By Marissa Carberry WG’17, Marketing Director for the 2016 Business Plan Competition
While at Wharton, Tom Austin and Zack Stiefler, both WG’15, founded Bungalow Insurance, an online platform that leverages data and design to improve the experience of sourcing renters’ insurance. Bungalow partners with insurance companies and distributes contracts directly to consumers, who, in turn, source insurance without having to meet with agents. In 2015, the founders won the Business Plan Competition’s $30,000 Perlman Grand Prize.
We checked in with Tom and Zack to see how things have been going since winning the Business Plan Competition.
It’s been almost a year since you won the Wharton Business Plan Competition. How has the company changed and grown since last April?
In short, it’s been a whirlwind! The BPC win gave us great momentum heading into the summer and we showed strong user growth for several months after that. This success helped us sign a major contract with a large insurance company this past fall that will allow us to reinvent our product in new and exciting ways. We moved to New York a couple months ago and are currently hiring developers and salespeople with an eye to a big product rollout this summer.
Was there any advice or feedback you received during the BPC that you implemented at Bungalow?
A lot of the feedback we received in the WBPC process was related to customer acquisition, with multiple judges pushing us to think deeply about how we could lower these costs. This ultimately led us to move towards an affiliate distribution model where we’ve had great traction.
Do you have any advice for this year’s semifinalists?
I would advise the semifinalists to really think about the feedback they get in the earlier rounds and to look for patterns in the judges concerns and questions. We worked hard to adjust our pitch and business plan to respond to the concerns that we were seeing repeatedly and I think this really paid off for us.
Finally, here’s a short video that captures just how excited Tom and Zack were to win the BPC last year: