2021 marked the beginning of Ascend's operations with the launch of its insurance payments platform. In January of 2022, the company was able to get a credit commitment for $250 million thanks in large part to the success of its business plan, which allowed the company raise $30 million in Series A financing. Ascend has increased its market reach and acquired a large number of new customers thanks to the newly acquired financing.
According to Andrew Winn, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Ascend, "one of the most significant shifts is that we've transitioned from what we could term Main Street small insurance agencies… to two different sorts of consumers" (pictured).
According to Winn, far larger insurance firms that are among the 100 largest agencies and brokerages in the United States have signed on as new customers. Additionally, the company is now selling its products to transporters and wholesalers, who, in place of the agents, collect payments from customers. In addition, Ascend has increased its personnel to a total of twenty members and is implementing an integration strategy with a longer-term perspective.
According Winn, the slump in technology investment has not had a direct impact on Ascend because the company has been able to acquire considerable money and has not been had to raise fresh finance.
He stated, "We have years upon years of capital, and we are getting more efficient every month."
However, in order to adapt to the shifting conditions of the investing industry, the corporation has made several strategic shifts.
We have taken appropriate action in response to the shifting winds that we have seen. Winn elaborated, "We slowed down hiring and have been pretty thoughtful about how much our costs will increase as we grow." "We work hard to drive efficiency in our expansion, which is something that otherwise we may not have done,"
The current market conditions are "a good reminder to be smart with the funds we have," according to Winn, who stated that the corporation would make efforts toward efficiency and sensible expenditure notwithstanding.
Integrations equals strategy.
In most cases, agencies rely on agency management systems, while carriers use systems for policy administration. According to Winn, Ascend is going after both possible bases of customers by integrating into both kinds of systems.
According to Winn, "We've spent a significant amount of effort working to interface with various existing software [systems] that are available off the shelf." "We have a handful of things in addition to [many] specialized customised integrations on a one-off customer basis," the representative continued.
According to Winn, the long-term objective in this context is to "productize" as many integrations as possible so that they can be sold off the shelf. According to Winn, this will make the process significantly less difficult.
If you choose to work with the XYZ software business, we already have the necessary building blocks, and we can usually configure your process with only a few minor adjustments. According to Winn, "we wouldn't want to be forcing [a client] adapt to the way that we've developed it because every business has its own unique characteristics." However, the overwhelming majority of the structural components are already in place.
If such is not the case, and a client has a system that was built specifically for them, then Ascend will rely on open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for assistance in constructing more complex connections.
"We have entirely open APIs – very strong API documentation – sandboxes where we can construct this connectivity together," said Winn. "We are able to build this integration together."
Tools already in existence, very simple integrations
Ascend is committed to the concept that its agent and carrier clients should integrate the company's software into their already-in-place operational systems in order to have the least amount of possible process disruption. Both should be able to operate together without much difficulty according to the plan.
"We want them to utilize the digital resources that they know how to use… so that they can realize tech is not an enabler," said Winn. "We want them to use the existing tools that they know how to use." It is essential for them to limit the amount of effort required while using a tool like Ascend so that they may concentrate on their [insurance] business. This is the reason why we integrate with their systems."
According on whether a client selects a "off-the-shelf" or "custom" option, the amount of time required for integration can range anywhere from just a few minutes to at least a few weeks.
"If you utilize one of the off-the-shelf connectors – which we have with [agency management systems], you can get started and actually start using the integration in as little as ten minutes," Winn noted. "This is because the integration is already built for you."
Custom integrations can require significantly more time.
According to Winn, "we've had some clients perform their own custom integrations in as short as a week," but more often, the process takes between six and eight weeks.
aims for the coming year
According to Winn, integrations are the most important component of Ascend's goal of "meeting our clients where they are" heading through the end of 2022.
Ascend's primary area of focus has been on agency control systems; however, the company is now pushing further into the integration of policy administration systems that carriers employ.
Ascend also intends to develop its agency management system integrations even further, with the goal of integrating with a significant number of off-the-shelf choices by the end of the year.