Jan-Philipp Kruip is the co-founder and CEO of FitSense – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) which allows insurance companies to integrate data from mobile and wearable devices to gather actionable insights, and provide more personalised insurance policies.
Human Asia eagerly spoke to Jan-Philipp (JP) recently.
Tell us a brief history on how this idea first came about. Was this part of a NUS project?
JP: FitSense started as a data platform for public health and medical research. My co-founder Alvaro Gauterin had developed it while working as a research engineer at the National University of Singapore.
The idea was to use wearable devices to more accurately capture physical activity in studies relating to the impact of lifestyle behaviour on health and longevity.
He started to get more and more inquiries about the usage of the platform and felt it might have commercial applicability beyond research. I met Alvaro around that time and decided to help him. So, our journey was really about finding a problem for our solution.
How would Fitsense help the insurance industry?
JP: With FitSense, consumers can choose to share relevant information with insurers quickly and conveniently by accessing data that is stored in their mobile apps; this can make the application process faster, get them more personalized product and services and/or special rates.
Insurers, in turn, can use that information to attract new customers and engage with existing ones by offering better, more targeted products and services.
Our core offer is a white-label solution for insurers to attract new customers and improve loyalty while helping individuals to live healthier and save on their insurance.
It consists of a range of life insurance products that motivate and reward customers with premium discounts for being physically active through our mobile app.
Life insurance can protect people against the financial consequences of disability and death – but better than that, the best insurance is actually looking after one’s own health.
We all know this is not always easy, and providing that extra bit of motivation through real-world rewards is a real opportunity for insurers to engage with their customers in a meaningful way.
FitSense, together with our reinsurance partner Munich Re, can offer insurers the complete solution from end-to-end: insurance product, mobile app, and analytics. This takes out a lot of the complexity and cost of developing such an offer in-house.
What personal data are you retrieving from these wearable gadgets?
JP: We limit the data that we collect to what is strictly necessary to offer a specific discount and/or speed up the underwriting process. In the case of our mobile app, we collect exercise data from the most popular health and fitness apps.
We use this data to compute our ActivityScore and in turn premium discounts. We’ve started to look at additional data like sleep, mindfulness, nutrition and collecting health information from health screenings with third party providers.
The goal must always be to support customers in their quest for better health – a shared goal between the insurer and the insured. Many people are distrusting insurance companies and by responsibly using the data customers provide through our technology insurers have the chance to restore that trust.
What challenges are you facing right now for FitSense?
JP: Establishing the trust between insurers and consumers so that consumers feel comfortable to share data has been a real challenge. In the future, people will store more and more online personal data and this creates an incredible opportunity for insurance companies to be able to serve their customers better.
But unless they prove them today, consumers won’t feel comfortable sharing this data. We’ve had to do a lot of market education and managing the sales and implementation cycle with insurers at times became a real struggle.
Cover-More group has bought a stake into the business. How will this funding help in the expansion of the business?
JP: With Cover-More, we have found a great partner. Besides investment to allow us to grow and develop the business with less focus on short-term cash flow, they can give us access to 23 markets globally and really help us scale.
JP, please tell us more about yourself and your background before starting FitSense.
JP: I studied business and economics and started my career in management consulting in Munich, Germany. After that, I worked in a project management role for a large multinational based out of Singapore.
It’s helped me to become very structured and organized and also to understand the sometimes convoluted processes within large organizations which helped me a lot with FitSense.
My co-founder Alvaro is deeply technical. He is a computer scientist with a background in robotics and AI. Sometimes, I feel he is a bit of a robot himself. I believe we complement each other perfectly.
How did you meet Alvaro, your co-founder?
JP: My co-founder had published a profile about the technology that he had developed while at NUS and was looking for someone to help him commercialize it. I read the profile, became interested and met with him in person.
It clicked quite quickly. In terms of skills set, we are very different but we also felt that we can trust each other 100% and were aligned with our goals and work ethic.
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Is this venture a deviation from what you set out to do in life, or is entrepreneurship something you’ve always wanted to do?
JP: Entrepreneurship is not something that I’ve always planned to do. But I’ve always had a great interest in business and what makes great companies tick. When the opportunity presented itself, I felt co-founding my own company would help me get answers faster than staying with a large corporation.
What is the biggest thing that you have learned from this entrepreneurial venture, and what would you have done differently if you could go back?
JP: There are many things I would have done differently if I could go back. But the biggest learning for me has been to say no. Time is the biggest threat for startups and it’s tempting to jump at every opportunity that presents itself to a young startup.
But there are times when you just need to keep your head down and execute. To know when it’s time to focus and when to hustle comes with experience but it’s worthwhile to be mindful of that.
Final advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JP: If you’re aspiring to become an entrepreneur, consider joining a funded early-stage company for a couple of years before setting out on your own. You will learn tons that will make you a better entrepreneur without the soul-crushing pressure of a quickly depleting personal savings account.
You can visit FitSense at http://fitsense.io/
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