How to scale it

Nürnberger Versicherung and startup Fusionbase have joined forces – with a remarkably long-term perspective. We asked them for their top three criteria for successful startup-corporate cooperations.

It’s a match: Join a video conference with Heinrich Fritzlar, Head Group Application Development at NÜRNBERGER Versicherung, the company’s Innovations Lead Julia Pühlhorn and entrepreneur Kevin Goßling, CEO and Co-Founder of Munich-based data startup Fusionbase these days, and you will instantly feel their enthusiasm. Having met through InsurTech Hub Munich’s 2020 Innovation Programme, the two parties very soon decided to enter into a close collaboration – with a remarkably long-term perspective of five years. So who better to ask about what makes a successful startup-corporate relationship? These are their top three criteria for making the magic happen.

1) A Moment(um) of Urgency

Julia Pühlhorn from NÜRNBERGER Versicherung
Julia Pühlhorn,
Innovations Lead NÜRNBERGER Versicherung

Early 2020: Fusionbase founder Kevin Goßling is a participant in InsurTech Hub Munich’s (ITHM) fifth edition of the Innovation Programme, when he first meets Julia Pühlhorn from NÜRNBERGER Versicherung. Being one of ITHM’s founding partners, NÜRNBERGER always is highly engaged in the network. But this time the company’s Innovations Lead immediately sees a fit: Wouldn’t Fusionbase’s solution to access external data significantly simplify the insurer’s receivables management? “A remarkably unfancy, but important issue for us”, explains Pühlhorn in hindsight. “We realized pretty soon that Fusionbase can help us fulfill this mission and within few weeks time we agreed upon a collab”. 

“In an industry, that in the past wasn’t exactly known for fast decision-making, this already is noteworthy”, comments ITHM Managing director Christian Gnam. “In the months, marked by the unforeseeable pandemic situation, we have witnessed not only the customers’ behavior change quickly, but also the corporate world’s approach to implementing innovations.”

2) A Shared Vision for Scaling

Kevin Goßling, CEO and Co-Founder of Munich-based data startup Fusionbase
Kevin Goßling,
CEO and Co-Founder Fusionbase

Enter Heinrich Fritzlar, Head Group Application Development: “To simply buy into Fusionbase’s solution might have been a fair enough, but rather one-dimensional solution”. As he explains, it’s the shared vision that really makes the magic happen in startup-corporate relationships. In the case of Fusionbase, NÜRNBERGER even decided to make it a long-term engagement, signing a contract for five years. “We strongly believe that we can scale Fusionbase’s offerings in different use cases”, explains Fritzlar and reports that there already are plans to implement the solution in another department of the insurance company.

“This long-term commitment is quite outstanding and could set standards in startup-corporate relationships”, evaluates ITHM expert Gnam. “If a startups’s solution solves one problem in your company, it absolutely makes sense to check if it can be translated to other challenges”.

3) Two Sides that Deliver

Heinrich Fritzlar,
Head Group Application Development at NÜRNBERGER Versicherung

Delivery often is the moment of truth in cooperations: “When you are ready to run, you want your collaborators also to enter the starting block”, elaborates Fusionbase co-founder Kevin Goßling. “As a startup one often is confronted with situations in which this isn’t the case on the corporate side. This can put a strain on the relation from the start on”. “Same applies to our perspective”, adds Fritzlar, “we’re not keen on nannying entrepreneurs that haven’t thought about the delivery part and misinterpret us as their sales department”. As you might already guess, in the case of the NÜRNBERGER / Fusionbase coop everything worked out perfectly smooth. “We even managed to build up a cross-departmental team of supporters eager to see which topic we and Fusionbase will tackle next”, joyfully explains Fritzlar. “And I don’t see this as limited to existing challenges. Access to more data also means that you can better calculate risks and design new insurance solutions around that”.

“As in any relationship, expectations management is key”, complements ITHM teamlead Gnam. “If both sides can handle long periods in standby mode, that’s fine. But now that digitization has really accelerated, customers expect super-fast delivery and established companies as well as startups have to act accordingly. To ensure that both parties are on eye-level and ready to rock the future of insurance are core missions of ITHM. The NÜRNBERGER / Fusionbase success story is living proof that we too are focused on delivery and scale!” 

Text: Markus Walter