Author: Marcellin, Chereace

Announcing the 2020-2021 InsurTech Fellows


The InsurTech Fellows Program is a collaborative effort between UConn’s CT Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the University of Hartford and is funded by CTNext. Thirteen graduate and undergraduate students have been invited to participate in the program during the 2020-2021 academic year. Designed to increase student’s understanding of the insurance industry and grow the next generation of innovators within the InsurTech space, students will work directly with new and innovative InsurTech startups, receive personal mentorship from insurance leaders, gain access to networks in the InsurTech ecosystem, connect to exciting job opportunities and internships and earn $4,000 in scholarship funding for their participation.

Expanding on the foundational knowledge gained in a previous InsurTech Venturing course taught by Ken Goldstein, Clinical Instructor of Risk Management and Insurance at the University of Hartford and Michael Kalen, CEO of Covr Financial Technologies, they will gain first-hand experience working with an InsurTech startup via the Nassau Re/Imagine incubator program. Each fellow will also receive mentors to provide professional guidance and support over the course of the spring semester.

Below is the list of the fellows that were selected to participate in the 2020-2021 InsurTech Fellows Program. We are proud to have accepted 9 UConn students and 4 UHart students, spanning across multiple academic programs and includes both graduate and undergraduate students. Join us in congratulating these newly initiated fellows for their participation in such an incredible opportunity.

Alok Bhatt –Master of Business Adminstration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Andrew Tran -Management Information Systems, School of Business

Eleanor Umaya -LL.M in Insurance Law, University of Connecticut, School of Law

Ian Thomas -Accounting, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Jailynn Vidro -Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Kate Sargis -Risk Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Kevin Robert Fitzgerald -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Meg North -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Nicholas Bosio -Insurance and Risk Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Nishant Jain -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Utkarsh Gupta -Master of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Yoanny Brito -Management, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business

Youngho Kwon -Management Information Systems, University of Connecticut, School of Business

Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: onewith


onewith provides a smoothing, second-skin fit through a re-imagined method of creating swimwear that mimics the feel of seamless undergarments. In addition to feeling and fitting differently, onewith seeks to capture, in its aesthetics and detail, sun-soaked, nostalgic East Coast summers.

For as many swimwear companies as there are, they are all – even the brands that are ‘figure-flattering’ – constructionally very similar. I had this realization in the spring of 2019 when I was trying on roughly a dozen swimsuits in my living room, and was feeling frustrated (to say the least) with the way they were looking and feeling. I said, out loud, that I wanted to create a swimsuit that felt ‘one with’ my body, and upon saying that, the ethos and brand came to me immediately.

My background is in fashion, and more specifically, the bridal industry, so I was familiar with the pain points women had with garments and the way they fit, especially in categories as intimate as bridal, lingerie, and swim. I have also been a content creator for 12 years, making YouTube videos for an overwhelmingly female audience since 2008. With this experience, and now with the idea for a brand that I felt could help women feel more confident, I felt a responsibility – and unwavering passion – to bring onewith to life.
    As the daughter and sister of UConn alumni and a proud UConn alum myself, being accepted into Summer Fellowship was surreal. So many amazing businesses and UConntrepreneurs have come out of this University, so I knew I was going to take this opportunity and make the absolute most of it. The quality of curriculum, content, mentors, and speakers in Summer Fellowship is absolutely top-notch. I have absorbed and implemented so much of what I have learned already and look forward to continuing to do so. I also love networking – even virtually – with the other Fellows! It’s fun to bounce off of each other and feel so supported within the group.

    Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Jasdeep Singh

    This summer, I’m excited to begin working with the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) at UConn and the CT Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a business consultant intern. Coming from the world of education, the in-depth topics of business that the UConn Full-Time MBA program and talented cohort helped immerse in were both stimulating as well as a bit overwhelming. Every week opened me to a new area of interest in strategy, operations, analytics, finance, and marketing, making the choice of internships and possible future jobs broad but also complex.

    In order to grow and apply as much as possible, I began consulting with a few start-ups and small businesses on my own during the semester. While it was a great way for me to bring my diverse areas of learning and experience together, what was more motivating was the reality that when working with small companies, every conversation can directly impact the business. I always admired those who have the knowledge, skills, and bravery to bring a business to life. Now I have a deeper understanding of just how difficult and complex starting and growing a company can be, but also how much innovation and discovery comes from the process. Getting the chance to continue to learn and work in almost every facet of business, from finance to operations, in sectors as wide ranging as healthcare and energy, while also helping leaders bring ideas to fruition is the exact opportunity I was looking for, making the VERGE Consulting program an ideal internship.

