"Portrt" the 42nd team to qualify for this year's MIT semi-finalist round


This story is provided by MIT Enterprise Forum - Pan-Arab Region.

Lebanese “Portrt” has been selected as one of the semi-finalist teams for this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Start-Up Competition for the Ideas Track.

Portrait is John Chehaybar’s conceptual brainchild, yet a project adopted by Marwa Boukarim and Naim Zard. It consists of an online insurance aggregator that hosts an immediately searchable catalog of insurance policies from different insurers, while aiming at facilitating the online experience of finding and comparing insurance products, by increasing services visibility, which enables online channel getting introduced to the market of customers.


Portrt is founded on a “less is more” approach to problem solving, a concept that is clearly visible in the name. “Everything I’ve seen in Finance, Law, and IT either proves what large costs are brought on by excessively complex systems, or on the flipside of that, what incredible and scalable payoff simplicity has” says John. He supports his hypothesis by comparing the complexity and cost of the global financial crisis to the bottom-up simplicity and large payoff of the internet.

The idea has been maturing for several years. It aims to flatten complex bureaucracy and provide access and simplicity of information to the widest audience, all without requiring people to change much of their habits.

Project briefing

Portrt builds an integrated set of technology solutions around the network of Insurance providers, brokers, and customers. It bridges the gaps in the connections between them. The end result for customers is convenience in making claims and renewals across multiple platforms, and easy access to information to compare insurance products and features. For brokers, Portrt helps them expand their service offering for their customers far more than they ever could. They can sell any policy by any insurer and still offer reliable cross-platform support through Portrt. And insurers are happy as well because their products gain full market visibility across many distribution channels, and also gain a convenience that makes them more attractive to customers.

Furthermore, the online platform is offered as a perfect base to launch environmentally and socially minded initiatives that help mitigate risk and improve quality of life. When insurers compete on product features, completely new insurance products or innovative pilot programs could be introduced which would help push industry standards forward.

Advice for entrepreneurs

Portrt considers that a startup project needs meaningful support to survive, and the MITEF Arab Startup Competition goes a long way in providing support of that kind. “ In short, and in startups like everything else, I can only speak of my own experience to say the network is your friend” concludes John.

Find out more about Portrt by:

Watching a video pitch about their project here

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