Media

Hartford area business accelerators regain some momentum in new post-COVID landscape

Two years after the pandemic forced many to close or shift their operations, Hartford area startup accelerator and incubator programs are hoping to bounce back in a changed landscape spurred by the return of in-person events.

Hartford’s efforts to develop a startup ecosystem were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some accelerator programs going to a remote model, or simply shutting down altogether.

In recent months, however, new accelerator programs have popped up, and some that existed pre-pandemic relaunched in-person operations with the goal of helping startups get off the ground, and showcasing Hartford as a landing spot for entrepreneurs looking to add jobs and spur new economic activity.

The larger question still is whether Hartford can become a hub of startup activity, similar to the way New Haven has given rise to the bioscience industry and Stamford is gaining traction with fintech companies.

Paul Tyler

“I’m completely bullish on it,” said Paul Tyler, chief marketing officer at Nassau Financial Group, speaking about Hartford’s potential as a tech hub. “I just think it’s gonna look different than what people expect.”

Nassau Financial Group runs the Nassau Re/Imagine incubator out of its Boat Building offices in downtown Hartford. Tyler said he thinks the accelerator and incubator space will be more centered around events, conferences and person-to-person networking, rather than temporarily moving companies to its Hartford offices, as the world grapples with a post-COVID hybrid work environment.

“It’s not going to happen in a cubicle, it’s just not,” Tyler said.

Startup accelerators have traditionally offered education, mentorship, financing and some sort of office space to early-stage companies. Pre-pandemic, several accelerators were operating in Hartford and brought dozens of early-stage companies to the city, where entrepreneurs interacted with mentors, consultants, local colleges and some of the larger corporate employers interested in testing their wares or ideas.

Startupbootcamp, a London-based company that was hired to run two Hartford accelerator programs focused on grooming insurance and healthcare tech firms, left the market in 2020. A startup accelerator hosted by New Britain toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker this year moved to Baltimore after operating in Hartford for the past three years.

Organizations like reSET and Launc[H] are trying to recapture the momentum.

ReSET is a social enterprise incubator that has returned to in-person events for its 2022 Impact Accelerator program, which lasts three months and includes 11 socially-conscious startups, ranging from a Hartford-based publishing service (Lauren Simone Publishing) to a natural body care company (Ital Creations).

ReSET’s Venture Showcase event, which will take place June 23 at the Connecticut Science Center, will allow entrepreneurs to share their updated business plans and vision for growth in front of investors and other business stakeholders.

“The goal here is to really make sure these folks are walking away with a lot of great new connections, networks and some financing,” said Sarah Bodley, reSET’s executive director. “We’re actually able to distribute $15,000 in cash prizes this year to [our 2022] cohort, … and the goal here is that this is kind of launching them into their next phase of growth.”

Sarah Bodley

The Impact Accelerator operates out of reSET’s Park Street coworking space. Since its 2007 founding, 143 businesses have participated in the program.

Bodley said the coworking space saw a dip in memberships during the pandemic, but the numbers have gone back up recently. All of reSET’s private offices are currently occupied with between 30 to 40 active members, she said.

“I think folks are itching to get out of their homes, but not necessarily go back to the office so coworking is an interesting alternative to a coffee shop or a library,” Bodley said.

Striking a balance

Launc[H], a business and entrepreneur support group, announced in April that it’s partnering with Silicon Valley-based accelerator Plug and Play Health to work with five startups to evolve and grow their businesses.

Launc[H] Director Michelle Cote said that prior to March 2020, her organization focused on bringing startups to the city for in-person programming, but when travel shut down everything changed.

“The pandemic had a huge impact,” Cote said. “Even if they had a small outpost here in Hartford, through any of the facilities that cater to early-stage companies, having a physical presence in the city became really difficult to maintain.”

Michelle Cote

Now, the organization has a mix of in-person and online programming. In early May, Launc[H] partnered with InsurTech Hartford to bring 48 companies to the city for a symposium. Cote said the current accelerator with Plug and Play Health is online, so companies can continue to work virtually from home.

Out of the five startups, only one is based in Connecticut — Stamford’s NourishedRx, a digital health company that uses artificial intelligence to match members with personalized meal and grocery offerings.

Cote said programs like the Plug and Play collaboration strike a balance between supporting startups while also helping build Hartford’s brand as a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. Hartford-based organizations — including Hartford HealthCare and Trinity College — will offer feedback to participating startups and show them what opportunities the city has to offer as they grow their business.

