Northwestern Mutual holding second Reverse Pitch MKE event

Northwestern Mutual is looking for new startup solutions to industry problems through the second Reverse Pitch MKE event.

The competition is being held Nov. 6 as part of Startup Milwaukee Week, and is open to startup companies nationwide.

“We recognize that great ideas can come from outside our four walls and welcome outside-in thinking,” said Karl Gouverneur, vice president of digital workplace, corporate solutions and head of digital innovation at Northwestern Mutual.

Flipping the script on a standard pitch competition, company executives will pitch three target challenges to entrepreneurs. This year, those challenges are: securing payments, evaluating inclusion, and streamlining medical record review.

For the first, entrepreneurs will have to come up with “an automated and secure way” to conduct business-to-business financial transactions involving high-dollar amounts. Northwestern Mutual is seeking to improve on the current standard, which requires employees’ manual intervention to avoid fraud or error.

The company is also seeking to evaluate efforts to boost inclusion and diversity in the workplace, above and beyond the “traditional practices” of simple counting and surveying. According to a release from the company, that could mean examining the language and messaging within the company’s online content and internal systems.

Finally, Northwestern Mutual is looking for a way to reduce human involvement in analyzing PDF medical records in the process of underwriting an insurance policy, or evaluating an insurance claim. The company lists current obstacles like redundant data, disorderly records and a disjointed system.

Early-stage business leaders with the best solutions will be selected for funding and other resources to get those solutions developed. The winners will also get connected to corporate mentors, and will have dedicated space in the company’s Cream City Labs in downtown Milwaukee. They’ll also be eligible for up to $85,000 in venture investment from Cream City Venture Capital.

Last year’s winner was Socialeads, a machine learning platform to analyze social networks and deliver insights to financial advisors. That startup is currently working out of Cream City Labs and developing a proof of concept for the platform.

Starting in January, participating teams can apply to present their custom solutions to Northwestern Mutual. The winner will be announced in February 2019.

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