With a team of less than a dozen today, The Hartford’s Small Business Innovation Lab in New York City may not seem fully staffed to bring about the changes its leader envisions for the customers his lab will serve.

Executive Summary

Building an innovation lab to develop entirely new products for small businesses depends on human-centered design approaches, according to Christopher Lowell, the new leader of The Hartford's Small Business Innovation Lab. In an interview with Guest Editor Michael Fitzgerald, Lowell explains why empathy with small business owners and a New York City location are among the ingredients he believes will push the lab beyond incremental product improvements to totally new ways of thinking about risks that aren't insured today.

But Christopher Lowell, who has only been leading the Small Business Innovation Lab for the carrier since September of last year, says the work has already begun.

“We’re not waiting to hire those few folks over the next couple of months before we start working. We started immediately in fourth-quarter 2018,” he said, explaining that partnerships with other digital product design firms are moving the lab out of the gate.

“Our goal over the next few months is to stand up a core team…But then, going forward, it is to expand and grow as fast as our successes say that we should,” he told Celent Analyst Michael Fitzgerald.

During a recent conversation, excerpted below, Lowell talked about what success means and how the Small Business Innovation Lab will get there, explaining that the growing team will focus its efforts on human-centered design to bring customer engagement up to levels unheard of in the insurance space today.

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