Addenda is a UAE-based insurtech startup that is built on blockchain and uses distributed ledger technology (DLT) to streamline processes between insurance companies. They aim to remove inefficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the overall experience across the insurance industry’s value chain.

Cofounded by 2 brothers Walid and Karim Dib, the company has been establishing itself as an industry pioneer within the UAE insurance sector, with partnerships and collaborations with global insurance companies.

Cofounders of Addenda (from left to right): Harsh Ajmera, Walid Dib, Karim Dib)

The team has been part of our growing community of entrepreneurs since they took part in the 12th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum’s Arab Startup Competition, and coming out as 1st Runner Up in the Ideas Track. Moreover, Addenda team was also selected as one of the three winners of the first edition of ‘Hub71 MENA Growth Competition’.

Recently we’ve had the opportunity to sit with Walid Dib to discuss how blockchain will be the main driver of innovation for the global insurance industry, making it more transparent and trustworthy for every stakeholder.

What exactly is Addenda and what problem does it solve (pitch your startup to a 5-year-old child)

We built a blockchain that helps car insurance companies automatically collect money from each other whenever an accident happens.

How does Addenda make money?

We charge a small fixed fee per transaction from the insurance companies claiming money from other insurance companies.

What was your initial funding source when you started, and are you currently raising funds?

We were self-funded for a year by my brother and me, who almost went bankrupt in the process. Thankfully, that changed and we recently closed our six-figure seed funding round. We’re in conversation with a bank for a follow-up investment.

How does Addenda benefit the average customer?

Addenda benefits the customer in two ways: we’re working no helping you know exactly what the status of your car repair is, and we’re also automating the process for insurance companies in the back-end, which means lower overheads for them and lower premiums by how much % for you next year

What benefit does being in Abu Dhabi bring Addenda, especially after winning Hub71 MENA Growth Competition?

Most major insurers are based in Abu Dhabi. The insurance authority is also based in Abu Dhabi. Most importantly, though, is the fact that Hub71 seems to be becoming the region’s startup hub. The advantage of them subsidizing a lot of our costs significantly reduces our (already lean) overhead. It also helps that we'll be working out of WeWork along with so many other leading startups. Sharing the same office space with disruptive and forward-thinking entrepreneurs can be a humbling experience and creates a good ramp for us to learn from others' failures and challenges without having to go through them ourselves.

What difficulties are you facing on those fronts: market adoption, legal bureaucracies, technical and marketing?

The biggest challenge was the recruitment of skilled developers in disruptive tech is a problem plaguing all startups in the region. Building the blockchain was no easy task, and we almost failed to launch on a couple of occasions. Also, getting end-users from the insurance companies to use this blockchain platform once it was built required some serious change management, patience, and commitment from all sides. From a personal side, I haven't taken any leave since I started a year and a half ago. While that was difficult at first, I am now used to it. I wouldn't mind taking a long weekend maybe next year, but I'm in no rush. I actually enjoy this.

What makes Addenda unique?

Today, insurers are still either resolving recovery cases in-house (manually), or paying third party administration companies to (also manually) handle recovery of funds from other insurers. Insurers are literally printing 5,000+ papers per day and sending them via courier to their counterparties. We are the first InsurTech startup to consider moving insurer-to-insurer motor recovery onto a digital platform, let alone the blockchain.

The Addenda blockchain is live as of 16th October 2019. we've transacted more than 1.5 million AED on our blockchain between 8 companies in the past month.

Our goal is simple: become the integrator and communication platform for all insurance companies in the Middle East for everything from reconciling premiums to paying out claims. It's definitely an ambitious statement to make, but I am confident in our team's capabilities.

How did the ‘Arab Startup Competition’ experience benefit you personally, professionally, and in your startup?

It helped me polish my presentation skills. It also introduced me to a wider pool of entrepreneurs from the MENA region that I would not have met and learned from otherwise.

Where will Addenda be in 5 years?

We intend to dominate the value chain of motor insurance from accident to closure and archiving. We're also considering deploying more smart contracts for any inter-insurer reconciliation regardless of the line of business (motor, health, property, etc.). 5 years is a long time in startup years, but we hope that by then, Addenda is in all of the GCC, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Whether we pivot to a B2C angle remains to be seen.

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