September 2021

OneSpark was recently featured in FastCompany magazine's publication of the 100 Most Innovative global companies. To read the article, that was published in the print version of the magazine, please read below.

For the people by the people

Purpose-driven and passionate South African entrepreneurs, Greg Smith and Josh Kaplan are the founders of OneSpark- the new insurance company on the black that’s completely re-inventing the wheel.

Combining their commitment to socially responsible products with advanced technology. OneSpark has created world-first insurance products where the premiums are 50% less than the market. Their goal? To uplift society and help working-class South Africans lead better lives.

After spending time in the insurance industry as qualified actuaries, they realised how exploitative the current insurance landscape is towards the most vulnerable members of society. Instead of making massive profits at the expense of consumers. OneSpark wants to provide South African with dignity and financial freedom through their products. Fast Company SA chatted to Greg and Josh for an exclusive look into how they achieve this.

With OneSpark, your goal is to empower working-class South Africans and help them lead better lives. What led you to founding this company?

Our experience as actuaries showed us that the insurance industry at large, is stuck in the past and steeped in archaic systems, products and distribution methods, passing on massive costs to clients. More so, the inherent asymmetry of information which persists (due to the innate complexity of the products), has enabled the massive exploitation of consumers. It is also a deep passion that we both share for a better South Africa and world at large, and the innate desire to help improve lives, that really sparked our journey to create a socially responsible insurance company.

2. How does OneSpark differ from other insurance companies?

OneSpark was built for people, not profits. Insurers today are driven by the singular pursuit of profits. In contrast, OneSpark is driven by purpose. That’s why we’ve designed world-first products that don’t just provide the same protection for half the price as other products, but where you can derive enormous, life-changing value from your products when you don’t claim. To our knowledge, our mass market products are the world’s first that actually pay out more if you don’t claim. We believe this subtle change in focus will have a profound impact on the perception of insurance in lower income markets, turning it from a grudge purchase to a wanted good.

3. How does OneSpark manage to charge such low premiums?

There is no one ‘silver-bullet’ that enables us to charge our affordable premiums. This is achieved through a combination of:

Socially responsible pricing: We don’t load for unsustainable profit margins like traditional insurers. Our pricing innovations will enable the sustainable growth of OneSpark.

Advanced technology: We have automated many of the tasks that would normally take a team of people, such as client onboarding and servicing. We have also used technology in very smart ways, which has allowed us to cut out the corporate bloat that typically makes up a significant portion of a traditional insurance premium.

Actual breakthrough: This includes utilising thousands of data points, mortality, morbidity and lapse experience in unique ways, so as to achieve a number of efficiencies which we can then transfer back to the client in the form of lower premiums. We currently have multiple international patents protecting our innovations.

Our people: When we started the company, our mantra was to hire people that were better and stronger than ourselves. If you peak into the OneSpark workforce, you’ll find the smartest young minds in South Africa. All young, passionate, ambitious South Africans who believe in our common goal.

The combination of these factors typically results in our premiums being up to 70% lower than our competitors for the same level of protection.

4. What has the response been like thus far in the uptake of the Millionaire Policy?

Unbelievable thus far. It’s humbling to see how excited clients are getting about insurance. Traditionally insurance has always been a grudge purchase, but we’ve had stories of clients phoning in, day-after-day, asking when we are launching our new products for them! We plan to roll out an upgraded version over the next couple of months. As we finalise this rollout and build, we will begin shifting our marketing efforts from our Millionaire Policy to our other world-first product lines.

5. Do you plan to extend your product offering?

In May, we plan to launch a completely new type of life insurance, specifically targeting millennials: The world’s first Pay-as-you-need and Peer-to-peer life insurance, powered by AI.

The way it works is that we take a flat fee to manage your policy, payout claims in times of need, and whatever’s leftover at the end of the year we give back to you.

The product also uses patented algorithms and advanced AI to provide you with cover that matches your unique financial needs every year.

Beyond this, OneSpark is also working on a number of other world-first products in different market segments, from healthcare to banking. So, as we said, we’re really only just getting started.

6. What are some of your visions/goals for the future of OneSpark?

To change the world, for the better. It’s something we have both lived our lives striving to achieve. We named the company ‘OneSpark’, coming from our deep-rooted belief that it just takes one person with one spark of an idea to change the world. Our corporate motto is: To continuously innovate for the betterment of our clients and the pursuit of a better world.

In South Africa, our short term goal is to protect 1 million working-class South Africans over the next 36 months.

We are also aiming at proving immense value in the established insurance market in South Africa and other developed countries worldwide, where we believe the life insurance markets are all ripe for a complete disruption. At the moment we are currently working on the initial set-up phase in South Africa, where we expect to roll our to different global markets within the next 24 months.