New York Life’s annual Hackathon presents employees with an opportunity to brainstorm, design, and build an innovative business solution in under 24 hours. Our 2018 “NYL Hack” is now under our belts, but for the three winning teams, the journey is set to continue as they work with businesses leaders and New York Life Ventures to further build out their ideas.

The participants of “NYL Hack 2018” divided into their tracks of their choosing for either Marketing and Data Science (sponsored by New York Life Senior Management, Alex Cook, head of Retail Life and Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Bottomley), Investments (sponsored by Yie-Hsin Hung, head of New York Life Investments Management, or Ventures (sponsored by Joel Albarella, head of New York Life Ventures). “I was really impressed with the energy and the great ideas that came out of the hackathon," says Michelle Bottomley. “I saw each one of their ideas as a gift, not only to marketing and sales, but to our entire company, as we work to grow our customer base and provide more people with financial security and peace of mind in the years to come.”

“The hackathon shows the great things that can happen when creative individuals have a platform and a process to collaborate”- Kendall Miller, NYL Ventures

Unique Challenges:

1) The Investments track were tasked building an app that helps New York Life Investments engage with financial advisors in a new way.

2) The Marketing and Data Science track challenged team members to use data and analytics to better identify, understand and reach their desired target markets while providing agents with high-potential prospects, and an aligned go-to-market program, to double the number of New York Life policy owners in the next 10 years.

3) The New York Life Ventures track were asked to develop ways New York Life might utilize new technologies to better position our policy owners, agents, and employees to thrive in today’s gig economy?

This year’s pool consisted of over 170 people on 40 teams. And as in past years, a diverse variety of employees and departments were represented on the hackathon floor. Not only did contestants have to think on their feet and create a viable solution to what, but they had to do so in 24 hours—an impressive feat for anyone.

The offsite hack

This year was unique on many levels. Day one took place offsite at New York’s historic Altman Building, and the hackathon generated the most prototype and idea submissions we’ve ever received for this event. Plus, there were even participants from our business in Mexico, Seguros Monterrey New York Life (SMNYL).

Mariana Lizbeth Dominguez, who works in information security and IT governance, flew in from Mexico City with some of her SMNYL coworkers to join in NYL Hack. “My experience in the hackathon was incredible,” she says. “I think getting to know other people with completely different roles and skills and being able to create a solution from scratch is amazing. Also, the language was not a barrier for me and my SMNYL colleagues. We found a very supportive environment and we felt very comfortable sharing our ideas. Now, with all the experience gained, we are planning to have a hackathon at SMNYL next year to promote innovation.”

Whether a hackathon newbie or veteran, this year’s event managed to wow participants. For example, Susan Cohen, Global Technology Quality Leader, is not only new to the NYL Hack, but she’s also new to the company, having joined just a few months ago. “The hackathon was really well produced; it gave me an opportunity to meet a wide range of colleagues, develop some new skills, and gain a better understanding of our business lines,” she says. “Our team has stayed in touch and we are already making plans for next year’s hackathon!”

On the other end of the experience spectrum, four-time hackathon competitor Joe Brandenburg, from Technology adds “I think having the hackathon offsite this year added to the excitement. Being in the giant room and collaborating with your team, you could just feel the energy exploding from everyone else. It’s really contagious, and this year you could feel it.”

“The hackathon shows the great things that can happen when creative individuals have a platform and a process to collaborate,” says Kendall Miller from NYL Ventures. “This drive to think differently doesn’t end on the hackathon floor either. Teams across the company should continue to meet and address business challenges; New York Life Ventures is here to help these efforts.”

Our home office’s Ben Feldman Auditorium was packed on a Friday afternoon with employees eager to watch the teams present their solutions to the judges. Adding to the challenge—they had only five minutes apiece in which to pitch and answer questions.

The competition was fierce in all three categories, giving the judges the unenviable task of whittling the entries down to a select few. Three finalists were selected from each track to present their ideas to the panel, sponsors, and spectators, after which the three winners were chosen. Below is a short summary of the winning ideas.

Investments track: VEGA enables advisors to stay ahead of the rising trend in socially responsible investing through education, engagement, portfolio management, and screening.

Marketing and Data Science track: The IntelliLead app delivers optimized leads to grow an agent's practice by using data to identify what makes their clients unique.

Ventures track: PayStream is designed for the “gig economy” and is a streaming and micropayments service that helps provide quick and incremental payments that can aid sales or commission professionals.

What’s next?

The Ventures’ Innovation Services team and the hackathon sponsors will guide the winning teams on the next steps on developing the winning products and guide them on their journey to potentially bring them to market. Congratulations to all of the winning teams and good luck to everyone participating next year.

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Kevin Maher
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-6955

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