Moving Mountains: A wrap-up of the year 2019

InsurTech Hub Munich has grown substantially during the year 2019 – what’s next? Managing Director Manuel Holzhauer wraps up the last twelve months.

Exactly twelve months ago, German magazine “Business Punk” portrayed me as one out of ten people to watch in Finance and Insurance. Back then I was only a few weeks into my new job as InsurTech Hub Munich’s (ITHM) Managing Director and, coming from an established company background, I told the journalists that I was aiming to make ITHM the most relevant hub of its sorts in Europe until 2024. That we wanted to at least double the number of partners by year’s end. And that, of course, an accelerator would stand at the center of ITHM’s activities. Time for a wrap-up!

Impact Matters

In the meantime I’ve learned (oh yes, I learned a lot from working with startups!) not to argue in overly circumspective five-years-perspectives. Today I’d rather let you know straight away that we’re really far on our journey to becoming THE go-to place for innovation in the industry. And I wouldn’t talk about quantity but rather impact – we haven’t exactly doubled our partners count but we’ve decided to broaden our network deliberatedly. Putting a focus on international, cross-industry partnerships we’re proud to have won Microsoft, Dai-Ichi Life, NTT DATA, Markel and the Dutch Association of Insurers for our network. But also the digital offspring of a traditional insurer, w&w brandpool, or mature startups like Instahelp. No less important are new cooperations with institutions like Bitkom, Medical Valley and Süddeutscher Verlag Veranstaltungen – we’re all driving change together! And, if you still insist on some number crunching: Taking into consideration the shareholder value of our partner companies, we’ve by far exceeded the doubling target.

Scaling up requires a great team

And I have realized that scaling up – one of the major goals of any entrepreneur – isn’t possible without a great, motivated team. Within a large corporation you might easily pick a group of people to join your taskforce. If you’re employee no. 2 in a startup, like I was, recruiting and team-building will become the most important tasks to really make the magic happen. This said none of the successes mentioned above would have been possible without the fabulous ITHM team, which has grown substantially during the year 2019. We’re eight people now and by next year we expect to be a party of eleven. People with very diverse, international backgrounds, which adds to the goal of reaching beyond existing structures. Structures which – I want to underline that – we’re grateful for and which have been built up by the folks who started the InsurTech Hub Munich back in 2017, long before today’s team came in. Many of them still support the network energetically, and that’s highly appreciated. Great job!

Reaching out internationally

In 2019 team members have been present at international events like Digital Insurance Agenda (DIA), Insuretech Connect, Bits & Pretzels, DLD, TechCrunch Disrupt, Web Summit or Slush – not only to meet exciting new startups, VCs and corporate innovators but also to measure which of these events we will lay a larger focus on in the future. Sure a highlight of my year was travelling to Tel Aviv with 20 of our allies (read more here). This might also give you an idea of the direction we’re taking: We definitely want to broaden our cross-industry horizon as we see insurance as a field that touches basically any aspect of our private and professional lifes. And we aim to keep learning – each and every day!

For our 2019 accelerator more than 160 startups applied and we’re extremely proud that the ten most successful of them are already deeply involved into projects with our partner companies. We’ve learned that the curriculum is highly valuable for earlier-stage founders, as are touching points with venture capitalists for those a little more advanced. As a result we will reinforce these features in the upcoming 2020 Innovation Programme, for which an even much larger number of entrepreneurs has registered. While still screening the applications, we’re already working on setting up a second accelerator focused on innovations from the health field, we’re planning to host workshops on topics like design thinking and… Well, you know that the motto for our new Innovation Programme is “Moving Mountains”, right? So you better expect the unexpected! 

Text: Markus Walter