    Announcing the 2019-2020 InsurTech Fellows

    2019-2020 InsurTech Fellows Amrita Jha, Ashley Kane, Bharath Tata and Valdrin Sadiku at the InsurTech Hartford Symposium

    The InsurTech Fellows Program is a collaborative effort between UConn’s CT Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the University of Hartford and is funded by CTNext. Twelve graduate and undergraduate students have been invited to participate in the program during the 2019-2020 academic year. The program features multiple components, including an InsurTech Venturing course, an experiential learning opportunity, mentorship and access to networks and internships.

    On top of the foundational knowledge that these students have received in the fall InsurTech Venturing course taught by Ken Goldstein, Clinical Instructor of Risk Management and Insurance, University of Hartford and Michael Kalen, CEO, Covr Financial Technologies, they will gain first-hand experience working with an InsurTech startup part of the Hartford InsurTech Hub’s accelerator program in the Spring. Each fellow will be paired with one company and supporting them throughout their participation in the accelerator program. Each fellow will also receive 1-2 mentors to provide professional guidance and support over the course of the fellows program.

    Below is the list of the students that were selected to participate in the 2019-2020 InsurTech Fellows Program. We are proud to have accepted 8 UConn students and 4 UHart students, spanning across multiple academic programs and includes both graduate and undergraduate students. Join us in congratulating these students for being selected to participate in this incredible opportunity.

    Amrita Jha– University of Connecticut, Masters of Business Administration

    Ashley Kane– University of Connecticut, Actuarial Science

    Bhanuj Ahuja– University of Connecticut, Masters of Business Administration

    Bharath Tata– University of Connecticut, Masters of Business Administration

    Clarentz Jean– University of Hartford, Risk Management & Insurance

    Ge (Caroline) Yu– University of Connecticut, Actuarial Science

    Jiachien Liu– University of Connecticut, Actuarial Science/Finance & Statistics

    Neil Patel– University of Connecticut, Economics

    Nicole Horen– University of Connecticut, Digital Marketing & Analytics

    Sony Ambooken– University of Hartford, Masters of Business Administration

    William Boyd– University of Hartford, Risk Management & Insurance

    Valdrin Sadiku– University of Hartford, Risk Management & Insurance                                                                                         

    Applications for the 2020-2021 cohort open in January.

    InsureTech Connect 2019 by Amrita Jha

    Chairman’s Perspective

    Caribou Honig, chairman and co-founder of InsureTech Connect, commenced the session by sharing the thought that “Insurance is so important to basic human needs”. He explained this thought by telling a true story about himself when he was shot in his foot this summer. One of the first thoughts that came to his mind was “Thank god I have life insurance”.

    He then progressed the session by sharing some interesting facts and making a few predictions regarding the Insurance industry. First, he mentioned that Insurance and InsurTech industry have a global presence and companies like Lemonade are expanding to Germany. Secondly, he talked about “Unicorn M&A” which implies new

    InsureTech companies are getting a billion-dollar funding from investors. He gave an example of the Prudential buying Assurance early this year. Hence, the traditional thoughts of incumbents buying new startups are changing. Thirdly, he spoke about a new variety of entrants who are neither traditional insurance nor InsureTech like Porsche launched Porsche Auto insurance by collaborating with InsureTech Miles Auto. Lastly, he stressed the importance of APIs. He thinks that APIs changing the traditional broker model and introducing a channel model between Insurer and customer. He gave the example of SoFi, a fintech company collaboratingwith Ladder through API to give life insurance. He speculates that insurance through API channel partners may become so embedded in the system that it becomes invisible.

    What business are we really in?

    Chris Colborn, CEO at Lippincott, starts the keynote with a positive provocative comment that there is “no winning” in the insurance business because of its complex structure. He explains that brand and innovation are closely coupled. A Brand requires innovation with purpose, and innovation is done by brands and not just said!

    He talked about factors influencing the loyalty of a customer to a brand. He measures it based on two dimensions “connection” and “progress”. A Connection is whether the brand values the customer’s interest before their own, while progress is whether the brand makes the complexities simpler for a customer. Once a brand hits a balance between the two dimensions it becomes a go-to brand for the customer. He remarked that most of the US insurance companies are in the area where they have not attended that balance.

