Exclusive Interview With George Kesselman, Co-founder and CEO of InsurTechAsia

LTP recently had the pleasure of interviewing George Kesselman, Co-founder and CEO of InsurTechAsia. George is a highly experienced global financial services executive and InsurTech expert with a strong transformational leadership track record across Asia. In his relentless passion and pursuit to transform insurance, George co-founded an industry-wide innovation ecosystem in Singapore. Through InsurTechAsia, he aims to effectively attract, cultivate and rapidly scale entrepreneurial ideas in insurance; and ultimately contribute to the next wave of global revolution in insurance. George is also going to be one of the judges of the upcoming MEDICI Top 21 - Insurtech. LTP: Describe what you do in maximum 50 words.

George Kesselman: 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 a community of innovators to jointly reshape 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 like-minded insurance leaders, innovative startups and stakeholders to collaborate on solving key problems.

LTP: Please give us your definition of InsurTech.

GK: 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 (e.g.: giving agents stock iPads). Therefore, I try to unconstraint my mind when I 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 has a clever way of bringing together a community and has a buildbuilt-in transfer element through insurance).

LTP: Startups vs. Incumbent: Disruption or collaboration?

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

LTP: Name the main challenges for InsurTech startups.

GK: 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.

LTP: When you judge an InsurTech initiative, what are you looking for?

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

LTP: Advice for InsurTech entrepreneurs?

GK: Take at least one day a week or 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.

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

GK: 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 is translating into large influx of entrepreneurs, most of whom will fail within two years; a 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 the insurance industry.