The Journey of an insurtech in current Ukraine
The tension, insecurities, worry and losses that have resulted from the war in Ukraine are heartbreaking. Dedication to furthering our industry with innovation during these times is both incomprehensible and highly commendable. That’s why we are humbled and excited to have sat down with Oleg Mishchenko, Chief Product Officer at SPOKK, an insurtech founded in Ukraine.
Oleg, what does SPOKK do? And what makes it unique?
SPOKK is a Ukrainian insurtech startup, that also sells insurance. SPOKK is focused on insurance services for digital natives. By 2025, Gen Z and Millennials will be the biggest labor force. But 40% of Gen Z and 27% of Millennials don’t have insurance at all, because digital natives are not interested in buying their own houses or cars. Their real interest lies in digital life. As an insurance industry, what can we offer these digital natives to protect their belongings? Sadly, almost nothing except our dated insurance products, a confusing process of buying insurance, unclear terms and conditions, and a painful claims process. SPOKK is offering an on-demand subscription model and up-to-date micro-insurance products to make insurance simple and affordable. There are no lengthy questionnaires, only API and Computer vision. Also, claims reimbursement is done in a few hours to the payment card. It is fast, simple, and modern insurance. Which is exactly what digital natives need. The first product we started in Ukraine was pet accident insurance. The idea was born out of our own negative experiences. Our co-founder’s dog Rocket was injured and vet bills were absolutely huge. There is no pet insurance at all in Ukraine. That’s how SPOKK has become the monopolist in the field of pet insurance in the Ukrainian market.
That does sound like easy insurance! But what does the buying process look like?
This is really easy as well! You just choose the product you need. Then give us some basic information about yourself and the object you want to cover. After this, you will be redirected to the payment page. You can purchase the insurance in only 3 minutes. The claims process is also very easy. You’ll only have to answer two questions: What happened? And when? Then you can upload the necessary documents and voila: you’ll receive money directly on your payment card in just a few hours.
How does the technology work?
Our unique technology uses artificial intelligence to recognize pets with face recognition, it detects dogs’ or cats’ faces and verifies their ownership. First, the user uploads a picture of his or her pet. Then the neural network uses the shape of the pet to identify the type of animal and proposes the most likely breed. This greatly simplifies the insurance registration process and reduces the registration time to 2-3 clicks during the claims process. It helps us to identify the animal to avoid any fraud. This technology also makes it possible to bring the image to life: each insured Fluffy can get its own avatar, which can speak with his owner, which is of course a lot of fun. But it can also be useful: for example, your pet can help you navigate on the website or the mobile application and maybe even become an NFT item.
Are there any other SPOKK products being planned?
In the next two years, we’re going to offer a number of modern microinsurance products: crypto wallet insurance, game account breach insurance, and NFT items insurance. Basically all kinds of things that digital natives are interested in. But we want to go further. SPOKK raised the first investments and made a successful start in Ukraine. This past year, we raised investment from a seed venture fund and launched in the U.S. We are going to expand with more products and planning to get licenses in all 50 states of America. We also have a plan to enter other global markets.
There is a strong push for digitalization here in Ukraine: the main goal of Ukrainian digitalization is to replace bureaucrats with smartphone applications. As you know, Ukraine became the first country in the world with a digital ID. Ukrainians are able to carry out all administrative tasks without visiting government offices or filling out paper forms. Moreover, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine also aims to replace paper money with digital currency. They also strive for more education and health services online as much as possible. The Diia portal gives Ukrainian citizens access to their digital documents such as passports, driver’s licenses, and COVID certificates on their smartphones. The portal allows access to over 50 governmental services. The SPOKK team also aims to integrate our services with Diia.
How are startups doing in the current war?
Despite the war, Ukrainian startups have demonstrated resilience and continue to conduct their business. 2021 was a record year for Ukrainian startups. They attracted over $1.7 billion in investments, but the war changed everything. Today, nearly 91% of Ukrainian startups need financial support and 28% of them have stopped their operations in Ukraine. But most startups have found a solution to adapt to the new reality. Today, product startups in Ukraine are getting a unique chance to play a bigger role in the IT market in Ukraine, which before the war was mostly dominated by service and outsourcing companies. Military, cybersecurity, construction, infrastructure, education, medicine, agriculture, and green technology will be the sectors in which innovation from Ukrainian startups will be most in demand.
Initially, when the invasion started, SPOKK and many other Ukrainian companies were in shock. Our primary goal was to make sure our teams and their families were safe. And the same for our clients and our partners. It was clear that we would continue our business. But for this, we had to develop a new strategy, adjusted for the current situation. We were afraid that demand for animal insurance would decrease. But the fact is that one of the insured risks included in a SPOKK-insured plan is the risk of damage by weapons and the risk of damage by third parties. Most of all, people in Ukraine worry about their safety and the safety of their relatives and pets. That’s why they trust and continue to insure their pets with SPOKK. We feel responsible for their trust and that’s why we do our best to provide them with the best professional services.
After the war started, some of our team members had to leave Ukraine for their safety. But all our team members are making every effort to bring the Ukrainian victory closer. Dmytro, our vet expert, has been serving in the Air Force of Ukraine, fighting and at the same time continuing to work at SPOKK. SPOKK is also donating 20% of each policy sold to the charity foundation Happy Paw, which supports animals that are struggling due to the war in Ukraine. Our CMO Inessa is a volunteer in a pet shelter and animal organization that rescues animals from the war in Ukraine. We are really proud of our team. We have a lot of experience in the insurance industry, software development, and marketing & PR. That is why we are sure of our future success and will continue our journey here in Ukraine – and beyond.
ITC DIA Europe 2023
We are honoured and humbled that SPOKK will be on stage at ITC DIA Europe this June in Barcelona.