How local insurtech start-up Pineapple became one of the greatest success stories of 2019

The traditional insurance industry has undergone many disruptions and changes over the past few years, and a range of local insurance technology innovations has made this sector one that has led the way in terms of the adoption of new technologies.

One such insurtech has become one of 2019’s greatest local start-up success stories, and looks to make even more waves in 2020.

A new business model with tech at its core

Pineapple was launched in 2018 after the company’s founders, Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden, developed their idea during an innovation competition run by Hannover-Re in 2016.

The Pineapple app lets clients snap a picture of the items they’d like to insure, with artificial intelligence technology used to identify said items, and set a premium accordingly. Funds from each client’s in-app wallet are used to settle claims made by other members of the Pineapple community. In this way, the company aims to create a transparent system where users know exactly how their premiums are used. Whatever is left over in a client’s in-app wallet can be withdrawn in cash.

This innovative approach to insurance has made Pineapple a hit amongst investors. The company won $1.5-million (approximately R22-million) – the biggest cash prize to be awarded to any African start-up in 2019 – in US-based Connecticut Innovations’ global venture challenge VentureClash in October last year, and the competition also led to discussions with a potential partner in the United States. This is in addition to the R5-million the company managed to acquire during a funding round earlier in 2019, and to the R5.2-million in seed funding Pineapple secured from Lireas Holdings in 2017.

Pineapple, a Google Launchpad company, is now developing a motor insurance product, expected to launch later this year. This adds to an extensive list of items that the company already covers, including portable devices, sports equipment, furniture, home appliances, musical instruments and even clothing and accessories.

Pineapple is a prime example of how technology-based innovations find applications in the real world, and other big names in the insurance industry are following this trend as well, with Old Mutual, Hollard and Guardrisk also investing in local start-ups looking to disrupt the industry.

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