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This AGSM MBA Is Driving InsurTech Innovation In Australia

Robert Dunn wants to make Australia one of the leading markets for insurance innovation

Fri Sep 22 2017

From peer-to-peer insurance providers to mobile apps giving instant car insurance quotes, technology startups are disrupting the insurance industry.

According to the World Insurance Report, nearly one third of customers globally rely on insurance technology—insurtech—solutions either instead of or in combination with traditional insurance providers. Some established insurance firms view the rise of insurtech with wary suspicion.

Robert Dunn co-founded InsurTech Australia in April 2017, two months into a full-time MBA at Sydney’s Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), with the mission to bring insurtech startups and traditional insurance firms together.

A division of national nonprofit FinTech Australia, InsurTech Australia is fostering an insurtech community of startups, insurers, accelerators, and investors, to make Australia one of the world’s leading markets for insurance innovation.

Robert helped organize InsurTech Sydney meetups before getting involved on a national scale.

Prior to his MBA, Robert spent over a decade in accounting and finance roles at PwC and AMP in Sydney, most recently helping to drive AMP’s corporate venture capital (VC) activities.

Determined to re-enter the VC world after graduation, he’s currently interning as a venture consultant at Aussie VC fund Right Click Capital. He’s off on an international immersion to San Francisco in December, followed by a five-month MBA exchange at Wharton in 2018.

How did the idea to start InsurTech Australia come about?

Insurtech Australia originated by a number of brilliant people coming together over a shared passion. In early 2016, Brenton Charnley and Sarah Fountain established Insurtech Meetup groups in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively. Immediately, a crew of collaborative and eager individuals assembled around them to support event activities, the ecosystem interest and engagement grew at each event.  

Our early cooperation across the Sydney and Melbourne events quickly turned into Australia-wide ambitions. Our vision is to help Australia become a world leader for insurtech by fostering a diverse community of insurance innovation and accelerating Australian insurtech startups. We’re excited to launch!

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to stand out to VC investors?

VCs are always happy to meet with entrepreneurs. The problem?  There are so many incredible founders out there. To stand out, you need to solve one problem better than anyone else, stay connected and display a track record of growth.

Find a true customer pain point and become the ultimate painkiller. Easy to say. Hard to do. But if you can maintain a clear focus on the customer, conduct routine experiments, let the data guide you and remain open by challenging your assumptions and hypotheses, then you will be on a steady trajectory to find that pain point and create differentiated solutions.  

I think Mark Suster (partner at Upfront Ventures) says it best in his blog post when he encourages entrepreneurs to: ‘Meet your potential investors early. Tell them you’re not raising money yet but that you will be in the next six months or so. Tell them you really like them so you want them to have an early view—which is what all investors want. Most importantly, tell them what you plan to achieve by the next time you see them [and do it].’ This is how entrepreneurs can display pattern of growth.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at AGSM?

I have always considered undertaking an MBA as part of my ongoing development and career journey. To be honest, I chose AGSM due to the numerous AGSM alumni I spoke to, who all provided glowing reviews. Rankings, associations and brands are all table stakes. Word of mouth was the key differentiator for me.

Whether I was speaking to an alumnus of one year or 20 years, the esteem they placed on the program was sustained throughout. They talked about the positive impact an MBA had on their career trajectory over time.

This resonated strongly with me, as I believe an MBA is not about the immediate one-to-three-year career growth payoff, but the way in which it impacts trajectory over the next five-to-fifteen years. I view the MBA as future-proofing myself, through an investment in the diversity of my skills and frameworks, in a world of increasing pace and uncertainty.

What are your plans for the future?

Post-MBA, I would like to continue my incredible journey within the startup ecosystem, working as a Venture Capital investor or an early-stage startup in Australia or the USA.

The AGSM MBA is already helping me to achieve my VC ambitions. Connections at AGSM recently opened up an opportunity work part-time with Right Click Capital, an Aussie VC fund that is supporting great local and global entrepreneurs. Since getting back into early-stage investment, I have immediately benefited from the diligence and structured thought that an MBA delivers.

AGSM has also provided me with an incredible chance to head to San Francisco on an international business experience study tour in December this year, followed by a five-month exchange at Wharton. I can’t wait to throw myself head first into the San Francisco and New York startup ecosystems.