“We’re working on some opportunities for them to come physically spend time in the city and think of growth strategies that would include a meaningful presence in Hartford,” Cote said.

International reach

In May, The Bridge Healing Arts Center in Farmington hosted its first Well4Tech Bootcamp for startups, and CEO Yisroel Rabinowitz said he hopes to turn the program into a regular event.

Or Haviv, a partner and head of global ventures at Arieli Capital, which was a partner in The Bridge Healing Arts Center’s recent Well4Tech Bootcamp accelerator.

The Bridge announced in May it was collaborating with Arieli Capital, a U.S. and Israeli holding and investment company, to launch the international Well4Tech Bootcamp for technology startups in the physical therapy and mental health fields. Rabinowitz said Arieli has held similar bootcamps in Israel and Italy but this was its first collaboration in America.

“Heath and wellness has become such a huge market, especially as we’re coming out of COVID, so we wanted to try and attract technology startups in those fields,” said Rabinowitz, who has also been an active investor in Hartford real estate and is CEO of development firm Universal Enterprise. He purchased The Bridge building at 304 Main St. in 2015 for $1.4 million.

Six companies from Europe, Israel and the U.S. participated in meetings with investors and industry leaders that culminated in a May 26 pitch event. Companies had investment opportunities during the bootcamp, and were offered office space for up to one year as part of the program.

Alexandra Dantzig, co-founder of fitness software company JET SWEAT, came from Manhattan to participate in the bootcamp.

“It was really great to be a part of this pitch day because we’re in our first fundraising round now, so we’re excited to get some expansion capital to scale the business,” Dantzig said.

JET SWEAT helps connect boutique fitness studios and professionals with customers using a proprietary video streaming software, allowing them to grow and compete with bigger companies like Peloton. Dantzig said her JET SWEAT has many part-time employees but hopes to expand the team after raising money.

Maya Dayan and her brother, Kfir Dayan, traveled from Israel to showcase their parenting technology company Jama. The duo are fundraising so they can expand their footprint into the U.S. They said it was their first time networking in the country.

Jama — a phone application for new parents to share tips, tricks and ideas — has about 50,000 users in Israel, but the company is ready to look globally after launching in 2020. Connecticut could be on the founders’ short list for a U.S. office.

“We’re targeting the U.S. market,” Kfir Dayan said. “It seems like you have a good infrastructure for business here in Connecticut.”

Or Haviv, a partner and head of global ventures at Arieli, said Connecticut has a lot of what his firm looks for when thinking about business startup programs: universities, available capital, and a welcoming, strong business ecosystem. He said his firm plans to hold more accelerator programs at The Bridge in the future.

“Connecticut is known for having a serious health and insurance industry,” Haviv said. “We hope we can show companies what Connecticut has to offer.”

Read the full article, here: https://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/hartford-area-business-accelerators-regain-some-momentum-in-new-post-covid-landscape

Ashley SaundersHartford area business accelerators regain some momentum in new post-COVID landscape
read more

Nassau to Host “State of the State – New Developments in CT’s Captive Industry”

Join Connecticut insurance and business leaders for the CT Captive Insurance Association’s ‘State of the State’ on June 1st from 4-6pm.

Join Connecticut insurance and business leaders for the CT Captive Insurance Association’s ‘State of the State’ on June 1st from 4:00pm-6:00pm to celebrate the passage of HB 5506 and learn more about exciting new developments in captive insurance and innovation in Connecticut. This special event will be held at the Nassau Re/Imagine insurtech incubator based in the company’s iconic Boat Building.

Click here to reserve your seat, now!

Ashley SaundersNassau to Host “State of the State – New Developments in CT’s Captive Industry”
read more

Seeking foothold in U.S. market, British insurtech sets sights on Hartford

by Zachary Vasile

British insurtech building what it calls an easier, more intuitive consumer insurance experience is setting down roots in Hartford, a venture the firm’s co-founder described as a natural next step as his team looks for new opportunities in the U.S.

“Symbolically, Hartford is seen as the home of U.S. insurance,” said Niall Barton, executive chairman of London-based Wrisk. “It’s seen as a very influential place, it’s a hub. So [setting up there] seemed logical.”

Wrisk recently announced plans for its first American office, and Barton said the company is still in the early stages of finding a site for its workers in Connecticut’s Capital City. The plan for now is to set up a temporary base in the “Boat Building” on Constitution Plaza in downtown until a permanent location is secured.

Barton anticipates there will be between 10 to 20 employees based in Hartford by the end of next year, a sizable unit for an organization with about 40 workers total.

