Reid Holzworth has a wide tech background and took the helm of IVANS this past October 2020. ACT sat down with Reid to talk about how his past prepped him for leading IVANS into the future, creating a true information superhighway, and insights on IVANS' role in working with all in our distribution channel.
Let's spend just a moment looking back; What do you feel your biggest success was with Tech Canary - other than building something so special that it captured the attention of Applied Systems?
I think it's kind of funny looking back – We were in the thick of it, and we didn't realize the impact – All we were doing was executing. Stepping back, it was really being connected to this industry. What it did was bring me PERSONALLY more truly connected to the industry. Now, when I'm on the phone with someone, it's like talking to family. A lot of people say that this industry is a great one, but it's totally true. That's an achievement. There are so many people to thank along the way in this journey – We can't do anything on our own, and the 'community' aspect of this industry is to thank for that. And that's why people dedicate their lives to this.
You've chosen a wide career path thus far - From the time at starting the computer software company Pristine, managing at a multi-location insurance agency, and founding a Salesforce-based insurance technology solution set. Can you tell us a bit more about this career path, and how you feel it's readied you for being CEO of IVANS?
So frankly, I'm a serial entrepreneur – I was born into an entrepreneurial family; my dad was a serial entrepreneur, and he actually made me start my first business at 12 years old just to show me how to do so. I almost got a 'real' job at one point, and he sat me down and almost had an intervention to say, 'do you REALLY want that?". But seriously, I've always been like this, so you see opportunities differently and use a different lens. After you've done it a few times – and I've had a number of failures – and you start to better understand what success looks like and how to better make that happen. It's hard for a textbook to teach you that, you have to be in the thick of it and learn that. So, when you look at IVANS and why does that opportunity make sense – Think about what that position requires to take an industry leader from the past 35 years into the next 35 years. It requires someone that been involved in a lot of different ways, and also someone that's been involved in technology – How are people connecting today? And what does that look like? So, for me, being a part of the industry, being an entrepreneur, been involved with tech makes sense. And yes, it was a bold move to tap me for the position, but it was also a strategic move. To open up and do some cool new things with IVANS leadership.
And now, looking forward with a wider lens; Can you outline some aspects of your vision for IVANS and the industry? What obstacles or challenges do you see in achieving those visions, and being a more open and nimble industry?
If you look at IVANS, it's been connecting the industry for over three decades. We've done that. At its core IVANS is the superhighway of insurance – I know that sounds kind of funny & 'buzzwordy', but it's true. We're connecting everyone – At each offramp, you drive down the highway, get to an offramp, hop off and grab what you need, then back up on the highway. We've done this with 430 carriers, 30 MGAs, 40 agency management systems (who knew there were that many?). The reality is that some of the 'offramps' are a bit different, but as more traffic is going down the highway, these partners are going to build the future infrastructure for the traffic. It becomes a standard from what was once, in essence, a 'dirt road'. Bottom line is that we're seeing a lot of the carriers modernize their entire tech stack for this digital revolution – and they have to because those who are current will get more revenue. So long story short, I don't see challenges per se, it's more adaptation over time to get everyone on board – And it's happening!
Considering what you've built in significant carrier and vendor support; talk a bit about making IVANS more agile, and your vision to drive that direction.
Right now, we're hell-bent on modernizing our entire tech stack – we're bringing everything to the next level. The reality is that in order to get to that 'superhighway' goal and provide that connectivity for all stakeholders, we have to modernize our infrastructure – we're moving everything to the cloud, our partnership with Google has been huge. I hear all the time from people that the Google partnership is a 'data play', and that is 100% not true - Google does not have access to any data. Where they come in for us is that when we call, they pick up the phone and they commit the resources like architects needed for us to solve a problem, and bringing it to the next level. What does that mean? Completely open APIs, cloud, modernizing the infrastructure. To go back to the 'superhighway' analogy, we're a 4-lane highway with bumps – we're re-paving and making it into an 8-lane highway to get to that 'Autobahn' state.
In the past, we've connected the agencies to the distribution. Now we're connecting the right insuretech partners to create efficiencies. We need MORE connectivity – Our goal is to open it all up and enable innovation by connecting everyone.
And keep in mind – There have been SO many people giving time to IVANS to get us where we are now.
Applied Systems has absolutely built a large palette of solutions and services for our IA distribution – including the acquisition of Tech Canary. How can Applied assist you in achieving your vision for IVANS and the future of our IA distribution?
In thinking about Taylor Rhodes, he is a legit tech leader of the industry. Look at what he created with Rackspace – they pioneered the cloud, webmail - amazing! So yes, Taylor 100% gets it. So why does that make sense? I was clear coming into the role – IVANS is IVANS, it is its own entity with its own leadership, and is a separate company. That said, Applied is one of our best partners, so we can go to and talk with the biggest, best agencies in our industry through Applied and ask them 'What do you need? What can really help you?" Find that out first, then that helps the rest of the industry. And another thing about Applied as a partner is, they can take our [products and implement them very rapidly. Applied is also going through a complete revolution internally though Taylor – They are updating their entire tech stack. They now have the ability to do this where they did not in the past. The partnership is truly a 'win-win'.
IVANS has a unique position – we do business with everyone, including Applied.
Speaking personally; I know you're an adrenaline junkie and have a diverse group of hobbies. Is there any one activity or hobby you love doing that absolutely shoves everything else out of your mind and fills you to the core?
I don't know – I'm into a lot of things. The biggest things that fulfill me are things like big hikes – climbing mountains. Backpacking on a mountain requires total focus – being in sub-zero temps at high elevation, and pushing yourself more than you think you're capable of, man, that brings you back for more.
I've also been auto racing for a very long time, and I love racing cars. Most recently, I'm absolutely obsessed with motocross, I love racing dirt bikes - I just got into that in the past year. Doing it well is so hard – being able to manipulate a 250–300-pound bike in the air, navigating through a corner while you're hitting just the right amount of throttle and clutch, the surface you're on – it's so much but it's funny because the pros make it look so easy. And when you get it right – once or twice – that feeling keeps you coming back!