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SA insurtech start-up Pineapple scores big in US

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 29 Oct 2019

South Africa’s peer-to-peer insurance platform, Pineapple, has scooped an investment prize of $1.5 million (R22.5 million) at a US start-up challenge.

VentureClash is a global start-up challenge for early-stage digital health and fintech companies. In addition to company investments, the winners benefit from introductions to a network of potential customers, investors, mentors and talent.

The South African insurtech firm took pole position from a pool of nine other finalists in Connecticut, and collected the biggest investment.

The 10 companies representing four countries participated in the finals pitch event, held at Yale University. VentureClash judges awarded investments to eight of the finalists, all of which will also receive access to mentoring and customer introductions to help them grow and succeed.

The top investment award of $1.5 million went to Pineapple. The company previously won the $25 000 VentureClash innovation prize.

Launched three years ago, the peer-to-peer insurance provider allows individuals to insure their possessions simply by snapping a picture and uploading it to the mobile application.

The Pineapple founding team of Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden got together as part of an innovation competition run by Hannover Re, during 2016, in an effort to find disruptive models for the reinsurance and insurance space.

The company now has offices in SA and the US.

Smith says: “We were excited just to be included in the 10. But we had watched the other pitches and they are all truly amazing companies.

“We are extremely humbled by this award and too grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way. From the Hannover Re Group in SA, Compass Insure, ASISA ESD Fund managed by Edge Growth, as well as the people of Connecticut who have received us with open arms, especially the teams at StartupBootCamp, Travelers, CTi and Nassau Re, to name a few.”

The latest win will likely bolster Pineapple’s local domination, as peer-to-peer insurance has already disrupted the insurance industry in South Africa through its ability to offer better premiums and more personalised policies.

Pineapple CTO Ngulube adds: “We are excited about what this means for the future of software development in South Africa. It shows that we can compete on a global stage and that there is a bright future for the South African technology industry.”