OTONOMI at ITC Vegas 2021.

Iconic arrival gate at the McCarran airport.

OTONOMI is a blockchain-enabled parametric platform that transforms cargo insurance policies into fast, cost-effective, and transparent digital products. Powered by our proprietary technologies in data-activated triggers, smart contracts, and integrated digital wallets, we reduce claim resolution times from 45 days to 45 minutes, lowering admin costs by 75%. Our dynamic pricing and advanced risk scenario capabilities unleash new markets while achieving unparalleled profitability.

ITC (short for InsureTech Connect) is the world’s largest gathering of insurance leaders and innovators and takes place in Vegas in the fall every year. After an off-year last year during the pandemic, when all events got moved to virtual (including ITC), people recently got pumped about getting back to meeting in person. And boy they did!

A few data points to give you a sense of the magnitude of the conference:

30,000+ have attended from major brands to the newest entrants.
75,000+ meetings facilitated industry-changing conversations.
100+ countries the most global gathering of insurance leaders.
70%+ VP and higher decision-makers from across the insurance and insurtech ecosystem.

I have attended the 3 day-long conference and had a blast! I reckoned I’d share some of my experience there.

Day 1: Ready. Set. Go!

Eventful day! Woke up at 4am, made it to Vegas right around 11am PT.
It literally took me 20min to get situated in this maze of hotel resorts (Mandalay Bay) — more mileage indoor than you’d walk as a tourist in Manhattan.
Met with Chris Ervey our Reinsurance Broker at BMS Re, along with his colleague Mark.
We arranged a first meeting with the guys at a Cayman Reinsurer — great convo.
Then went on with the first speaker's panel sponsors by Socotra, insurance policies administrator insurtech (now very established in the market). Great surprise, one of the 3 panelists was the one and only Nestor Solari, CEO of Sigo Seguros, auto insurance insurtech, and ex-ERA fellow. Great talk!

I met with Peter Rakowsky, BD at DataArt, a lot in common in the insurtech side, but also blockchain and tennis! Some potential partnership here.
Ran into another fellow startup founder, Wesley Pergament, CEO of Sola, parametric solution in the tornado space.
Then headed to Ra Ri Irish Pub for a meet-up with Chris (BMS) and some clients at a Midwest Reinsurance.
A couple of pints later, we took an Uber and ended at the GreenlightRe bash at the TopGolf, superb spot and awesome vibe. Mingled with a few VCs, reinsurers, and even ran into a couple of “blast from the past” Citigroup chaps — who knows who you’re going to run into.

END OF COMMUNICATION. STOP.

Day 2: A Day at the Races.

Day started out great, with half-hour line at the Starbucks — a cohort of zombies (including me) awaiting their fix to try to get through another 24 hrs.
Arrival the Mandalay convention center at 8.34am.
The big Expo Center opened for the first day: something like a million sqft of booths, showcasing, demoing for startups and incumbents to brainstorm of what the “Future of Insurance” will be.
I get to the Plug and Play area to fist-bump a couple of our fellow insurtech batch startups.

First 1:1 meeting at 9am with a captive insurance manager based on the west coast. Great fit, specialty insurance, risks “hard to place”, 100% my wheelhouse. Good meetup.
Then went on with B2B meetings with an insurtech VC, a NY fund, and an innovation specialist.

Got my 2nd coffee fix, then met with Matt Carey, Head of Insurance Solutions at NYDIG, a crypto/blockchain specializing digital custory — awesome convo, definitely some potential there.
Karolina and Melvin from Hillside VC (Connecticut-run) joined me for a quick 15-min intro, their fund's structure is very impressive, will definitely follow up later.

Caught up with our legal counsel Dennis at SAUL who’s also attending the conference, and chatted about MGA, licensing, D&O and Phila Eagles!
Glad I also managed to meet in person with a fellow French Founders member, Nic Berg, expert in Claims and Underwriting — sounds like good brainstorming can come out of these conversations.
I eventually met in person Al Kennedy from HannoverRe, whom I met on zoom earlier in 2021, who mentioned he should be able to redirect me to right person internally for our MGA program.
5pm, I ran to the BMS Re party — great crowd, specialty insurers, investors, brokers, and good Tex-Mex food.
Last one of the day, got together with fellow ERA founder, Tim Dipietro, CEO of StartSure, grabbed dinner together, shared stories around our fundraising experience (gasp!), traveling in Vietnam, and the Dolce Vita in the South of France.

