WNPR

Pitch Competition Hopes To Net New Companies For Connecticut

Oct 23, 2017

A new insurance technology company will be moving from the Netherlands to Connecticut after winning an international pitch competition. 

More that 300 people gathered at the Yale School of Management for the second annual VentureClash event.

The Shark Tank-like pitch competition is the brainchild of Connecticut Innovations, the state’s technology investment agency.

This year it pit start-up companies from Israel, Canada, and all over Europe against each other.

At stake was a share of $5 million in prize money, and the prospect of starting a North American headquarters in Connecticut.

“It’s the immigrants, it’s the people who come from afar to realize their ambitions here -- those are the people who make the biggest impact,” said Matt McCooe, the CEO of Connecticut Innovations.

This year’s event attracted lots of attention from Connecticut’s big corporate names like Travelers, Sikorsky, Jackson Labs, and Webster Bank, all looking for innovative new ideas from the entrepreneurs.

Jeroen Morrenhof of FRISS
Credit Connecticut Innovations

And in fact the eventual winner, FRISS, sits right in the wheelhouse of one of Connecticut’s most iconic sectors.

“Insurance is actually a great industry, it allows companies and people to take risks they cannot bear themselves,” said FRISS CEO Jeroen Morrenhof during his pitch. “This whole relationship is based on trust. If you abuse this trust, it actually undermines the essence of insurance.”

FRISS, based in the Netherlands, uses big data analytics to detect insurance fraud.

While they’ve grown very fast in Europe, amassing 120 customers in several countries and $12 million in revenue, they’ve yet to make an impression in the U.S.

Morrenhof’s pitch earned his company $1.5 million in prize money and a $25,000 contract from his very first U.S. customer, The Hartford.

Morrenhof now says he’ll be moving his own family to Connecticut as FRISS establishes its North American presence in Connecticut.

It joins four companies that relocated as a result of last year’s competition.