Leaving a corporate finance job to co-found his own company, Stan Nazarenko took a chance he’s starting to see pay off.
Launching Dublin-based Piprate in 2017, Nazarenko’s blockchain-based insurance data platform could be on the cutting edge of a big change for his industry. Blockchain uses decentralised networks of computers to record transactions, making falsification and hacking much more difficult.
Others are taking notice.
Nazarenko used his role to help gather Ireland’s insurance technology companies together with meet-ups at Dogpatch Labs. Last month, InsurTech Ireland officially became part of the recently-formed Global InsurTech Alliance.
In an interview with Dublin Globe, Nazarenko talks about his thoughts on taking Piprate through an ICO as well as the future of blockchain in the insurance industry.
Dublin Globe: What makes Piprate work better than what’s out there?
Stan Nazarenko: We are developing a blockchain-enabled platform to help insurance companies change the ways they manage and share the data. To do that, we use a recently novel concept of data wallets. We give every client, be it a person or a company, a data wallet. It is literally a list of all the data artefacts they either own or have shared with someone. That gives you full control over your personal data and the company data. It gives you an easy way to comply with current and upcoming regulations. [With the data wallet], it becomes trivial if someone asks you, “what [data] have you got?”
DG: You came from being the “tech guy” at large banks. What do you bring from that experience into this role?
SN: I always was working with the business to solve their problems. My speciality has been both tech and business. I am a chartered financial analyst. That gives me comfort when talking with the businesses: what they need and how they want it done.
As to your point about how I feel about this role: I feel great. I can take my dream and my specific views about how data should be managed in the future and actually make it a reality. Having deep tech background really helps, because it’s not just about seeing the problem and not being sure what to do. I can see immediately what opportunities are out there and how to connect the novel technologies like blockchain and so on with real problems.
DG: How is blockchain making the big change for the insurance field?
SN: We started looking at blockchain when I was still in the corporate environment three or four years ago. Our initial assessment [then] was that it was a very promising technology, there were a lot of opportunities to use it in the insurance industry, but it was too early. Yet, when we kept watching these fields, we realised after just one year, the pace of change has accelerated so much. If we don’t start doing it right now, we will be late. This was one of the big drivers for me to think about my own business.
Speaking of the role of blockchain in the insurance industry and why we use blockchain, the answer is simple. Insurance is an industry based on trust. Historically, it is very hard to establish trust between different players in the insurance industry, because inherently they [couldn’t trust] financial competitors with too much access to their data. They will not want to work with you without [a trusting] relationship. Blockchain changes it all. It allows us to build a platform where even we, the creators of the platform, don’t have access to anyone’s data. Therefore, it’s bulletproof that we won’t be leaking any information to [the insurance companies’] competitors. Any of our clients won’t be able to see other people’s data.
DG: Where do you see blockchain going in the insurance space?
SN: The answer is the same for many industries. You will really see the impact of blockchain when we stop talking about it. I think the technology will become as ubiquitous as single databases. I think this is happening rather fast. We are seeing new product go to the market. We are seeing insurance products which only exist due to the blockchain technology being available. Once we reach a critical mass of these new developments, the rest of the market will follow.
DG: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since starting Piprate?
SN: There’s a massive difference from being a corporate guy and being a tech startup. We learned how important it is to establish the right levels of relationships are in the ecosystem. Well also learned how important it is to have access to the right people who can provide advice and listen. At the same time, we were really amazed at the amount of support we’re getting both from this new network and our existing networks. From the very beginning we were able to get an hour, two hour meetings with some very senior people. They were willing to talk with us about what we’re doing and give very honest and useful advice.
DG: What can we expect from Piprate in the coming year?
SN: At the moment, we’re engaged in a commercial proof of concept with a number of big international players. I can’t talk too much about it now, but once we finish this process in three months, I expect to give you some interesting news which validates the power of our platform, what change we can do, and what cost savings we can achieve for our clients. After that, the next phase is to grow the number of clients. The power of our platform comes with the network of insurance companies working together and exchanging data.
DG: Are you considering an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) or coin/token-based system?
SN: Technically, the nature of our platform suits the ICO model perfectly. In the short term, we do not have plans to do an ICO, but we are watching this space closely. It’s obviously an opportunity to raise funding. For now, we believe the biggest value we can get is from solving the actual business problem and write it in the model. Then we can review and see.
DG: Are you excited with where Piprate’s going?
SN: Big time. It’s very good to finally see part of our dream become a reality. When we started, typically as it is with startups, we started with a big dream. Then we started narrowing down to this razor-thin focus, which we can turn into a business model. We were able to get an initial set of clients and grow. We have a much larger vision about what we can do.
Still, the big dream is there.