Wrisk offers companies a customizable platform they can deploy to help clients evaluate and manage their insurance needs. The mobile-first technology originally centered on “content” insurance — insurance for certain high-value personal possessions — but has since been embraced by players in the automotive world, and company officials hope to expand in that same sector in the U.S. while also branching out into other industries.

“The U.S. is the prize,” Barton said. “We feel we can enter a market where nothing has changed in a while and bring in a platform that makes insurance frictionless.”

Emphasis on experimentation

Barton co-founded Wrisk with Chief Product Officer Darius Kumana in 2015.

The firm got a big boost early on from a partnership with BMW. Wrisk was selected to participate in the German automaker’s business incubator program, and that collaboration led to Wrisk becoming the sole supplier of BMW and MINI car insurance in the U.K.

The partnership gives Wrisk access to reams of data on customer behavior and preferences, which are used to continuously improve and refine the purchasing experience.

Wrisk has also played with ways to make BMW’s platform easier to use and more attractive for potential buyers, including rolling out periods of free coverage.

That approach is encouraged by the regulatory environment in the United Kingdom, Barton said, where insurers are typically freer to experiment than in the tightly-controlled U.S., and where institutions such as the venerable Lloyds have taken the global lead in rolling out novel and innovative insurance products.

“The British insurance industry is pretty advanced,” he added. “We have regulators that are very good and very receptive to new ideas. London is a fertile and friendly place for insurtech.”

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was “painful” for the business, Barton said, but the health crisis ultimately helped popularize Wrisk’s offerings by pushing consumers toward digital interfaces.

People emerged better versed in how to navigate online ordering systems and digital appointments, and the idea of buying or evaluating insurance online using similar technology no longer seemed foreign or too complicated to pursue.

“BMW was concerned about the conservatism of some of its clients,” Barton said, noting the average age of a typical BMW buyer in the U.K. “But it turned out 70-year-olds were happy to do it and use those services.”

With the company still so new, Barton admits he and his team “still feel every bump in the road,” including pandemic-induced price fluctuations and semiconductor shortages. But Wrisk has continued to build momentum, he noted.

Wrisk completed its Series A fundraising round in 2021, bringing in about $5.9 million. The firm plans to carry out its Series B in the latter half of this year, and a portion of that investment will support the Hartford operations launch.

Trans-Atlantic partnership
Another factor drawing Wrisk to Hartford was the March launch of an “insurtech corridor” between Connecticut and Britain.

Various industry promotional groups and officials from both governments signed an agreement removing certain jurisdictional barriers to cooperation and expansion, intended to help British insurance-technology companies do business in Connecticut, and vice-versa.

The British government said it was interested in forging closer connections with the Greater Hartford region specifically because it is home to numerous insurance and finance firms, including Aetna, Conning, The Hartford, Travelers Cos. and Nassau Financial Group.

Barton is a co-founder of a British trade group involved in the deal, Insurtech UK, and said the arrangement will help stimulate an exchange of knowledge and ideas between each country’s insurtech sector.

Calling the corridor a “natural Atlantic partnership,” Barton said the Hartford region has the depth of experience needed to make it an attractive landing point for British startups.

Reaching out toward Connecticut also makes more sense than venturing into the European Union, he said, as the company would be faced with navigating multiple new languages, while regulators and potential partners in America all speak English.

With time, Barton expects British companies beyond his own to test the waters in Hartford, and he believes American insurers that want to do the same in Britain will get a friendly reception in London.

“You won’t get an avalanche, but there will be some,” he said. “There are a few companies I can think of that must be thinking about opening in America. And, over time, I think you’ll see Hartford start to become a magnet.”

For more information:  https://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/seeking-foothold-in-us-market-british-insurtech-sets-sights-on-hartford

Ashley SaundersSeeking foothold in U.S. market, British insurtech sets sights on Hartford
read more

Insurtech Hartford Symposium – April 26 & 27, 2022

Nassau is proud to be represented across multiple thought leadership panels by Jacqueline Merl BammanSusan ZophyTisa Rabun-Marshall, MBALaura Dinan Haber and Jan Buchsbaum, at the InsurTech Hartford Symposium, April 26 & 27.

Join industry experts, startups, and investors for two days of making connections, sharing knowledge, and sneaking a peek into the future of insurance.

We hope to see you there!