    He then gave an excellent perspective about doing business by giving the example of the Michelin Guide. Michelin was a rubber manufacturing business but they began reviewing great restaurants so that more customers can get on the road to visit these restaurants. Chris gave this example to explain that customers are not interested in the business, instead they are interested in the value that the business is creating for them.

    Launc[H] Investment Luncheon

    We also got the opportunity to attend the Launc[H]artford InsureTech investment luncheon where the CEOs and representatives of different Insurance and InsureTech companies pitched about insurance success being achieved by the companies through innovation in Hartford.

    The pitch was backed by Mayor Luke Bronin, emphasizing the immense amount of opportunities and talent existing in Hartford, making it valuable to investors. Investors suggested having a roadshow in Boston or New York to increase more awareness regarding Hartford and innovation on the East Coast.

    StateFarm launched its new product ‘Cumulus Insurance’

    StateFarm powered by SalesForce debuted their latest Insurance capabilities for Financial Services Cloud which will give 360-degree view to agents about policyholders, assists policyholders through chatbots and making the claim process easier and faster.

    Fun At ITC 2019:

    Chereace, Jonathan and Amrita were able to find some time to watch The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil!


    The ITC Experience by Jonathan Seguro

    When I first received the news that I’d be lucky enough to attend the InsurTech Connect conference in Las Vegas, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. At the time I was only two weeks into my InsurTech Venturing course so I was still very early on into my exposure of the concept of “InsurTech” and I didn’t quite realize the significance the concept has on the changing landscape of the insurance industry. Little did I know that what I was about to discover on my trip was going to open my eyes to so much potential improvement for the insurance industry…

    The week started off with an elaborate welcome reception and networking event held at the Wet Republic Ultra Lounge just outside of the MGM Conference Center where InsurTech 2019 was being held. No, a Vegas style pool party was not awaiting us, but here attendees of the event had their first opportunity to meet other industry executives, entrepreneurs, and investors who were all excited to learn and gain insight from one another in the week ahead.

    The main event began the following morning with a kick-off session hosted by InsurTech Connect Chairman and Co-Founder, Caribou Honig, and Leppincott’s Chris Colborn who together really set the stage of what to expect at the conference. Their speeches honed in on a theme generalized around an industry in need of change. Insurance hasn’t always been a motivating and exciting purchase for consumers, so it’s important for industry leaders to change their strategic mindset from “insuring people” to instead being in the business of “assuring people” in order to produce value that hasn’t historically been recognized in the industry before.

    A number of plenary sessions followed including a very interesting presentation by Allstate President, Glenn Shapiro. In his presentation, Glenn did a really great job framing the perspective of how essential disruption will be to the future of insurance. When you think of it, pretty much every other industry from banking to entertainment has already been disrupted by the rapid pace of technological innovation in recent years, while the methods of traditional insurance has remained generally stagnant all along. He emphasized that for insurance to feel relevant to consumers in the coming era, insurance companies have to leverage innovation and technology in order to demonstrate that insurance can do more for customers. He used the process of an automobile claim to demonstrate this concept. Despite advancements made in GPS and APIs, it can still take ten or more days for an auto claim to become fully processed and this timeline hasn’t generally improved in well over twenty years. Coincidentally, Glenn’s presentation was shortly followed by the unveiling of a new State Farm product, Cumulus Auto, which is a claim submission app that leverages AI technology along with your smartphone camera to measure the damage of an automobile accident. Developments like Cumulus Auto are sure to improve upon claims processing time and hold the potential to become revolutionary improvements to the way we deal with auto insurance.


    During my time at the conference I was also fortunate enough to attend the Launc(H)artford Investors luncheon, where I received an exclusive inside look into the pitch the Launch board gave to a group of venture capitalists seeking to find investment opportunity within Hartford based startups. A number of Hartford based insurance leaders from companies both small and large were involved in the presentation, including Mayor Luke Bronin and co-CEO of local InsurTechstartup Pineapple, Matthew Elan Smith. It was amazing to see the greater interest of opportunity at bay for the city of Hartford. It was noted during the presentation that Hartford went from having zero to forty InsurTech startups centered here in the city in just the matter of two years, which is great testament to the success of Startupbootcamp’s Hartford InsurTech Hub accelerator. Exposure to VC interest didn’t end at the lunch as the conference also hosted a massive Expo showcasing hundreds of InsurTech startups and investment firms. It was very interesting to see the level of potential partnerships being formed throughout the week.

