PressNewsCommitmentCommunity: Competition, Coexistence or Collaboration?

Competition, Coexistence or Collaboration?

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What do an Oscar winner, a frontrunner in travels to Mars and an international insurance corporation have in common? It’s the enthusiasm for innovation and creativity, as represented at the founders fair Bits&Pretzels in Munich, where start-ups pitched their most recent ideas and more than 5,000 participants connected with an exciting community.


Allianz SE
Munich, Sep 30, 2016

Allianz-Christof Mascher, COO of Allianz SE: “We want to be the partner of life for our customers. Therefore, Allianz needs to be where our customers are – anywhere, anytime.”

Christof Mascher, COO of Allianz SE: “We want to be the partner of life for our customers. Therefore, Allianz needs to be where our customers are – anywhere, anytime.”

Kevin Spacey, Hollywood actor, tech-enthusiast and start-up investor, did not only imitate himself in his role as Francis J. Underwood in “House of Cards”, but encouraged the audience to welcome challenges in order to change the world: “We are only at the beginning of a new era of creativity”. Another piece of advice he offered the start-ups: “Don’t copy others, tell your own story”. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and various stunning initiatives, explained “A good entrepreneur surrounds himself with people that are better than himself”. In his opinion, start-ups need to have a hub to be connected, but should not limit their view to Silicon Valley: “There is an excellent community also here in Germany and in other places”. They should draw their inspiration from the desire to make other people’s lives better.

An ambition also at the core of Allianz transforming its traditional business model to a digital one. “We want to be the partner of life for our customers. Therefore, Allianz needs to be where our customers are – anywhere, anytime”, said Christof Mascher, COO of Allianz Group. Customers know best themselves, what they need and what is of value to them, whether it is their assets at home, their safety while being mobile or with regard to health and their daily life. And it is technology, that enables Allianz to provide its digital ecosystem of products and services in order to support its customers in various areas of life. To be successful in this endeavor, Allianz relies on innovation, stemming from internal development, its incubator Allianz X, but also external sources.

“To execute the digital transformation of Allianz, we are successfully partnering with innovative companies and startups”, Mascher explained. Especially through its Ventures & Strategic Partnerships team, Allianz is connected with start-ups and innovation drivers in the areas mobility, home, health, cybersecurity or Insurtech to provide better experience to its partners and customers. With regard to wealth management, Mascher said, ”As announced this morning, we are proud to have MoneyFarm as a new portfolio company and partner of Allianz.” Allianz Ventures just took a minority stake in the digital wealth manager. Paolo Galvani, Chairman of MoneyFarm, also joined a discussion panel in which CEOs of startup companies shared their experiences of “an alliance with Allianz”. Based on his first impressions, Galvani valued the good balance in the relationship and discussion level with the big corporation: “Allianz provides added-value to us in gradually developing our business together.” Nils von Dellingshausen, CEO of BetterDoc, especially mentioned the close cooperation with Allianz health insurance experts, “the financial stability of Allianz and its deep understanding of what our product and business is about”. Victor van Tol, CEO of Snappcar, highlighted “the international scale of knowledge, Allianz brings to the table”, while Robin von Hein, CEO of Simplesurance said: “Allianz really understood my vision of the company, when we negotiated the investment.” With regard to operational work von Hein sees some room for improvement regarding speed and implementation, when dealing with a big corporation. But he and the other panelist highly appreciated the great collaboration with the Allianz Ventures team, and Mascher remarked “Many thanks for your patience, and I promise, we will improve, as we need you to help us integrate innovation in our system.”

On a separate panel, Solmaz Altin, Chief Digital Officer of Allianz, with a different group of start-up CEOs, discussed where the disruption potential for the insurance industry was coming from. Christopher Oster, CEO of Clark, sees the biggest challenge in safeguarding the needed frequency of customer contact and response-rate to urgency. “Insurers need to be relevant for to the customer, providing the right offer in the right time.” According to Annette Leonhard-MacDonald, CEO of LMD Ventures, insurance services should be based more on predictive analysis, instead of just covering for something, that already happened. And for David Stubbs, CEO of RightIndem, insurance companies have not referenced themselves against leaders in other service areas, and “need to wrap themselves around the customer as Amazon does.” As Altin put, Allianz is very aware of respective pain-points and developed the necessary sense of urgency: “We see disruption as a threat, as well as an opportunity. We can only get better, while we are learning. And collaboration is a vehicle, to also change from within.” As Nektarios Liolios, Co-Founder & CEO of Startupbootcamp, put it in his opening remarks: “Start-ups are important market entrants and won’t go away, they will become a layer in the system.” So collaboration needs to be the answer for the insurance industry.

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