Interview with George Kesselman, 50insurtech influencer and Founder of InsurTech Asia

1. Describe what you do.

Imagine an ambitious MBA student, dreaming of making a real positive difference in the world. He didn't know how and when but the dream became deeply ingrained in his DNA.

Fast forward 10 years and having achieved professional success as an insurance executive, I knew that it was the time and the place to stand up to status quo and act on my dream. I've created InsurTechAsia to bring together community of innovators to jointly re-shape insurance and bring it back to its noble roots of doing good for the world.

InsurTechAsia is creating the next wave of global revolution in insurance through bringing together likeminded insurance leaders, innovative startups and stakeholders to collaborate on solving key problems.


2. Please give your definition of InsurTech.

InsurTech is a tidal wave of innovation that will unlock the insurance industry stalemate. Language has a tremendous power and I believe, the narrower one thinks of InsurTech the more you constrain the possibilities and bound the innovation to become incremental (eg. giving agents stock iPad’s). Therefore I try to unconstraint my mind when think of InsurTech as broadly as possible: anything to do with risk transfer both directly and indirectly (for example, it can be an awesome startup that that has a clever way of bringing together a community and has a build-in risk transfer element through insurance).


3. Startups vs. Incumbent: disruption or collaboration?

Collaboration is the way to go, I wrote a few pieces to explain why:


4. Name main challenges for insurtech startups.

Picking a large enough problem to solve then securing a cost effective and scalable customer acquisition model. Last but not least is finding at least two good insurance industry partners who are willing to commit resources and help take startups to market in a mature and collaborative way.  


5. When you judge an InsurTech initiative, what are you looking for?

I am looking for a combination of a solution that has large enough potential to positively transform insurance industry and teams that are driven by a deep sense of purpose of helping society through an optimized risk transfer. 


6. One advice for InsurTech entrepreneurs.  

Take at least one day a week / 20% of your time to talk to as many diverse potential customers as possible to understand what moves them, worries them and what rubs them the wrong way. Learn how they view the world and develop empathy. 


7. How long until we’ll be able to see an actual material InsurTech change on the insurance market?

I fully anticipate that we’ll follow the typical hype curve scenario for InsurTech within next three to five years. Lots of interest and funding translating into large influx of entrepreneurs, most of who will fail within two years, small percentage will successful try again and together with the survivors of the original wave will make a backbone of transformation. Within 8-10 years from now we will bring about a tremendous and in some ways brutal changes within insurance industry. 


George Kesselman is a 50insurtech influencer and judge in the MEDICI 21 competition.