In a recent interview, David Azar, C0-Founder of Nouga and Outsmart Labs, sat down with BFM Business to discuss the story, inception and mission of the company. Click here to watch the full interview.
BFM Business: Hi David! Tell us a little bit about Outsmart Labs.
David Azar: Outsmart Labs is a full service digital agency based out of Miami and Paris. We help our customers refine and develop their digital strategies in order to increase their visibility, traffic and sales. Our goal is to make sure we’re utilizing the most effective strategies and tools to ensure we’re meeting our clients’ specific demands and needs.
BFM Business: Are you primarily focused on French companies? Do you help these French business get a foothold in the American market?
DA: Although we work with both French and American companies, we do specialize in businesses that have international strategies and are trying to establish or develop their presence within the United States, Europe or South America. Examples of these kinds of clients include brands within the LVMH group, major international brands and large insurance companies.
BFM Business: I’d like to talk a little more about insurance since it’s an industry you know well, as you’ve created a startup incubator for it within Outsmart Labs. Can you tell us a little more about that?
DA: We’ve actually been working with insurance companies for over 5 years, helping them with their digital strategy. The experience of working so closely with these companies gave us real insight and expertise on how digital technology operates within the insurance industry, allowing us to develop a clear understanding of how we could leverage digital media to help our insurance clients get their message out and have it resonate with their audience. We noticed that brokers and agencies alike struggled in interacting with their customers online, and customers themselves were having difficulty choosing which insurance products were best for them and their needs. Based on these observations, we’ve created a startup incubator within the past year focused on the insurance sector, within which we’ve launched Nouga.
Based on these observations, we decided to take matters into our own hands and built an ecosystem dedicated to helping all parties involved in the insurance process communicate with one another: consumers, insurance brokers and insurance companies. It is within this ecosystem that Nouga was born.
BFM Business: What is Nouga?
DA: Nouga is an online insurance platform where we allow policyholders to simplify the insurance process. We offer full service digital insurance for those who wish to secure a policy in just several clicks. We also offer customers a dedicated advisor should they wish to receive any guidance or assistance while using Nouga and are not quite ready to go 100% digital.
BFM Business: Is this the only technology of its kind on the market?
DA: Today, in France some insurance companies offer their own insurance policies online. However, rather than having to choose from the policies of a single insurance company, Nouga will offer you the best insurance policies across a variety of companies in order to allow the user to choose the best policy out there for their needs with the ease of using one platform and same advisor throughout.
BFM Business: How does operating in the United States benefit you?
DA: One of the advantages of being partly located in the US is that we get to see what is happening before it happens in France, as technological trends generally develop 2 to 3 years ahead of what is being done in France. In France today, insurance companies are not sufficiently developed technologically in order to allow third parties platforms such as Nouga to function the way we’d like in order to price, subscribe, and manage insurance contracts entirely online without human intervention. However thanks to our partners, we have managed to co-create and develop technologies that make it possible for customers to carry out all these actions online and in an easy and totally transparent way.
BFM Business: So Nouga is 100% French?
DA: Indeed Nouga is 100% French due to our many years of experience in the industry. The idea mainly came from the fact that insurance companies don’t necessarily know how to make the most of what digital has to offer in order to communicate and interact with policyholders, despite a high demand for such. As an entrepreneur, I was looking for a new health insurance contract for myself as well as my employees, and having no clear or fast solution, decided to work with my associates to take on this ambitious but fascinating project which is finally taking shape.
BFM Business: Is it possible to take out an insurance policy with Nouga now?
DA: Yes, it is currently possible to join Nouga. Today, Nouga is a traditional broker. That is to say that you can get in touch with us and our designated advisors in order to help you find an insurance contract that fits your needs. We have a dedicated team of insurance experts in Paris who work to answer our clients’ questions and guide them to find the most appropriate solutions for their specific needs. By the third quarter of 2018, we plan to have gradually launched several types of insurance entirely online (health, pet, motorcycle, car), with the option to switch to a dedicated personal Nouga advisor at any time.
BFM Business: How did you end up in Miami?
DA: I came to Miami after graduating highschool. I really wanted to learn English while learning about a new culture. So I came here to study at the University of Miami, and being completely passionate about digital and the Internet from a young age, I naturally got myself oriented within the sector and dove in creating my digital agency 5 years ago, initially in Miami and then in Paris.
BFM Business: What exactly is the environment in Miami? How does it compare to New York City and Silicon Valley?
DA: I’ve actually seen Miami change exponentially over the past few years in terms of tech. Five years ago, there were very few qualified players in the market here. I think that has certainly helped us differentiate ourselves and allowed Outsmart Labs to quickly establish ourselves in the field. Miami is a city that’s developing very fast on all fronts. There are a lot of tech initiatives taking root down here. I also think that its proximity to South America and Europe, in addition to being in the same time zone as New York City, allows us to work effectively with international companies by serving as an anchor for these businesses within three markets. Having one foot in each country allows us to transfer our growing knowledge and propose new solutions for consumers.
BFM Business: And the weather must play a role too.
DA: It’s definitely a different kind of quality of life…It’s very nice to live in a climate so conducive to work. For my part I live between Paris and Miami so I have much less of a need for vacations in Miami than I do in Paris, in the sense that every moment spent outside of the office can really refresh the spirit and keep me focused on what we need to do and do it much more productively.
BFM Business: Okay we accept you’ve sold us…
DA: But I love Paris, and there are definitely aspects of French life that you will never find in Miami.
BFM Business: What are the next steps for you?
DA: Continue to develop the companies within our insurance ecosystem that we’ve created within our incubator (Nouga, MesLeads and Mon Agent d’Assurances). The idea is to continue helping the consumer find the best insurance products out there. Additionally, we’re also working to help insurance agents find more online leads through technology combing state-of-the-art tech with human expertise: MesLeads. So in short, we’ll continue to work on our ecosystem, develop it and make it grow in order to allow both the insured and the insurer to talk to each other in order to cover their life or business with confidence.