Contrary to most Technology startups that fall over themselves touting their credentials as “disruptors,” Noldor, an insurtech founded last year, aims to be an “anti-disruptor,” says founder and CEO John Horneff.
The company provides digital program data for MGAs, carriers and reinsurers. Horneff says its mission is enablement rather than disruption. “When you look at more entrenched or established industries that are highly regulated, like finance or insurance or healthcare or government, a much smarter bet in my experience has been betting that things didn’t just end up here by chance,” he says. “There are good reasons for why the ecosystems around those entrenched industries evolved the way that they did. Rather than trying to tear it all down, being an enablement layer is not only a smarter bet to make, it ultimately does result in better outcomes for everyone.”
MGAs need to structure data and information so that it will fit their record management systems; reinsurers need data to fit a reinsurance submission packet format. “Third-party administrators need data in a way that can be entered into their claim management platform or inspections ordering dashboard,” Horneff says. “Rather than building dozens and dozens of different feeds, we create a standardized process to take information from MGAs and act as a Rosetta Stone to translate that seamlessly into all of the formats that we need in this ecosystem to run profitable business.”
Noldor is named after a race of elves from the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien, who were known for naming everything in their world. Horneff says the name is apt because “we’re charting a path in what has been an opaque industry and starting to create common structures for naming conventions and accessing data.”
Horneff came to Noldor with previous experiences launching financial data Technology startups Addepar from 2011 to 2014 and Quovo from 2016 to 2018. He became an entrepreneur in residence at the D.E. Shaw Group in 2020, where its DESCOvery venture studio incubated Noldor.
From these financial data experiences, Horneff learned that aggregation and normalization of data is a commodity rather than a differentiator. Still, commoditizing data can, he says, “change the world so that rather than spending 80 to 90% of your time cleaning and normalizing processing data and only 10% of the time analyzing it, you can do the inverse.”
Only 10% of a company’s time should have to be spent processing data, Horneff asserts, and the rest of the time should be spent on analytics, which are valuable. “Noldor has already come through and effectively commoditized that service so that it can reduce the expenses for everyone in the ecosystem,” he says.
Most of what is “wrong inside the insurance ecosystem,” Horneff adds, is infrastructure related. “If we can realistically reduce the expenses associated with placing insurance, anything that aligns in that mission has a very long future in the ecosystem.”