When I think of Paris, I think of Eugène Delacroix and the Louvre, I think of sipping a 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape at a wrought iron table gazing out at the Eiffel Tower. The perfectly curated pairing of tradition and edginess, of form and function, in every view, every conversation, every bite of food and every sip of wine.
The last thing I think of is… insurance and technology.
Despite my romantic feelings about Paris and the very unromantic notion of insurance, Paris seems to be an appropriate backdrop for one of the top insurtech startup companies in the world, Shift-Technology.
Last week’s article focused on the disconnects and the challenges surrounding insurtech startups and legacy carriers. I wanted to follow up with a startup that has proven itself successful and continues its efficacious journey in this space, centering on the differentiators that set the 10% of successful insurtech startups apart from the 90% that are destined for failure. Shift-Technology certainly fits this bill.
Who and What is Shift?
Shift-Technology was founded in 2014 in Paris by Jérémy Jawish, Eric Sibony, and David Durrleman. These guys didn’t just see the opportunity window in the digital transformation of the insurance industry, and then scramble to create something to sell. No, these guys worked in fraud detection and in claims, and through their own experiences said, wait a minute… this could be done better. And faster. In fact, let’s automate the processes building unique AI-native based models that are tailored to the individual needs of carriers, and let’s make sure that we can use data in any format and in any way that an insurer can provide it. (In French, of course.) And, that’s just what they did.
To learn exactly how the technology works, Shift’s fraud detection technology, FORCE and their claims automation technology, LUKE, about Shift’s 75% hit rate, or more about the AI-Native advantage, click here.
Shift’s technology is truly fascinating and unmatched, but I want to look a little deeper into the reasons for achievement in such a highly competitive arena.
The Key Shift
Shift is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company. Shift emphasizes the ‘As A Service’ portion of this title and works to build its models up and out from the client’s needs, not the other way around. Just like the great city of their origin, it is all about the well-manicured and thoughtful experience. Many other startups solving for the claims processes and fraud detection challenges are building isolated models within a line of business, specific to coverage type. Shift takes a different approach.
Dan Donovan, Head of Customer Success Global for Shift-Technology, stated that at Shift “We are not building you a specific model for a specific coverage. We’re building you a model for an entire line of business. So, from a total cost of ownership and value perspective, you get a lot more from that type of approach. It really comes back to our Software as a Service mentality and how much value can we bring in any given area.” Thanks, Dan.
We’re talking about a partnership, not a product.
After incredible success abroad, Shift is now hoping to emulate that growth in the U.S. by bringing their partnership mentality to carriers in the states. (And, what’s really cool is that the way the technology is built, it brings the same level of value to the smallest of insurers as it does to the giant ones.)
Rob Morton, Head of Corporate Communications at Shift also helped me to understand more about this partnership priority, “Our core focus helped us because when we started the company, we did things like have our data scientists sit with claims people, sit with SIU investigators, etc. This is something we always ask our clients, can our folks come and spend three months sitting in your organization and we’ll work with you while we’re building the project into deployment? We want our data scientists, the people who are going to build these models, to really, truly understand the business and what’s important to the business, and what the business’ pain points are, so that we’re not just coming at it as scientists trying to solve some problem. We’re coming at this problem with and from a business perspective, with an understanding of what’s important to the business. This foundation was critical to Shift’s rapid growth and success, to really understanding our clients in a way that a lot of other companies don’t bother to do. Our founders started working in insurance companies, so they understood what went on in that business and how important that knowledge was in developing a product that would be accepted and embraced by end-users. And that’s really one of the big feats as a SaaS, you have to offer something that is going to bring value. The minute you stop bringing value, customers can stop using your service. It’s not licensed software that you have 3 years of revenue on. It doesn’t work that way. So, this idea of constantly bringing value is a critical component of the way our company was designed and to do this we need to know our customers deeply and intimately and understand their business, and what’s important to them.”
That’s success by culture in nutshell.
Shift’s data scientists “live” with the customers for the life of the engagement from day one, and clients have direct access to these data scientists throughout. These guys (and gals) help to build the models and projects around what the client needs and together they partner to create a masterpiece that everyone has put their ideas and energy into. They work together as a team to see what works, what doesn’t work and constantly take client feedback to push through to a successful and enjoyable production.
Another subtle, yet important cultural attribute that caught my attention was Shift’s dedication to the value of transparency with and additional benefits for their clients. “We always give clients’ data back better than when we received it.” Shift takes any and all data, in any format, that clients share with them and they add immeasurable value by providing back to the client their cleaned, mapped, restructured data in an actionable format to use as they wish that, for the client, would have been much more difficult to access internally. The client also has access to the entire process of what, when, and how their data is being processed. This is not a magic black box, this is a science that is openly shared and collaborated with Shift’s clients every step of the way.
Vendors? No, partners.
No one can do it alone, insurtech companies and legacy carriers alike. That’s why Shift is a great example of that Parisian mentality of bringing something beautiful to the table and making it appear seamless. They make it easy to work together toward their common goal, the consumer. So many insurtech companies and startups are out to supplant traditional carriers instead of aid them in their pursuit of a better experience for everyone.
Shift flips this path on its head by combining their insurance industry expertise and their partnership-minded approach leading to the successes they have already had abroad and, I’m predicting, will continue to have with U.S. P&C and healthcare insurers.
I think, in many ways, customer service can be traced back to a foundation of culture and attention to detail, and in the United States and in the insurance industry we have built here, customer service got lost in the mix somewhere along the way. This focus is, undoubtedly re-surging with carriers across every line of business, and Shift is coming over to aid in bringing this culture back by providing a great B2B customer service and experience so that insurers can, in turn, provide this customer service and experience to their customers through the automation and optimization of great technology.
“To your point, Lanaya, about the importance of a startup who understands the business, these guys [the three founders of Shift-Technology] got that early on and made that a core part of their focus. It wasn’t just about the zeros and the ones and the algorithms. It was just as much about the business as it was about the technology. And I think that, right there, is what has led to the fast and growing success here for us at Shift.”
And that, right there, is the real differentiator.
Excited to watch you continue to grow, Shift-Technology.