How an insurance executive turned his vision for chatbot-assisted insurance quotes into a prototype to attract partners and investors
Throughout more than a decade spent in the insurance industry, Alexandre Guilbert—entrepreneur and owner of GC Assurances—had built a business case around his vision for a new automation solution. His idea was a big one: to provide real-time car insurance quotes, policy management, and claims services all through SMS, Facebook Messenger, and Google Assistant. 100% automated. 100% personalized. He called it Konneko.
Although Guilbert had the general product design for Konneko already in place, as well as backing from his own insurance brokerage, GC Assurances, and a partnership with Aviva, a Canadian insurance company, he needed a skilled consultant with a strong technical pedigree to guide the project and turn this vision into something tangible—to build a workable prototype that could be used to pitch partners and potential investors.
Find a technical advisor with a dev background to turn a big idea into a game-changing insurance automation app
From the perspective of industry need and investor viability, Guilbert knew that Konneko could make the automobile insurance brokerage industry better. Fast and personalized car insurance quotes, all automated with a chatbot, would be a win-win for consumers and insurance companies alike—an always-on assistant that helps people save time and money on car insurance. What he lacked was the technical background needed to put together the right team, with the right technical talent, in his home city of Montreal.
“For startups, it is difficult to recruit developers with the experience and understanding of the startup world needed to advise an entire project,” says Guilbert. “The first developer I talked to left me hanging for a couple of months without delivering any results, which cost me money and time and made me very skeptical.”
Of the more reliable and experienced developers that Guilbert recruited, few were able to adequately calibrate the project’s scope and take ownership of the technical decisions. “Each developer I spoke to had different ideas on which coding languages to use for the app,” adds Guilbert. “They were asking me to decide between PHP, Java, and Python. I soon realized that, as someone without a tech background, I either had to learn all of this myself or find someone a consultant, as opposed to simply a developer—someone who knows how to build an app properly, start to finish.”
Difficulty finding the right developer in Montreal
Big vision, limited technical background
Limited budget and bandwidth
Outsource to a experienced technical consultant capable of going beyond development to manage the process end to end
After a number of false starts with local developers in Montreal, Guilbert contacted technical advisor and full-stack developer Jevin Maltais of The Remote CTO. “Admittedly, I was apprehensive after my experience with previous developers,” recalls Guilbert. “Early on, I was constantly asking for feedback and follow-ups. This is where Jevin’s strength as a consultant was most noticeable.”
From the outset, the team at The Remote CTO worked with Guilbert to plan a path to realizing his vision for Konneko. During the first phase, Jevin from The Remote CTO connected a chatbot to the proprietary insurance API. From there, the two worked together to map out an initial prototype of the chatbot, called Ava. During this second, more time-intensive phase, The Remote CTO strategically outsourced certain aspects of the development process to help stay within budget and keep the timeline on track.
Finally, Jevin from The Remote CTO identified an off-the-shelf tool that the team could integrate with to capture all log requests, communication, and progress monitoring. Not only did this help keep Guilbert up to speed on the project, but it helped speed up deployment by eliminating the need to devote hours to developing a tool from scratch.
“Before moving forward and continuing to invest money in this idea, I needed the full picture from someone who knows. Technical feasibility, scope, limitations—everything, so I could make the strongest pitch possible to secure investment and partnerships.”
Entrepreneur and Owner of GC Assurances
Secure interest and investment with a viable prototype
Within a month of working with The Remote CTO, Guilbert had a workable proof of concept (minimum viable product) for Konneko. Within six months, The Remote CTO was able to address additional requests and necessary expansions in scope to arrive at a viable demo to use while pitching Konneko to potential investors and partners.
Guilbert is now actively using this prototype to pitch potential investors and partners. His vision is to turn this idea into more than just an app. His aim is to build a comprehensive platform that can take information from multiple sources, connect with various back office systems using an API, and further assist and automate time- and cost-intensive operations.