Christophe Bourguignat: Turn Data Into Unique Customer Experiences


Zelros is a software editor specialized in artificial intelligence for the insurance industry.

The powerful combination of ethical AI, data, and human expertise is the future of insurance. Operating in Europe and North America, Zelros develops the first AI software dedicated to the insurance distribution of tomorrow. Zelros enables insurance players to offer a proactive and personalized experience to their customers, on any channel.

Overall, Zelros gives sales and digital marketing teams the power to be proactive NOW, empowering them with complete customer and policy knowledge to find the right policy at the right time for each customer leading to satisfied customers, lower attrition, and higher sales – both on digital and direct (human) channels. Recently, Zelros has been recognized as a leader in the AI-based Advanced Insurance Distribution category by Frost & Sullivan.

Tell us about yourself? What is your background? What made you get into this line of work?

I cofounded Zelros together with Damien Philippon and Fabien Vauchelles in 2016. Fabien and I had worked formerly at AXA Data Innovation Lab, which was the trailblazer initiative about leveraging data and AI at scale in Europe. Together with Damien, we decided to  create Zelros with the vision that algorithms would completely change the world around us. Both in our private and professional lives. Some industries have already been completely disrupted by algorithms. For example, Airbnb doesn’t own one single hotel or one single house, but a state-of-the-art platform fueled with state-of-the-art algorithms. Our conviction is that what already happened in a number of industries will be materialized in the insurance industry in the years to come.

What inspired your business? What problem are you trying to solve and for whom?

We’re living in a world that is constantly evolving. Customer buying behaviors are changing, traditional insurance companies are facing the need to modernize their approach to better serve the customer, or they risk to be disrupted. The need to use data and advanced technologies such as AI/ML for better customer experience is being driven by higher customer expectations across channels online and offline. Customers look for proactive, strategic, and personal relationships from their insurance vendors.

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However, nowadays, insurance companies remain largely reactive. Insurance sales and marketing teams don’t have access to the data they need to know their customers, and create a great proactive sales experience that will increase customer satisfaction and sales.

Customers and salespeople alike are frustrated with an experience that doesn’t serve either well.

According to Capgemini World Insurance Report 2021, more than 40% of the agents/brokers polled said they could not consistently meet policyholder expectations for convenience and response time.

Zelros exists to improve customer experience by empowering sales and digital marketing teams to be more proactive and propose personalized solutions. By equipping insurance with complete customer and policy knowledge to find the right policy at the right time for each customer, they can lead toward higher customer satisfaction, lower attrition and, higher sales – both on digital and direct (human) channels.

An outline of your magic sauce. How do you differ from the competition?

Our primary focus is to become the leader of Artificial Intelligence for insurers by increasing the performance of our client’s employees. Zelros already counts with prestigious clients such as Natixis Assurances or Crédit Agricole, which are leaders in the insurance market in France and internationally.

Several thousand insurance employees are currently using our solution daily, serving millions of policyholders in France.

This success is a result of the hard work of all Zelrosians and the great relationship that we have with our partners (for instance Capgemini, with who we have a global partnership, and Microsoft France recently named us Partner of the year in the startup category). With our solution, carriers can deploy operational advanced analytics capabilities 10X times faster than traditional solutions (2 months VS 18 months), and get highly competitive advantages.

How we differentiate from the competition is that we develop a trustworthy ready-to-use AI that empowers humans to be one step closer to their customers. 

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How has the pandemic impacted your company?

The pandemic emphasizes the challenge that many industries are facing, the need to go technology-first and, pushed forward the digitalization process. Insurance companies must now compete with both fast-growth, technology-first insurance startups and tech behemoths heavily investing in insurtech. The need to use technology is being driven by customers who now expect online access, simplicity, and personalization. Zelros is part of this evolution and have for mission to enable insurers to have more information about their customers and offer a more personalized experience.

An outline of the way the world is changing and how you fit into it. (optional)

The world and the society we are living in are changing. Facing many challenges (Floods, natural catastrophe, pandemics…) we know that our planet will never be the same, and among all industries, insurances will become the shock absorber of our society.

Decently and fairly insuring 10 billion humans will be a top challenge of the century. As it is the duty of insurers to care for and protect citizens, we have a role to play. Zelros wants to empower insurers with all the necessary data and recommendations to help them be closer to their customers, know them better, and answer to their needs.

What is the vision? Where do you see your company going in 5 years?

The customer-centric approach is a trend is going to continue to expand. Zelros wants to be part of it and evolve its solution along with agents and policyholders needs and expectations. Why not expanding our solutions to other financial services in the future. However, in 5 years, Zelros will be the global leading tech enabler for insurance distribution – for small to large carriers, and marketplaces embedding insurance services.

Which was the most challenging phase, and what would you have done differently?

The most challenging phase are the early phases of a startup, and I believe also at any stage, to hire and create a best-in-class team. You need to have a clear vision of your mission, of your corporate values, and gather everyone around a compelling project. Maybe what we could have done differently is giving even more trust and ownership to the members of the team. You never provide enough confidence to smart people.

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What has been your biggest win so far?

From the beginning, we wanted to make Zelros an international company. We started to expand in Germany and Italy in 2020.

In February 2021, we successfully closed a Series A fundraising round of $11M led by Silicon Valley-based BGV with new participation from ISAI Cap Venture and Plug and Play. And we are using the funding to scale operations across Europe and expand into North America, strengthening our leadership position in the insurtech space. Damien Philippon, co-founder and COO launched the company’s Montreal-based North American headquarters in Q3 2021. We now have a team working in North America, this expansion is really thriving our motivation to develop our solution internationally.

How do people get involved/buy into your  vision?

The world’s population is made of individual personalities, with very unique lives. Every single one deserves to be cared for. As the pillar of the world, it is the insurers’ responsibility to make safety accessible to everyone – and Zelros will enable them to do this and ensure that each individual’s life and needs are taken care of.

However, policyholders are frustrated because personal insurance is complex, not transparent, and reactive compared to their expectations. Our data-first technology helps carriers and brokers to solve this problem, by offering a more personalized and proactive customer experience. This leads to premium growth, and reduced customer churn.

Zelros is looking to collaborate with insurance companies that want to be more proactive and customer-centric, a chance to be part of a better future.

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