    In retrospect, I can honestly say that InsurTech Connect 2019 was an educational experience beyond anything I could have imagined and has truly revved up my excitement for what’s to come in the world of insurance! It is clear that we are only at the cusp of what’s sure to be some really incredible opportunity for bettering the insurance experience for all.

    InsurTech Week

    2018 InsurTech Fellows; Tae Park, Brittany Dias, Julianna Wesley, Katelin Dorff

    What an exciting week for InsurTech! Starting Tuesday, November 27thand continuing into Wednesday, November 28th, the Hartford InsurTech Hub hosted their Selection Days. Across these two days, 22 InsurTech startups were invited to showcase their companies to mentors, partners and students. At the end of Selection Days, the goal was to select 10 companies to join Startupbootcamp’s Accelerator Program.

    Each day began with a round of introductions. Dawn LeBlanc, Managing Director at the Hartford InsurTech Hub, briefed attendees on the expectations for each day and the process they took to reach 22 invitees out of thousands of possibilities. Sabine Vanderlinden, CEO of Startupbootcamp, presented on topics surrounding the growing industry of InsurTech and its added value to the traditional insurance industry. Mayor of Hartford, Luke Bronin, was also in attendance to discuss the future of InsurTech in Hartford and the impact it will continue to make on the nations insurance capital. The day continued on with pitches from the 22 startups. Each startup was challenged to pitch their business models within 60 to 90 seconds. Attendees were introduced to InsurTech startups that had a focus on just about everything including artificial intelligence, blockchain, customer experience and claims processes. Following the pitches, each startup had the opportunity to receive feedback and discuss pathways to success with partners, mentors, and investors across the insurance, finance, and technology industries.


    Insurance Market Summit

    After the Selection Days came the Insurance Market Summit, held on Thursday, November 29that the Marriott Downtown Hartford. This day was filled with high energy and excitement from insurers, investors and partners from the surrounding area in Hartford, CT. Keynote speaker, Tom Wamberg, CEO of Wamberg Genomic Advisors, started the morning with a fascinating presentation on genomics and some of the innovative ways it is being used to identify genetically-prone diseases and cure terminal illnesses. This was especially of interest to the insurance companies in the room because a simple genetic screening can be used to drive premium costs and improve underwriting in health insurance. The rest of the day consisted of presentations and panel discussions focusing on the direction of the insurance industry and the incorporation of innovative technologies.

    As the Summit came to a close, CEO of Startupbootcamp, Sabine Vanderlinden, shared exciting news. 10 new InsurTech startups were selected to join Startupbootcamp’s Accelerator Program starting in February.  After the past two days of Selection Days, this brought enthusiasm to the insurance partners and investors in the audience. This was especially exciting for the University of Connecticut and University of Hartford students that are participating in CCEI’s InsurTech Fellows Program. In the spring, these Fellows will be working with these InsurTech startups throughout their involvement in the accelerator, inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

    UConn MBA Case Competition

    The week ended with the UConn MBA Case Competition held at Upward Hartford. Every year, first-year UConn MBA students work in teams to analyze complex case studies surrounding emerging business challenges and present their solutions to a panel of judges. This years MBA Case Competition had a focus on InsurTech. Specifically, MBA students were asked to examine the anonymous profiles of 7 InsurTech startups and create a rating system that examines which company had the most effective business model, strategies and value propositions. Many of these anonymous companies were actually inspired by the same InsurTech startups that applied to the Startupbootcamp’s Accelerator Program in 2019. Only a day after the announcement of the 10 selected startups, it was interesting to see how the MBA students selected these startups in comparison to the ones that were selected one day prior. The day concluded with a winning team and runner up team, although all participating teams gave outstanding and informative presentations.

    The 10 InsurTech Startups participating in the 2019 cohort of the Hartford InsurTech Hub accelerator were announced at the Insurance Market Summit.



    InsureTech Connect 2018

    Welcome to Las Vegas! This year’s InsureTech Connect Conference was one for the books. Thousands of professionals traveled from across the country and world to learn and connect with others surrounding the fascinating industry of InsurTech. There were a variety of panels, discussions, speakers, and presentations all with a similar purpose in mind-to open up the perspectives of all the insurers, startups and professionals in attendance.

