Full Steam Ahead
In April, BrokerTech Ventures (BTV) brought together more than 100 attendees in Iowa for 2023’s BTV Mania, a multi-day conference in Iowa allowing BTV’s 14 broker partners and 16 carrier/wholesaler partners to meet with the 12 insurtechs from BTV’s 2023 cohort.
Executives from two BTV partners, Austin Rock, executive director of strategy at Baldwin Risk Partners (BRP), and Bob Jenkins, vice president, enterprise agent experience at Travelers, as well as BTV 2023 startup Frame Fertility’s CEO and co-founder Jessica Bell van der Wal, offer key takeaways from the event.
Third Cohort Already a Standout
For Rock, BTV Mania this year emphasized how the accelerator program has grown since its inception. “This is BRP’s second full year participating in the accelerator program, and during that time we’ve worked with three cohorts,” he says. “And we’re excited about the momentum that’s building in terms of the quality of the startups that are coming through the accelerator. This year’s cohort is very strong, and BRP is already in active conversations with a number of the start-ups—last year, we had some initial dialogue with a few, but never got to a meaningful business engagement with them. From our perspective, we have been increasingly impressed by the quality of startups.”
Jenkins agrees, stating, “BTV is always improving. Everything from scouting to engagement to support continues to evolve to meet the ecosystem needs of its members.”
Rock also says that despite the current challenging economic environment, what makes a start-up worth investing in hasn’t changed. “The current environment has obviously required both startups and investors to recalibrate how they think about valuation, path to profitability, and cash burn,” Rock explains. “But the biggest differentiators at the start-up stage haven’t materially changed. How relevant and acute is the problem you’re solving? How easy is it to utilize and implement the service you’re providing? If you can meaningfully solve for those two things, interest will be there.”
The Startup Perspective
On the other side of the table, Bell van der Wal, from 2023 cohort member Frame Fertility, highlighted what she found unique and particularly valuable about being a part of BTV Mania. “There is a lot of diversity in terms of the types of companies that are there, and diversity in terms of the types of partners we might work with,” she says. “We talked to partners that I probably never would have had the chance to meet with—not just brokers, but also wholesalers and insurance carriers.
“This type of accelerator is so impactful, in many ways,” Bell van der Wal adds. “We were vetted by a lot of these [broker and carrier] partners during the application process, so that meant that they got a good sense of us, and we got a good sense of them. And so, what was so exciting and interesting about BTV Mania in particular was that when I came on site in Iowa, it wasn’t about more selling, it was ‘How do we move the ball forward?’ ‘What can we do to support you?’ And I was surprised by how many conversations were focused on how they could support next steps, not just hearing the pitch again and evaluating it again—because they already knew us really well.”