 

For more information: https://insurtechhartfordsymposium.com/ 

Ashley SaundersInsurtech Hartford Symposium – April 26 & 27, 2022
read more

CT, insurance groups sign deal with U.K. for ‘InsurTech Corridor’

The Greater Hartford insurance sector and state agencies are joining forces with the U.K. government to launch a trans-Atlantic “corridor” with the aim of fostering closer business ties between Connecticut and Britain.

The MetroHartford Alliance, Connecticut Insurance & Financial Services, state Insurance and economic development departments and British industry group Insurtech UK, along with representatives from the British consulate, signed an agreement in Hartford on Thursday to remove jurisdictional barriers to cooperation and share knowledge and resources that would enable insurers in both Connecticut and Britain to explore and expand into each other’s markets.

The project, known as the “InsurTech Corridor,” will also include an online platform of free resources for interested companies. The site is expected to launch later this year.

“The InsurTech Corridor will revolutionize how we approach trans-Atlantic market entrances,” said Emma Wade-Smith, the British trade commissioner to North America. “As home to one of the oldest and largest insurance industries in the U.S., Connecticut is the perfect fit for the U.K. This Corridor will reduce bureaucracy, enabling the industry to better pursue growth and business opportunities, to the benefit of consumers and our economies in both locations.”

Ashley SaundersCT, insurance groups sign deal with U.K. for ‘InsurTech Corridor’
read more

4 Top Tips for How To Turn $100 Into $1,000

If you’re an underfunded investor with only a hundred bucks or so to put in play, you can grow that money slowly over time through traditional investing — but you’d better be patient. Another option, for the less patient perhaps, would be to take some big risks up front to try to turn that $100 into a respectable pile of seed money much quicker.

Your hundo would certainly be a whole lot more useful with an extra zero, but if turning a C-note into a G were some easy task, no one would have to work.

“First, you need to understand that turning $100 into $1,000 requires a whopping 1,000% return,” said Omer Reiner, a licensed realtor and president of Florida Cash Home Buyers. “Even some of the world’s most successful companies still take years to return 1,000%. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. You just need to take much riskier bets.”

Let’s explore those possibilities, shall we?

Ride the Super (Bowl) Crypto Wave

If you had put your money in Binance Coin at the start of 2021, you would have earned your 1,000% with plenty of room to spare by year’s end — 1,294%, to be exact. Shiba Inu gained 1,450%, Avalanche rose by 2,745%, Dogecoin gained 2,819%, Solana and Terra gained more than 9,000%, and Polygon gained more than 11,000%.

Right now, crypto is the superhero of supersized gains. If you happen to be holding any as you wait for the perfect moment to unload, it’s unlikely that 2022 will provide a hotter iron to strike than right now.

“Sell, not buy, Bitcoin,” said Paul Tyler, CMO of Nassau Financial Group in Hartford, Conn. “After the Super Bowl ads, everyone in America may be investing in this new asset.”

But buyer beware — same as with options, the bigger the potential gains, the bigger the risk. “Realize this is a highly speculative investment, not a savings strategy for retirement,” Tyler said.

Read the Entire Article, here: https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/financial-planning/top-tips-how-to-turn-100-into-1000/

Ashley Saunders4 Top Tips for How To Turn $100 Into $1,000
read more

Re/Imagine Welcomes Insurtech Israel

Nassau Re/Imagine and the Hartford Insurtech Ecosystem are excited to host InsurTech Israel and 8 of their insurtech startups on Monday, November 15th! Will we see you there? During the event, you will get the chance to hear from 8 impressive startups that will pitch their products and ideas.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/in-person-meet-greet-with-insurtech-israel-tickets-197756333517  

Can’t attend in person?
No problem! We will live stream the event on our platforms. Click below for direct access to the live event page.
We would like to give a special thanks to our event sponsor Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services (CT IFS) and to InsurTech Hartford for helping to organize the event!

About this event

This in-person event will take place at the Nassau Financial Group headquarters (the boat building). We are excited to meet with seven leading startups from the Israeli ecosystem.

Agenda

4:00 – Arrivals & networking

4:15 – Opening remarks

4:20 – Startup presentations

5:00 – Closing remarks

5:00 – Additional networking

6:00 – Departure

Startup’s we’ll meet

  • RavinAI (Claims vehicle inspection)
  • Insurights (Health benefits intelligence)
  • Gamasec (Cyber prevention & detection)
  • Covary (Gig insurance)
  • Emnotion (Climate risk modeling)
  • Psyber (Cyber underwriting risk assessment)
  • Urbanico – (Underwriting & pricing data )
  • Five Sigma – (Claims platform as a Service)

This is an in-person event. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be available.

