Dobby - The operating system for modern American homes.
Starting with a leapfrog home maintenance product that won TechCrunch Top Pick in AI/ ML 2019 – Dobby is pioneering digitization & AI in the $16T residential property market, the largest asset class in the US. Dobby’s vision is “to become the operating system for American homes” by adding adjacent products and services including insurance.
Dobby creates a luxury experience for homeowners and increases their property value with an AI-first, fully digital, “get-stuff-done” app backed by an invite-only, high-quality service pro community.
At the helm of affairs at Dobby is Satadru Sengupta, Co-Founder & CEO of the company. Previously, as an industry GM, Satadru built the multi-million dollar insurance business at AI unicorn DataRobot. Satadru, an CSPA designee from Casualty Actuarial Society, was a data scientist at AIG, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Deloitte Insurance Practice.
Satadru is a staunch believer that communities at large should be the recipients of the wonderful outcomes technology can bring out. Excerpts from an interview:
Dobby- The Story Behind
The founding idea of Dobby (formerly, Halos) was to bring an asset-first approach to home insurance. “We wanted to build a home insurance product that not only pays the homeowner after an incident – but actually helps them protect their largest asset through regular and timely maintenance, upkeep, and upgrades.”
Noted Satadru that he was surprised to see that the current $300 billion home maintenance incumbents were using a decade-old playbook and competed as advertising websites. “There is no digital product and there is no ‘get-job-done’ software available for homeowners or service providers.” He added “We decided to build an AI-first, fully digital home maintenance solution before we add insurance and other products for homeowners.”
Technology Transforming Insurance
The insurance industry is one of the oldest consumers of analytics, data science, and AI/ ML. “In recent times, we have started to see more widespread applications of analytics and AI/ ML in insurance – marketing and distribution, underwriting automation, claims automation, fraud detection, loss prevention to name a few. This trend will continue and will touch every single insurance function.”
Satadru is bullish about the applications of blockchain in the insurance industry: “Historically, insurance has been a contract between two parties: an insurance company and the policyholder. These days, insurers are working with different ecosystems to drive more value-added services to the consumers. These multi-party transactions create a natural use case for blockchain.”
Satadru noted that the world has been experiencing a massive technological and behavioral shift. “COVID-19 has put these inevitable changes on a fast track. We will recover from the pandemic soon, but these changes will continue for the next few decades until we reach a new equilibrium. As a result, we see emerging asset classes as well as emerging risks. The biggest challenge of the insurance industry today is how to keep up with these changes.”
According to this expert, historically, as an industry, insurance did a terrific job in a changing environment. “But the speed of change we are experiencing now is truly unprecedented- more storms, larger wild-fires, new ways of living and working in the ‘stay-at-home’ economy, and a rapid growth of new tech-driven assets (self-driving cars to crypto to commercial space travel).”
Satadru stressed on the need to understand new assets – how they are fundamentally different from the current understanding. He also emphasized on the need to adopt a similar approach to understanding emerging risks and changing customer expectations.
Lead generation to value creation:
The current home maintenance market is 10-15 years old and is entirely a lead-generation play while Dobby is a value-creation play. “We are a product-led company and have three inter-connected customer-facing products in the market right now: Dobby Homeowners App, Dobby Service Pro App, and Dobby Partner Portal. These are creating tremendous platform-value for the ecosystem.”
Moment of Success
Noting that nothing is more satisfying than building something people love and being part of that building process, Saradru noted, “I was part of AI unicorn DataRobot as an early employee and now with Dobby, we are building a truly 21st-century product in an antiquated industry. Both are transformative journeys as we make things that didn’t exist before.”
A Piece of Advice for Entrepreneurs
“Solve a real problem – even if it is small. And if you can solve a big one – do that. But either way, build the courage and intellectual honesty to validate that you are solving a real problem. Also, spend a disproportionate amount of time on understanding the problem before you design a solution.” signed off Satadru.