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InsurTech In Winning MODE


After 48 hours of hard work, #HartfordHack17 has the results of the InsurTech Hackathon Weekend. Congratulations to MODE and DroneNet!


MODE won the $5,000 Travelers first prize. MODE promises to be a start-up insurer offering coverage to artists, with a social responsibility flare - they also give away policies to other artists. The team impressed the judges of their progress. MODE founder, Aasta Frascati-Robinson did not even know about the hackathon until 2 days before it's start. In 48 hours, Aasta and team built a working prototype with integration to a 3rd party artist website, promoted it on social media, received 2,000+ interactions, and was able to demo a working website and mobile app. Now that's InsurTech!


DroneNet won the $3,000 XL Catlin second prize. DroneNet brings Drone-as-a-service to the insurance industry. Insurers face scalability and cost issues for drone services, and DroneNet's platform promises a way to give them the same flexibility for drones as Uber gives for rides. Judges and mentors were impressed with how well the team adapted to feedback and progressed their platform and business plan over the weekend. Founder Michael Xu has a good vision for the platform.


The event had 10 great entries in all. Others we saw include:

  • Nate Eusko's Engage promises to make insurance better through insurer and policy holder interactions

  • Nick Khamarji's Ronoco platform strives to make insurance great

  • James Pickney's team from UHart's CS club made substantial progress on Soteria, a tool designed to simplify the claim process through better recording of assets

  • Avdhesh Saxena sold the audience on chatbots with Friendly Agent Bot

  • Mike Zhang and R3 (R-cubed) team offered amazing services designed to improve usage based insurance rating

  • Kurt Thoennessen brought promise to the 17,000 agents across the US who service high-net-worth clients by offering a tool he prototyped himself to other agents

  • Roshan Zubair has great goals and vision for EZ Insure, a platform designed to make population health control possible through data and metrics

  • Dina Belyayeva wants to make small and medium business safer places to work, resulting in improved productivity for their business, and reduced workers compensation claims for insurers


Ian Harrington did a great job as MC for the entire weekend. The entire Upward Hartford team worked hard to ensure everything went off without missing a beat, all the way down to the live music from New Amsterdam Nobles. The food from Billings Forge was amazing, too. Everyone gave a big thanks to Chris Dudanowicz for his hard work all throughout the weekend.


UCONN, University of Hartford, and Trinity College had strong showings after promoting the event within their campus. Over 50 students came from these community-oriented universities. The event sponsors made things exciting. Travelers and XL Catlin, two companies known for their innovation in the insurance industry and InsurTech ventures, sponsored the prizes and helped mentor and judging support.


Judges included Eric Knight, serial inventor and entrepreneur, Joe DeMartino, investor, Nellie Contaldi, VP of Ceded-Re Operations at XL Catlin, and Jeff Ryan, Claim Chief Architect at Travelers. Jeff also gave a great impromptu talk Saturday night, informing everyone why insurance is important.


Mentors included Rachel Dantess, Boris Kazak, Jim WilsonDavid Cartagena, Shanna Schlossberg, and Stacey Brown. Congratulations to mentor Kirill Bensenoff for the new baby. Kirill, who was unable stay for the entire event (for obvious reasons), was very instrumental to the planning that went into the event.


The insurance industry's future continues to unfold in Hartford. Keep an eye for more events from InsurTech Hartford and Upward Hartford.


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