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Electronic Chat with Jimmy Padia, Founder and CEO, Floatbot

Jimmy Padia is CEO and Founder of Floatbot, an insurtech specializing in hybrid conversational AI voicebot and chatbot solution focused on customer experience and increasing sales digitally in the small commercial lines segment. He is a tech entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience spanning more than 20 countries in five continents. Floatbot has been selected as one of the 20 insurtechs showcased in this year’s Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) program.

When was the company founded and what was the impetus for starting it?

In 2017 I began hearing from our large bank and insurance company customers that they wanted to automate their customer support processes and the need for a product-focused company. After doing research, we realized it’s a global problem. That’s when we shifted our focus on product through Floatbot and formally launched at the end of 2017.

In India, where we started the business, captive agents are a huge component in insurance sales. For instance, the largest life insurance company in India has between 500,000 to over a million captive agents. Currently, sales of life/health/P&C insurance through digital channels is less than 5%, and only after a lot of hand-holding by tele-agents. Ninety-five percent of sales is managed through offline channels such as agents/advisors or branches. To buy term life insurance online, the customer has to fill out a long and complex web form, and most prospects drop off.

Although we were focused on carriers, they told us they wanted something similar for their agents as well. When COVID hit early this year, there was even more of a need for conversational bots to assist agents and close sales. We started getting deeper into use case and upscaled the Floatbot platform, empowering agents with digital tools to assist them in closing sales digitally and remotely, for agent recruitment, and for telemarketing and sales -- all using conversational voice bots and chatbots.

So far, 70% of Floatbot’s business is primarily in APAC (Asian-Pacific) countries, including the Middle East, Africa and Canada, and about 30% in India. We currently have more than 30 employees and are focused on growing the business in the U.S., with full-time employees hired in U.S.-based office by early 2021.

Please tell us a little about your personal background.

In 2005 I graduated as an engineer from VJTI, Mumbai, one of the top colleges in India. Shortly thereafter I started working at General Electric, and within six months was placed in the company’s IT leadership program. I worked in India, China, Latin America, and the U.S. for several years, leading projects in intelligence and digital marketing across different functions.

I left and started a services company in 2011. It did well, growing 100% year to year, but there was always a part of me that wanted to work on a product that could be scaled globally. In 2017 I finally started hearing from multiple clients, realizing that a virtual assistant was a universal need, I closed the service company and started working on Floatbot.

What is your philosophy about how insurtech fits into the bigger insurance marketplace picture?

I think you can categorize insurtech into two segments: one half of insurtechs are replacing traditional insurance carriers, while the other set is helping them by transforming them. Floatbot belongs to the second category -- a B2B insurtech that helps traditional insurers, empowering them to compete with insurtechs like Lemonade and others.

How specifically does Floatbot work with insurers?

Floatbot is a conversational AI suite for insurers.

We are working with large insurers in India and APAC to digitally increase sales of insurance.

In this COVID-19 situation, we can enable insurance companies to increase digital insurance sales and automate support and renewal through robo-advisors.

Floatbot has implemented a hybrid conversational bot (chatbot and voicebot) available across Web, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Contact Center that would help customers complete the application in conversational form. Floatbot has successfully managed to increase digital sales by 150%. Conversational bot also acts as a robo advisor/consultant to answer application-related or general queries of customers any time during application process and then encouraging the customer to resume the application exactly from where he/she had left.

We’re also working on outbound tele-marketing use cases where insurers or agencies receive leads from several sources and tele-marketer agents start calling them. The problem is only 0.25% of calls convert to sales. That is out of every 1,000 calls, only 2.5 calls close, and the other 998 calls are wasted. That’s extremely unproductive.

Floatbot’s voicebot can make outbound calls to interact with the customer and share product information. If the customer is interested, the bot will either transfer the call or schedule an appointment with an agent. This means the agent will only interact with 50 qualified leads instead of thousands of unqualified leads.

We can reduce the customer acquisition cost through outbound tele-marketing calls by 80% and increase the agent’s productivity by 90%.

Do you have a stronger focus on any specific line of business?

Our business focus is on small commercial P&C, life insurance, including savings and retirement plans. At this point, large commercial business is too complex for bots to handle.

Tell us a little about your involvement with this year’s virtual GIA accelerator program and how that will work.

Last week we participated in a rehearsal demo event, and this week we are meeting with several insurers in the capacity of either POC or as investors. GIA has 12 partners/sponsors/investors, and Floatbot was selected to be part of the insurtech week. We’ll be joining insurtechs from the U.S., Germany, Australia, and the UK, so it’s very exciting.

This week we’ll also have two private days interacting with insurers, and one public day interacting and presenting to global audience.

The application process began in July, and then GIA has an internal selection process. The last step is for each insurtech candidate to do a presentation to all 12 of GIA’s carrier partners, including Allstate, EMC, State Farm, and others. The carriers score each insurtech and select which will be a part of the program.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?

We hired a consultant in Boston to advise us on penetrating the U.S. market. We want to be active in the startup ecosystem in Hartford and other locations like New York and Silicon Valley. While COVID has delayed us from setting up offices there, we plan to have a team of at least five employees, primarily presales and sales, in one of those locations by 2021.



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