By Tom Austin WG’15 (Team Leader) and Zack Stiefler WG’15 (Team Member) for Bungalow Insurance
Bungalow Insurance is using technology and design to create an insurance experience that meets the needs, habits and expectations of Millennial consumers.
What’s new and exciting about your business plan?
We think we’ve found a way to bring innovation to an industry (insurance) that has struggled to meet the expectations of the next generation of consumers. Most startups in the insurance space (and there aren’t many!) try to go after auto insurance, but we think renters insurance is actually the product that the Millennial generation needs the most.
Meeting that need with a modern online purchasing experience has the potential to change how the entire trillion dollar insurance industry thinks about the next 20 years.
How did you come up with this idea?
As renters since college, we had both repeatedly been frustrated with the lack of transparency and the difficulty associated with purchasing renters insurance. Why did we have to talk to agents? What does the insurance even cover? Why can’t it just be like Amazon?
Coming from jobs in financial services, we also knew that these big insurance companies were struggling with innovation. We realized we could make the process better and potentially change an entire industry at the same time.
What does it mean to you to be one of the eight finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?
Being a finalist is first and foremost incredible validation for all the work and thinking we’ve put into this venture over the past year. Trying to break into an old-fashioned industry like insurance left us thinking we were crazy for trying more than once, so it’s always great to see that other successful also people believe in our vision.
Beyond that, the resources that the WBPC provided for competitors along the way have been outstanding. We are still in regular contact with advisors and investors that we met during the process, and this competition has undoubtedly helped Bungalow gain traction.
What’s one fun fact about each member of your team?
In his spare time, Zack enjoys solving various types of puzzles and recently competed in the National Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He hopes to one day get Will Shortz to use “Bungalow” in a NYTimes crossword.
Prior to graduating from Duke University in 2008 with a B.S. in Economics, Tom spent his summers selling $1,500 vacuums door-to-door in his home state of Maine. Most other things seem easy after that.
If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 cash prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services, GLG Share Fellowship), what will you do with the money?
Where do we start?! We are currently mapping out our marketing strategy for the summer moving season and we would love to create an integrated marketing campaign leveraging both physical and digital assets.
We are also looking to hire salespeople and additional development resources to help us roll out the next version of our website and grow in additional geographies.