Time for the MGM room 4–544. Operating system shutdown.

Day 3: A Night at the Opera.

Alarm 7.03am. Lesson learned from prior days: order Starbucks on the app and skip the 30-min line.
Wipe emails backlog out, pack luggage up and drop off at the bellman.
First meeting at the Delano, literally 20min walk from the Mandalay convention center.

The VC guy spots me thanks to my branded shirt, and we get into the elevator to the 60th floor. Direction presidential suite: 2 investors waiting for me. The view on the Vegas rocky mountains skyline is phenomenal. Literally takes me 5min to get situated and I start my pitch. Good convo, definitely better than the speed-dating like disco at the expo center.

20min walk back to the convention center. Change of topics: solar panel parametric insurance with the head manager at a captive insurance, located in the NorthWest. Potential partnership there. Let’s see.
Last meeting of the morning with Two Sigma/data analytics and on with lunch.

I pick a lunchbox sponsored by Nayya (another ERA company!) and listen in one of the panels around incumbents insurance analytics automation and what-not… not trying to fall asleep while fueling up.

Speaking of ERA, I get to my pm meetup with accelerator fellow Nestor Solari, Sigo Seguro CEO. We catch up on the usuals: MGA, marketing sales, capacity… and… and our favorite topic, fundraising :) After meeting up at the Bold Penguin booth, we walk over to the Expo Center and run into Greg Boutin, CEO of Relay Platform, along with Dogan Kaleli CEO of Stere.io, right over the Plug and Play area, and get deep into digital brokerage, insurance program, marine sector, and other blockchain products.
Right on time for another elevator trip up to the 56th floor of the Mandalay to meet the Head of Underwriting at a Tier-1 reinsurer. Definitely, good intro call, follow up next week.

Last meetup of the day, last investor, who turned out I already met via zoom 6 months earlier.
By 5pm, the Expo Hall starts serving booz, I cave in and pop a Stella, and start like it’s Friday night (it really is Wednesday though!).
Dan and Oliver join me for some HH at the Liberate, where we nerd about the Lloyd’s market and how we believe our insurtech ventures will disrupt the establishment.

I then top it up with a special one: I managed to buy a last-minute ticket to the David Copperfield residency show at the MGM, haha! Geesh, that was something, I guess I’ll put that one on the account of my childhood nostalgia— I reckon it didn’t age that well!

Ok, last push of the trip: ITC 2021 closing party, featuring rap-star legend, Ludacris, where I virtually stayed 20min, before taking off to the McCarran airport… where a delicious red-eye midnight flight back to JFK awaits me.

12.03am. JetBlue flight 2348 takes off. I pass out. Phew, quite the 72 hours trip.

Takeaways:

  • 24 meetings booked in 3 days (insane!).
  • Plus another dozen were booked in the following 10 days that couldn't get scheduled during the event.
  • Incredible panels: Insurers were all the rage about tech. Feedback from large carriers was that they’ve been doubling their tech budget every year for the past 5 years and this is not enough.
  • A number of digital brokers were in full agreement that cargo is the next vertical to be disrupted in insurance and our positioning makes a ton of sense.
  • Parametric has gained ground and is on the mind of a lot of people. I ran into Kate Stillwell CEO of Jumpstart Recovery (an earthquake parametric insurance), who just sold her startup. She started operations in 2017–2018, so quick turnaround!
  • A lot of interests from a variety of risk capital providers (capacity): reinsurers, captive insurance, SPV, hedge funds, and others.

See you next year ITC!

-Yann, CEO, OTONOMI

OTONOMI is a blockchain-enabled parametric platform that transforms cargo insurance policies into fast, cost-effective, and transparent digital products.