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Mass Fintech Hub member Surround Insurance is a startup digital agency which offers insurance to a drastically underserved demographic: today’s generation of young adults. We chatted with its co-founder and CEO, Kate Terry, about the unique needs of this demographic, the importance of collaboration and why the company calls Massachusetts home.

What made you decide to set up Surround Insurance?

Young adults’ lives and work are very different to those who were that age 20 years ago – not least because their lives incorporate a lot of technology, and because they’re typically much more asset-light than their predecessors.

That means their insurance needs are very different. For example, 20 years ago, you finished graduate school, bought a car, and got car insurance. Today, you finish graduate school, book a car subscription on an app. Similarly, many young adults wait a lot longer before buying property – they’re renting where they live, or roaming the world as digital nomads, and need insurance for the short-term lets they’re doing when traveling.

These are scenarios which leave traditional insurance companies flummoxed, and young adults frustrated, because the former haven’t been able to adapt fast enough.

This is where we come in. We combine deep and empathetic insights into our target audience with warm customer service and sophisticated tech to facilitate insurance for these kinds of scenarios.

On the Surround Insurance website, it says “Made in Boston with Love”. Could you tell us about what being based in this city – and the state of Massachusetts – means to you?

Boston was an obvious choice when it came to deciding where to set up shop. My co-founder, Jay Grayson, and I are both longtime insurance executives at big local players: he was at Liberty Mutual and I was both there and at Plymouth Rock.

Surround Insurance has always been inextricably a part of the Massachusetts fintech ecosystem: really early on, we were in the first cohort of MassChallenge FinTech, where we partnered with MassMutual; we tested some pilots with them and did a lot of thinking with a number of their senior staff. We ended up winning the Platinum Award and our relationship with MassMutual has gone from strength to strength: its Catalyst Fund was the lead investor for our most recent round of seed funding and Jason Allen, our investor partner over there, sits on our board. The degree of support we’ve had from MassMutual in the community at large has really been amazing – it's really helped us a lot.

Tell us about why collaboration matters to you?

One of our main distribution channels is partnerships. We typically partner either with startups much larger than us that have a product they're selling where customers need insurance, or we partner with financial services players who don’t do insurance but have a young adult clientele and don’t want to send them to a more traditional, old school agency which has paper forms and that sort of thing.

While we see ourselves as disruptors, we have never believed that the insurance industry is inherently broken. It works well but it’s imperfect: it doesn't adapt as fast as it needs to, especially when it comes to underserved markets like young adults. We’ve always believed that the best way to serve customers – and to be successful in this space – involves collaboration.

What made you decide to join Mass Fintech Hub?

Joining the Hub has given us the opportunity to interact with a broad set of stakeholders, including potential collaborators and those who can offer help. It’s a two-way street: we believe we can contribute towards other companies growing their business too.

I’m excited about the Hub’s networking opportunities, especially at its speaking events. Seeing people repeatedly who have the same set of interests in the same community allows us to build stronger relationships.

The Hub does a great job at bringing together really interesting people, and wonderful things can happen in the informal conversations you have before or after an event – interactions that spark interesting ideas and opportunities to contribute or receive input.

And, we have been thrilled to be involved in much of the Hub’s programming. We pitched at the organization’s first-ever Fintech Forum, which gave us an opportunity to connect with potential clients. And just this April, we participated in the Hub’s most recent Fintech Bootcamp for students, which took place at Babson College and allowed us to connect with the next generation of fintech leaders.

What advice would you give to people considering launching a startup in the Massachusetts fintech space?

This is an incredibly supportive community! If you show up a few times and you'll start recognizing familiar faces and you'll find that people are super helpful. Investing time and effort into cultivating warm relationships with others in the community will pay off handsomely – both personally and professionally.

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18th Dec 2023 Uncategorised

Born in the Commonwealth, used around the globe: The Massachusetts-based...