    The event opened with the plenary sessions, hosted by the CEO and co-founder of InsureTech Connect, Jay Weintraub. Here we heard from some very notable industry leaders who shared the importance of innovation in a traditional industry such as insurance. Attendees were able to gain a deeper understanding of what the future holds for InsurTech. We also heard from the CEO of Credit Karma, Ken Lin, who launched a new product right on stage! Soon consumers will have a way to go on the Credit Karma app and view their insurance score and compare prices on auto insurance based on their credit. The plenary sessions ended with a panel discussion called “Money Talks: Insurance. Innovation.” CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group, Pina Albo and CEO of Argo Group, Mark Watson III discussed ways they are integrating innovation within their owns companies and provided guidance on how other businesses can follow suit. Overall, this event was a great way to kick-off InsureTech Connect 2018 and made for a promising conference.

    Following the plenary sessions was a full day of panels, speakers and presentations. Here are some of the sessions CCEI attended:

    Panel Discussion: “Financial Inclusion: Innovation Meets Social Responsibility”

    Speakers discussed the ways that the industry could be potentially scaling down on traditional insurance by increasing innovation and technology. The audience was also intrigued by how to make insurance more inclusive and available to global consumers through the Q&A portion.  One audience member inquired about how companies are working around regulations in developing countries and how it is having an impact on distribution. To answer their question, Senior Managing Director of A.M. Best, Andrea Keenan said that certain countries such as India are integrating insurance regulations into their legislation. She also ended the discussion with one important note, “You can positively impact economic growth through technology”.

    Panel Discussion: “The Pathway to Growth and Innovation in the Age of Digital Insurance 2.0 by Majesco

    An InsurTech startup and a Greenfield leader discuss how they moved their traditional insurance companies to become more innovative and technologically inclusive. In the age of digital insurance, Danna Gomez of Urban Advantage and Joe Griffith of Ategrity Specialty Insurance talked about their growth in the industry and their use of a platform solution to improve speed to value, unique customer engagement capabilities, and creating a test and learn environment for new products.

    Debate Panel: “Agents of Change-InsureTech Face-Off Debate by Capgemini”

    Incumbents vs. InsurTechs! A group of traditional insurers battle it out with InsurTech startups in an exciting debate hosted and moderated by Capgemini. On the incumbent’s side, participating companies included Prudential, MetLife, Transamerica, and American Family Insurance. On the InsurTech side, participating companies included Pypestream, Digital Insurance Group, So-Sure, and Verifly. Each participant were required to respond to questions such as “Will InsurTech cause disruption similar to companies such as Netflix, Uber, and Amazon? How will it impact human capital? Will it solve the customer experience challenge?” While both teams agreed that technology and innovation is essential to the growth of the insurance industry, incumbents sided with supporting this kind of growth internally and InsurTechs believed that new services that incorporate traditional insurance is the best way to see progress. At the end, the audience members voted on which team they believed to have a more compelling argument and it was a tie!

    Presentation: “Innovation Showcase: A Spotlight on Female Founders”

    Four innovative women presented their new and exciting InsurTech products to an audience of potential investors, partners and business professionals. Each presented their demos and product designs for technologies that will help improve the customer experience in insurance. CEO and founder of True Flood Risk, Shelly Klose introduced her app that will provide customers with a convenient way to report flood claims. CEO and founder of vHealth Lab, Nina Sesto, presented an app that includes a portable ECG device that monitors a patient’s heart rate at any moment they may be feeling heart attack symptoms. This product hopes to decrease potential hospital visits and reduce unnecessary costs. Next, CEO and founder of VivaMetrica, Dr. Cindy Lane, introduced a wellness app that will use predictive analytics to accurately predict mortality and reduce risk. Lastly, CEO and founder of Rozie.AI, Dr. Sudha Megan, introduced her product that centralizes insurance lines and provides a more efficient way to communicate with customers using AI technologies.


    This was just the tip of the iceberg for InsureTech Connect. There were a lot more panels and discussions to attend and not enough time to see it all.  Gladly, the sessions we did attend provided a very valuable learning experience. The opportunity to learn from industry leaders and connect with InsurTech professionals was bar none. Thank you InsureTech Connect 2018!

    For more information about InsureTech Connect visit