Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. recently selected Milwaukee startup Pythonic AI as the winner of its second Reverse Pitch MKE competition.
Pythonic co-founders Matt Younkle and Baoqiang Cao triumphed over six other teams in the pitch contest. They will receive a seed investment of up to $85,000 from Northwestern Mutual, and a spot in its Cream City Labs innovation space at 733 N. Van Buren St., next to the company’s downtown headquarters.
In Reverse Pitch, Northwestern Mutual executives present their business challenges to entrepreneurs from around the country. Entrepreneur teams come up with solutions, then pitch them back to the company.
Pythonic AI uses machine learning and natural language processing to automate portions of medical records review in the life and disability insurance sector. The aim is to incubate the software platform at Northwestern Mutual and then market it to other insurers to speed the underwriting process, Younkle said.
Pythonic AI’s MedReviewer platform not only helps streamline processes and create economic value for Northwestern Mutual, but also provides access to a big addressable market, said Karl Gouverneur, corporate chief information officer and head of digital innovation at Northwestern Mutual.
“We know that there is a need to reduce the amount of review required to analyze PDF medical records in the underwriting process for an insurance policy or evaluating a claim,” he said.
Younkle, 45, and Cao, 43, met about a year ago. They had already been exploring the application of machine learning to understanding medical documents, Younkle said.
Younkle and Cao are working with underwriters at Northwestern Mutual to understand how they currently evaluate medical documents and what items they are looking for in the risk assessment process so they can build a taxonomy into the platform.
“There will need to be a degree of customization,” Younkle said. “When you attempt to automate something, it’s important that it fit in really nicely with existing workflows.”
The co-founders’ current goal is to create a minimum viable product with the funding from Northwestern Mutual.
“We’re very early stage, so we’re in development right now,” Younkle said. “We’re working toward a pilot.”
Location: Cream City Labs, 733 N. Van Buren St., Milwaukee
Founders: Matt Younkle and Baoqiang Cao
Founded: March 2019
Product: Automated medical records review platform
Goal: Finish building the product
Experience: Younkle is an inventor of TurboTap, and previously co-founded Madison startups Cardigan and Murfie. Cao founded Chicago startups Motor Salutem and legalchrome.com, and previously worked in machine learning and data analysis at American Family Insurance.