At 40 years old, Rajesh Krishnan sat in a Baltimore intensive care unit, recovering from a brain aneurism and a stroke. His solution-oriented mind had driven him to academic and insurance industry success. But as he recovered, one thought returned repeatedly.
“All life is a gift,” he said recently while remembering the experience. “Everything that we have, every second, every day we have, is a gift given to us. And we need to use that for the betterment of people around you. The environment you are in, the country you are in, and the world we live in.”
Krishnan now sees every day as a second chance. In 2021, he co-founded InsurAware alongside Patrick Bowen. The software company positions itself as “the first InsurTech solution to complete the value chain from lead generation to enrollment.”
InsurAware uses artificial intelligence to identify who insurance agencies, carriers, and financial institutions should be contacting to sell their products. The company’s mission is to help insurance pros pinpoint potential customers and better reach their target audiences through digital marketing. The InsurTech operates primarily in the life insurance and annuity spaces.
“Seventy percent of the U.S. population is underinsured or uninsured,” Krishnan said. “[In] the richest country in the world, 70% do not have the protections. So, if something happens to the breadwinner, the family’s going to struggle to survive.”
Reflecting back to his days at Citi Group in the 1990s, Krishnan said looking for solutions comes naturally to him and that he has steadfastly believed in using technology to find the most efficient tools to help customers and clients.
In the late 1990s, Krishnan helped Citi Group create a platform aimed at speeding up the process of determining credit when consumers applied for credit cards. Then, in the early 2000s, Legal and General hired him to build data-driven underwriting engines.
“When I look back, I think what I know now … when I was in my 20s (and) 30s, ambition was the drive,” he reflected. “I wanted to become something. And I was willing to go through that big corporate rat race, to put it that way, to kind of reach the pinnacle of it. And I did reach there.”
After nearly two decades of running that race in the insurance industry, Krishnan launched InsurAware. Around that time, he earned his Master of Business Administration and doctorate in organizational change.
He was drawn to studying what makes change successful and what makes it unappealing and doomed to fail. His dissertation on the subject was one of the top 25 most viewed dissertations on ProQuest during the first six months of 2021.
“Helping change is something that has always been a passion of mine,” Krishnan said. “And technology, being a good tool, actually helps with that.”
Change has been a constant in Krishnan’s life. He grew up in Southern India during a time when the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority, an autonomous institution under the General Education Department, Government of Kerala, launched a literacy program. The program was set up in 1998 to coordinate literacy and continuing education activities and is currently fully funded by the Government of Kerala.
The initiative has been successful, with a report based on a National Statistical Office survey – Household Social Consumption: Education in India as part of 75th round of National Sample Survey – showing that Kerala achieved the highest literacy rate in the country at 96.2% literacy among ages seven years and above during the most recent years statistics are available from July 2017 to June 2018.
Witnessing that growth moved Krishnan.
“The way of living in that place has (become) so much better,” he reflected. “Which, in my mind, put that importance of education and having people understand those basic necessities.”
The idea for InsurAware came when Krishnan realized that data could identify how long someone is likely to live, but financial services sector data wasn’t being used to identify what interests consumers have and what kind of products they’re looking for.
“A lot of the startups that came in at that point were using Facebook (and) social media marketing and all that as a just broader fishnet,” Krishnan explained, “which is kind of making the cost of acquisition of new customers way, way, way too high.”
Krishnan said his company will continue to build new use cases for its data, and the company’s ultimate goal is to expand into the global market.
“Now, I’m getting conversations going on with a lot of other verticals,” Krishnan explained. “Medicare, long-term care and even banks [are] looking to get to [a] new customer base.”
He’s found a deeper sense of happiness during the past 10 years of his life, too. He said the enjoyment he feels every day is different than the enjoyment he felt decades ago.
“I’m doing it to help and make the things around me better,” Krishnan said, “which makes me happier and people around me happier.”