Meet Leonhard-MacDonald Ventures – InsurTech team

As you all know, our InsurTech Accelarator Program just started and this is one of the teams!

We are interviewing Annette and Donald on their amazing Startup:

Who are the team members?

Dr. Annette Leonhard-MacDonald, CEO

PhD in Computer Science ( University of Edinburgh 2011). Mentor for Research Commercialization and Technology at Fraunhofer Venture & Google Launchpad.

Dr. Donald Leonhard-MacDonald, CTO

PhD in Computer Science (University of Paisley 2001). 15 years of research & industry experience in High Performance Computing and Machine Learning. Innovator of the Year 2011 with Bioinformatics Project OMERO.

What does your Startup up do exactly?

AdaEngine is our Big Data SaaS solution that enables our customers to leverage all their data to make faster, more informed decisions to maximize returns and minimize risks.

Insurance and investment professionals need to analyze enormous amounts of data while relying on Excel, a tool that has remained mostly unchanged from its introduction 30 years ago. AdaEngine turns Excel into a real-time big data analysis application.

How did you get the idea for your startup?

We originally had the idea when we spoke with colleagues in a previous company. When we first worked with them in the 90’s they had developed really complex models using Excel which allowed them to get interesting insights from their data. When we went back to see them a few years ago they were still using Excel but it had not kept up with their expectations about what they wanted to get from their data. We now have really powerful machine learning algorithms as will as real-time big data and visualisation technologies and yet Excel has barely changed.

We decided that we wanted to build a tool where people can make use of their domain expertise and Excel knowledge to build real-time big data and machine learning applications without needing to know how to code.

What has  been the hardest part of this project for now? 

Our company was founded in 2015 and we started the first pilot of our software with a global macro hedge fund in spring this year. Our background is computer science not insurance and our solution was originally targeted at investment professionals. The biggest challenge has been to learn as much as possible about the insurance industry, its needs and regulations to demonstrate the business value of our software to insurers.

How do you think your Startup will make a difference?

We allow our users to turn their existing Excel files and workflows into a powerful real-time big data application that allows complex calculations and creates transparency that makes it easy for our customers to comply with strict auditing requirements and the new data protection regulation coming into effect this year.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of the W1 Forward InsurTech program?

Our goal is to start the first software pilot projects in the insurance sector.

What’s your piece of advice for those thinking to immerse themselves into the InsurTech world with an idea?

Make sure to get a good understanding of the industry and its regulations. Also be prepared for long lead times if you’re in the B2B sector.

Enough about work. What’s your favourite spot in Munich and why?

The Keg Bar in Schwabing, because it reminds us of a good British pub and feels a bit like our old home.

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