Johannesburg-based peer to peer insurtech startup, Pineapple, has won $1.5 million after turned up first in a US startup competition.
The competition, VentureClash, is a $5 million global venture challenge for early-stage startups and is managed by Connecticut Innovations. It gathers tech-enabled startups from the sectors healthtech, insurtech, fintech, and Internet of Things (IoT) to compete for several fields such as investment, mentorship, introduction to customers.
The startup gained the top position in a live pitch event at Yale University against nine other startups where three were from the US, four from Israel, and two from Canada. Pineapple had been announced a finalist in the competition last month. It was also the only African startup to reach the finals, having been selected from 300 startups that applied from twenty countries around the world.
Matthew Elan Smith, a co-founder at the startup mentioned how they had been excited just to be in the top ten, terming their competitors as ‘truly amazing companies.’
“We are extremely humbled by this award and too grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way. From the Hannover Re Group in SA, Compass Insure, ASISA ESD Fund managed by Edge Growth, as well as the people of Connecticut who have received us with open arms, especially the teams at StartupBootCamp, Travelers, CTi and Nassau Re, to name a few,” Elan added.
The startup reportedly will use the prize money to develop its motor insurance product that has been in the works and is set to launch in six months. Part of the funds could also be used to venture into the US market, as talks with a US partner were at an advanced stage.
Founded in 2017 by Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden, Pineapple had come together to discover innovative and disruptive models in the reinsurance and insurance space at an innovation competition run by Hannover-Re, the third-largest reinsurance company in the world.
Pineapple enables users to ensure their products by taking a photo of their possessions and uploading them to its mobile application. The app also allows users to add things to their asset register to insure them later.
Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube, commenting on the winning, added, “We are excited about what this means for the future of software development in South Africa. It shows that we can compete on a global stage and that there is a bright future for the South African technology industry.”