A headshot of Mike Kirkup CTO of Encircle

What happens when Canadian entrepreneurs spot an opportunity to help speed up the insurance claims process? Encircle, that’s what!

What’s Encircle?

Encircle works with customers primarily in the insurance industry to reinvent processes and improve productivity. This Kitchener, Ontario-based software company provides an alternative to traditional, cumbersome, paper-based systems. Their simple, but powerful cloud-based, mobile tools allow organizations to deliver a more fair, transparent, and rapid claim experience.

Image of user flow as seen in the mobile experience

How it works

Encircle delivers mobile and web software to policyholders, insurance companies, and restoration contractors. Their tools create transparency by showing what’s happening in the field, in real time. Field staff can use smartphones to capture photos, videos, notes, and sketches. Through Link, policyholders can highlight areas for concern in a claims situation before the insurance company or contractor sets foot onsite. This improved communication ensures that the right people and right equipment get deployed.

“Better communication solves many of the challenges the insurance industry faces, especially in dealing with damages and casualties. The Encircle platform introduces a more transparent way to communicate that inspires trust and helps insurers make fast and reliable decisions. Consumers benefit too, from a much better, faster and less contentious process.”

– Mike Kirkup, Chief Technical Officer at Encircle

Trial by fire & flood

Encircle played a vital role in helping businesses and customers during disasters, such as the Fort McMurray wildfire in May 2016 and the Windsor flood of October 2016. Because of the increased level of quality in reporting, claims that would otherwise take up to 24 hours were turned around within an hour using Encircle.
Kate Nelson, an Adjuster at Gore Mutual (a Cambridge, Ontario-based insurance company), put it this way:

“Encircle eliminated a huge amount of back and forth calls and emails that take up so much time. Our files were updated automatically while most other teams of adjusters had to wait hours for photos, notes, documents to upload.”

– Kate Nelson, Adjuster at Gore Mutual

The making of a startup

Encircle was one of the startups that went through Velocity—the acclaimed entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo and the largest free startup incubator in the world. During his tenure as the Director of Velocity, Mike fell in love with the Encircle concept and joined the company as CTO. He brought Encircle to the Microsoft for Startups program to help realize the potential of the business.

“It just works”

Under Mike’s stewardship, Encircle also moved to Microsoft Azure. This migration resolved the data residency concerns of their Canadian clients by leveraging Microsoft’s datacentres in Ontario and Quebec. Today, the company relies on Azure to run their entire backend infrastructure—including their mobile and web app, API, and data storage. “One of the great things,” reports Mike, “is that we don’t have to call or complain because it just works.”

The road ahead

With an incredible foothold in the market already, 2017 and beyond will see Encircle expand further into the United States, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The team sees enormous, global potential for their solutions. And they see a way to scale quickly, thanks to Microsoft’s network of datacentres delivering local cloud services reliably worldwide.

Do you run a startup?

Learn how Microsoft for Startups works. The Microsoft for Startups program provides qualified privately held startups with Microsoft development and testing software, training, phone support, and Microsoft Azure cloud services. To qualify, your startup must be less than five years old and earn less than $1 million annually. Check out these cool stories of other entrepreneurs who received invaluable assistance from Microsoft.