Note: In compliance with local health mandates, masks are required. Also note, space is limited and this event is expected to be at capacity so do not wait to register.

Ashley SaundersRe/Imagine Welcomes Insurtech Israel
read more

CTStartup Podcast Episode 130: Building a franchise across the insurance value chain with Nassau

How do you become a 163 year old startup? It may seem like an oxymoron, but when it comes to reinventing itself, Nassau Re has made a name for itself in very short order. Tune in as Eric and Ojala discuss the ups and downs of insurance, finance, and supporting the Hartford startup ecosystem.

This podcast is sponsored by CTNext and Connecticut Innovations.

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ctstartup/episode-130-building-a-franchise-across-the-insurance-value-chain-with-nassau-re

The CTStartUP podcasts is all about connecting people who are passionate about the growing Connecticut startup ecosystem. The story of how CTStartUP podcast got started is not unlike how startups begin.

Learn more: https://soundcloud.com/ctstartup 

Ashley SaundersCTStartup Podcast Episode 130: Building a franchise across the insurance value chain with Nassau
read more

Bringing together the InsurTech Ecosystem – Insurtech Conclave August 2021

Bringing together the InsurTech Ecosystem: Hear from leading experts on trends and opportunities in the #insuranceindustry on Aug 10th from 10:55 AM to 11:25 AM ET

Accelerators Panel: Collaborating with startup accelerators to create a successful and scalable #InsurTech ecosystem
Paul Tyler, Chief Marketing Officer, Nassau Financial Group
Sabine VanderLinden, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Alchemy Crew
Prasad Joshi, SVP, Emerging Technology Solutions, Infosys
Susan Winkler, VP and Executive Director, Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services (CT IFS) (Moderator)

Key takeaways of this panel:

  • Innovation in the post pandemic context
  • Technology and trends driving a new ecosystem
  • Building capabilities and first mover advantage
  • Role of proprietary tech and data

Learn more about the Insurtech Conclave, including speakers, agenda, key takeaways, and more: https://www.infosys.com/newsroom/events/2021/insurtech-conclave.html

Ashley SaundersBringing together the InsurTech Ecosystem – Insurtech Conclave August 2021
read more

InsureLife raising Seed round, signs major Insurance brands, to digitally connect Insurance Companies with Customers and Agents, improving sales process

RALEIGH, N.C.Aug. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — InsureLife, a startup technology company in Raleigh, NC, has developed an AI-powered platform for Insurers that digitally connects their financial services products with consumers and agents, growing sales in a contactless world.

Investors in the Seed round include Nassau Financial Group, CFV Ventures, and several angel investors. InsureLife anticipates oversubscribing the Seed round.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/insurelife-raising-seed-round-signs-major-insurance-brands-to-digitally-connect-insurance-companies-with-customers-and-agents-improving-sales-process-301348878.html?a

InsureLife has secured distribution agreements with two major insurance companies – a leading Supplemental Health Insurer and Nassau Financial Group. Following the Seed round, InsureLife’s priority will be launching with these companies to distribute their products with InsureLife’s proprietary platform. InsureLife also intends to open its Series A round for growth capital later this year.

“We’re thrilled and honored to partner with forward-thinking investors and insurance companies who see the value in modernizing the antiquated insurance distribution chain. We’re excited to get moving with great brands like Nassau and one of the largest Supplemental Health Insurers and most recognized brands in the US. This round is the catalyst to many more growth opportunities that we’re already exploring for InsureLife,” said John Cammarata, InsureLife Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer.

CFV Ventures, Managing Partner Nat Clarkson said: “The InsureLife team has created a unique solution that addresses a real need in the insurance industry. We are excited to be working with the organization and look forward to being a part of its future growth.”

Nassau Financial Group, Chief Marketing Officer Paul Tyler said: “We’re proud of the continued success of the team. We believe in their mission for agents and consumers now more than ever. We’re happy to see one of the early companies in our incubator, Nassau Re/Imagine, continue to gain momentum in the marketplace. In addition, we look forward to growing our Medicare Supplement insurance business in partnership with InsureLife’s team.”

Additionally, in 2020, InsureLife joined the Nassau Re/Image incubator in Hartford, CT, and won their pitch competition. They also placed second in the Fintech Frontier Pitch Competition in Cincinnati, OH.

To learn more about InsureLife, visit the company’s website.

SOURCE InsureLife

Related Links

https://insurelife.io

Ashley SaundersInsureLife raising Seed round, signs major Insurance brands, to digitally connect Insurance Companies with Customers and Agents, improving sales process
read more