People jog as Singapore flyer stands in the background in Singapore (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)  

Startup Street: Insurance For Running A Marathon? Why Not

This week on Startup Street, an insurance intermediary wants you to buy covers for everything from fitness to parties. Micromax co-founder starts another new venture that is building an AI-enabled electric motorcycle. And the Commerce Ministry releases its vision for startups for the next five years. Here’s what went on:

Symbo Offers Event-Based Insurance

Two-year-old Symbo Insurance is trying to bring the culture of event-specific insurances in India, including for marathons and the New Year’s eve parties.

The startup distributes these covers through tie-ups with corporates or institutions by integrating its technology with their backend. This allows the startup to acquire customers without any direct human contact, minimising costs.

Claims are settled through the same tech platform, Chief Executive Office Anik Jain told BloombergQuint in an interview. “Insurance is a commodity sold, not purchased,” he said, explaining why it is usually so expensive. Cutting out salespersons allows the startup to sell the innovative products at a lower price.

Symbo may be one of the first startups to introduce such products in India, but they're only the brokers, Jain clarified. “The products are created by insurance companies—like the marathon insurance is created by Reliance General Insurance and another is created by IFFCO Tokio. The insurers get the insurance premium and settle the claims, but it is through us and we get a commission,” he said. The startup’s commission ranges from 10-20 percent.

Jain explained the key to selling such products is the tech platform they provide. “We don’t want to spend too much on marketing as it will increase the cost of the product—sometimes three times that of the premium.”

The startup offers benefit-based insurance—where an amount is paid to the insured party in full if the event occurs, instead of requiring a process that needs to assess how much money the insured should receive. “It's more of a yes or no situation" he said. “It can easily be done through an interface.”

For instance, the fitness insurance covers a fitness enthusiast in case of an injury, say a fracture. Symbo would then clear anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000. Similarly, in case of Marathon insurance, the cover includes things like the event getting cancelled or the buyer getting injured. Symbo would pay the insured an agreed-upon sum if the event gets cancelled, even without it being claimed.

The startup is part of a growing trend across the world where insurance companies are looking to expand their coverage. In 2014, Chinese company Zhong’an Insurance introduced a product that covers you for “heartbreak” if your favourite team is eliminated during the Football World Cup.

Symbo decided to focus on areas such as health and fitness, along with women’s issues. The company recently introduced a product for breast cancer and cervical cancer.

The company, backed by AJ Capital which also handles finances for the Jhunjhunwala family, recently received a brokerage licence for Singapore and looks to slowly expand to other South East Asian countries. Symbo Insurance is set to break even around this time next year, Jain said.

Micromax Co-Founder Is Now Building Electric Motorcycles

Rahul Sharma, co-founder of Micromax Informatics Ltd. (Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg)
Rahul Sharma, co-founder of Micromax Informatics Ltd. (Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg)

Rahul Sharma, co-founder of Micromax, was among the early spotters of the Indian demand for low-cost smartphones. Just over five years ago, its mobiles sold like hotcakes, making it the tenth largest smartphone vendor in the world. That was before the Chinese incursion in India's mobile handset market happened.

Now Sharma is placing his bets on another nascent market: electric mobility. He founded an automotive company Revolt Intellicorp Pvt. Ltd. And their first product is an AI-enabled electric motorcycle.

The motorcycle, which is expected to debut in June, has received certification from the Automotive Research Association of India. It runs on a lithium-ion battery and has a range of 156 kilometres, according to the company's media statement. Not much else has been revealed about the motorcycle apart from a sketch.

Source: Revolt Motors
Source: Revolt Motors

“When we started developing the product, we had to put together performance, form factor and aesthetics into a powerful package,” Sharma said in the statement. “We invested a lot of time testing it internally to make sure we have a winner before sending it to the ARAI. The speedy ARAI certification is a huge endorsement to our efforts over the last two years.”

Revolt signed up IIT-graduate Shivam Sharma to design its vehicles. He earlier worked with Hero MotoCorp Ltd. for 10 years and was behind the design of two of its bestsellers—iSmart 110 and Passion Pro.

“It was an exciting process: designing our first EV and experimenting with entirely different dynamics. Apart from the technological prowess of the product, the stance and riding position make it a perfect everyday commute,” Sharma, chief designer at Revolt, said. “It took us six months, three different directions and seven mock-ups to finally arrive at the design you will see coming alive soon.”

Revolt, headquartered in Gurgaon, has a manufacturing facility in Manesar, Haryana. Sharma is said to have invested Rs 400-500 crore in the venture.

India’s Startup Vision: The Next Five Years

The Ministry of Commerce proposed various measures including tax incentives and setting up another fund to promote startups in the country over the next five years.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade targets to help in setting up 50,000 new startups in India in five years, according to its Startup India Vision 2024 document. It also aims to create 20 lakh direct and indirect jobs.

Here are some of its key suggestions:

  • Setting up 500 new incubators and accelerators.
  • Deploying the entire corpus of Rs 10,000-crore fund of funds.
  • Setting up a Rs 1,000-crore fund for technology startups.
  • Providing Rs 1,000 crore of seed funding.
  • Operationalising seven research parks by 2024.
  • Reducing compliance burden and setting up regulatory sandbox for fintech startups.
  • Tax incentives for investments in startups.
  • Exemption of angel tax on all investments by alternate investment funds.

The DPIIT wants to strengthen the complete ecosystem for startups and these measures would help in doing that, an official told PTI. It will be presented to the new government for their consideration, the official said.

Also read: Deal Street: Binny Bansal Makes Fifth Investment In A Startup After Quitting Flipkart