds in InsurTech through this new accelerator. Here are some of the top reasons I’m so excited about this program:
MetLife is a powerhouse as a Fortune 42 company and one of the world’s leading financial services companies with operations in over 40 countries. In 2015, MetLife was named the World’s Most Admired Life Insurance Company by Fortune Magazine and AM Best recently recognized MetLife for its transformation. MetLife’s leadership has continued to invest in innovation over the years and already has a successful track record of partnering with startups.
MetLife is a limited partner in over a dozen of Silicon Valley’s top venture funds and recently announced a $100m co-investment fund to make strategic investments in top entrepreneurs. In Cary, North Carolina, MetLife has built a Global Technology Campus with 1,500 technologists recruited from around the world.
I’ve been incredibly impressed by MetLife’s commitment to innovation and couldn’t have asked for a better partner for this accelerator. The startups accepted into our program will gain unprecedented direct access and mentoring from MetLife’s global senior leaders and have the opportunity to pursue pilots and partnerships at an accelerated pace.
Raleigh-Durham is the fourth fastest growing region in America according to Forbes. There are about 64 new people moving to the greater Raleigh area every single day and there is no shortage of top rankings that this area has received, including being ranked a top 10 best city to live in. Raleigh-Durham is also a top five region in terms of generating the best VC returns, ahead of cities like NYC and Boston. And it’s no surprise that Forbes ranks Raleigh as the #2 most educated city in the country; it’s home to Research Triangle Park composed of tier-one research universities Duke University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Raleigh was also recently named the fourth best city for fostering entrepreneurial growth. Our accelerator program will be located in MetLife’s Global Technology Campus in Cary – right in the center of all this action.
Since its inception in 2007, Techstars has worked with the world’s top entrepreneurs. In 2015, Techstars companies represented 5% of all Series A deals. The Techstars’ portfolio overall has a strong track record – 90% of Techstars companies have exited or are in active operations. Techstars has a global network of 10,000+ deeply engaged mentors, investors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. Finally, Techstars Ventures supports a portion of the Techstars portfolio with follow-on funding at seed, Series A, and beyond. There are a number of Insurtech startups in the Techstars portfolio already, including DataRobot, Muzzley, Cuvva, Pillar, and more. We’re excited about expanding our Insurtech focus through this new partnership with MetLife and looking forward to working with top Insurtech entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, this program will be awesome. Sign up for updates on webinars, news on the application process, and where you can meet me as I tour the world looking for the world’s leading InsurTech startups to join Techstars!
You can also sign up for Office Hours to meet with the team of the MetLife Digital Accelerator, powered by Techstars.