Koop Technologies, Insurance Technology (or FinTech)
Job Title: Co-Founder & CEO
Q: How did you get where you are today?
A: I started my professional career in banking in New York. Being on Wall Street was a dream throughout the university. When I landed there, I started developing an analytical skillset that would end up serving me well for starting a company – an ability to break down big, complex operations into many different inter-connected parts through a financial model. First, it helped me develop a particular way of how to think about building companies. Second, an ability to build complex financial models that would result in simple, applicable output was acquired through thousands of hours of practice. Both of those things went into starting Koop Technologies, an insurance technology company that I started with my co-founders in 2020.
I met my co-founders here in Pittsburgh, where Koop is headquartered today. Some I met at the University of Pittsburgh, my alma mater, and some later on, but we all got together thanks to Pittsburgh in some way. We bonded quickly: all sharing an immigrant story, we had a knack for entrepreneurship, which we started to nurture from the early days at the university. Fast-forward to 2020, we stayed closely in touch, and when the right idea came along at the right time, we decided to pursue it full-time. Today, KoopTechnologies is a 10-person startup building products at the forefront of both the autonomous vehicle and insurance industries. My skillset and my incredible teammates are the reasons I got here.
More about Koop…
Koop is an insurance company for self-driving vehicles. Imagine a driverless car getting into an accident - Koop would pay for that accident if the driverless car caused it. We built a lot of great technology and capabilities for that.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: Starting around 8am, the work begins. Its usually a 12–13-hour work day, so I get free by 8-9pm (with lunch and occasional short breaks throughout the day, of course). It’s gym time at 9pm, then maybe catch up on some personal things, and back at it again in the morning!
Q: How do you get motivated when feeling unmotivated?
A: What’s unmotivated? ;)
Q: Tell me about a challenge you had to overcome and how that process has gotten you to where you’re at today?
A: One challenge that I vividly remember overcoming is a communication barrier. When I immigrated to the U.S.to pursue higher education, I quickly learned that an ability to communicate clearly and an ability to socialize in different groups of people would be a foundation for any kind of endeavor in the future. As a non-native speaker, developing that native ability to communicate not just well but incredibly well was a hill to climb. At the same time, I loaded myself with 20-24 credits per semester to finish school earlier, so balancing academic and social life was also on the table.
There is a very good saying that I learned as a kid: as an entrepreneur, you throw yourself off the cliff and build the wings on your way down. That’s exactly how I approached building my communication skills. In my first semester at the University of Pittsburgh, I joined a professional business fraternity with the goal of building communication skills through social experiences that the organization provided. One “off-the-cliff” moment was when I was invited for an interview during the pledging process that looked to be 1:1 but turned out to be a surprise interview in front of the whole organization (more than 100 people). The interviewees were expected to deliver an impromptu speech and handle questions on-the-fly. I still recall a paralyzing feeling of shock at that moment. In those 30 seconds that I had to gather myself before speaking, I probably delivered weeks (if not months) of progress had I otherwise was not put into such a situation. Sometimes, exposing yourself to extreme conditions can help you accelerate the progress needed towards a certain goal. While there were many more extreme situations after that, this one was one of the first such experiences I got.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?
A: Mostly reading and recently I got into cinematography.
Q: What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
A: 1) Things take longer than originally expected in insurance; 2) do not underestimate the value of great personal relationships; and 3) be persistent to open doors for yourself.
Q: Where do you see the future of your industry?
A: I think the future of insurance is in data applications and the infrastructure required to support those data applications. It’s a perfect industry to develop large-scale models with large datasets. You’ll see companies that develop tools for that and a myriad of such data applications across all the insurance lines in the next 10 years.
Q: What do you want people in the coworking community to know about Alloy 26?
A: Alloy 26 is the best place to start and run an early-stage company! It feels like a campus, with all the amenities needed and proximity to Downtown and Strip District. I’m happy with our choice to move here.
Q: Who/ what is your inspiration?
A: I’m very much inspired by the entrepreneurs who were able to build successful companies not just in one industry but in many. It means that there is a universal, generalist skillset and features of their character that allowed them to do that. I want to figure out what it is and do it myself.
I also get inspired by developing something totally new, not just something incrementally better. This is what we’re doing at Koop Technologies with insurance.
And on a more personal level, I draw a lot of inspiration from family and friends, especially from certain situations that they successfully dealt with.