Vincenzo Macaione is the Founder of Wopta Assicurazioni, the first Italian phygital insurtech established to protect artisans, businesses and professionals from everyday risks.
Vincenzo started his career in finance and banking, working for leading Italian institutions such as Allianz Bank, Banca Mediolanum and UniCredit and serving as Director at Amaranto Investment Sim S.p.A., La Centrale Finanziaria Generale S.p.A. and JC Flowers Fund.
Vincenzo is the Co-Founder and shareholder of Main Capital SGR S.p.A. and the Founder and CEO of WellDone Global Advisor. He is also a Member of the United States and Italy Council.
Vincenzo holds a Degree in Economics and Finance at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.
In your professional career, you have been the promoter of several initiatives in Italy in the banking and financial sector. Your latest initiative, Wopta Assicurazioni, is in the insurance field. What opportunity did you see in the market? What prompted you to establish Wopta?
Vincenzo: My professional career can be divided into two parts, the first supporting the second.
The first part of my career consisted of managing large assets of Italian and non-Italian industrial families and working for large international institutions in Italy and New York.
Later, thanks also to the network of private and institutional relationships I developed, I moved from manager to entrepreneur, participating in creating companies supervised by Italian authorities, in particular Bank of Italy and CONSOB. So I founded a financial consulting company, and then I specialised in Distressed Assets , both credit and real estate, always trying to bring innovations to the related industries. It was a satisfying journey, also thanks to the realisation of exits.
Unlike all previous business ventures, Wopta is the first actual project to detach from the institutional world, having a strong focus on SMEs and retail.
The pandemic period made me reflect and notice, by studying market curves, that the world is changing. Just as fintech has already disrupted the traditional financial world of factoring and lending, I believe that insurtech will disrupt the Italian insurance market in the coming years. I was particularly struck by two Italian cases, Prima Assicurazioni and Facile.it. Nevertheless, I think there is room for other players, and it is there that I saw a market opportunity to pursue.
So, Wopta Assicurazioni, the first Italian phygital insurtech established to protect artisans, businesses and professionals from everyday risks. Why “phygital”? Can you tell us more about the business model of the company?
Vincenzo: Wopta Assicurazioni is an Italian phygital insurtech that, thanks to an innovative proprietary technology platform and a network of specialised agents throughout the country, stands by the side of artisans, entrepreneurs and professionals to offer them the proper protection. “We protect who you are” is the claim that intends to propose customised and concrete solutions to bring the real economy closer to the insurance offer.
Wopta is the first MGA (Managing General Agent) InsurTech in Italy dedicated to businesses, artisans and professionals. An MGA is authorized by IVASS as an Insurance Intermediary registered in section A of the RUI list. MGA signs binding agreements with insurance companies to create new products under the MGA brand and manage insurance policies within a defined asset class and agreed guidelines. In other words, insurance companies create products distributed under the MGA’s brand name. The insurance companies hold the insurance risks. The MGA only holds the distribution risk, digital or physical.
By studying the market, we tried to identify a target that would allow portfolio capacity and a grip on an unsaturated market. SMEs, artisans and professionals are a large target but more challenging to penetrate, especially online.
That is why we are “phygital”; the online channel is supported by agents active in the pre-sales but especially post-sales activities. We realised that online alone hardly works in Italy at the moment. That is why it is also important to have a network of Wopta agents who use our technology.
Based on Wopta’s offer and the first multi-risk policies (“Wopta per te – Artisans & Enterprises” and “Wopta per te – Person”), customers have a concrete value proposition in line with the current real economy context.
In addition to the possibility of paying the policy monthly, two distinctive innovations start a revolution in the Italian insurance sector.
First, in the event of a claim, the client will have the renewal of the policy free of charge, and, should she/he be unable to work due to injury or illness, she/he will be reimbursed the premium paid for the period of abstention from work.
Secondly, in the event of a claim, according to specific clauses and facts and above certain thresholds of value where the artisan or business may have a significant economic loss, Wopta will give the customer a policy renewal free of charge the following year.
Wopta recently announced a pre-seed investment round, with € 3 million raised in just five months. What are the development plans of Wopta for the near future?
Vincenzo: Yes, we announced a pre-seed investment round of € 3 million in June, the largest ever in the sector in Italy. The company’s governance is already structured for rapid and conscious development. Besides myself and the frontline management – my co-founders – Wopta’s shareholders are: CNA (Confederazione Nazionale dell’Artigianato e della Piccola e Media Impresa), which invested with the vehicle Aurica srl, Key Capital, a Venture Capital investment company, Cordifin spa (Cordioli family) and a pool of Italian Business Angels and Club Deals.
Today, we are grounding the technology, the sales network, and our first iconic products, “Wopta per te – Artisans & Enterprises” and “Wopta per te – Person”.
We are working on creating a one-firm sales network of over 150 people by May 2023, who will be able to manage the entire Italian territory, present products and give after-sales support. And thanks to the participation of CNA, we are working on pilot projects throughout Italy.
Fire, theft, cyber-attacks, business interruption, injury or illness of the entrepreneur or his collaborators, and damage caused to clients or third parties in the performance of work are just some of the risks that Wopta will cover, in addition to providing dedicated insurance for those who necessarily need to subscribe professional indemnity insurance, such as doctors or lawyers.
What are the main challenges you experienced in creating Wopta? Given your entrepreneurial experience creating new businesses, what would you suggest to founders?
Vincenzo: I believe that the most complex challenge was to put together the management team, i.e. to find professionals with significant experience in the insurance industry but able to cope with a change of mindset from large international companies to an Italian startup beginning from scratch.
I am satisfied because we have selected people for the top management team with great experience and the right approach. In addition, we have started the selection of the second management line.
To create a successful project, I believe it is crucial to preside over all areas of development from the very beginning, not just those in which you are most confident, leaving other areas for later. Therefore, from day one, one should have praesidium over all areas such as marketing, technology, management, data, product, value proposition, finance, etc.
One last question. What is your vision for the insurtech industry?
Vincenzo: The European insurtech market is undergoing consolidation. There are very developed markets such as France, Germany and the UK that are very consolidated, with unicorns and players – MGAs and brokers – entering foreign markets.
The Italian market, on the contrary, is very premature. There are brokers, marketplaces and companies offering technological services, but few digital MGAs and players provide innovative insurance products. So there is still little competition and, I firmly believe, a lot of potential.
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For more info on Wopta Assicurazioni, visit: https://www.wopta.it/it/