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Pineapple: The growth challenges faced by a South African Insurtech disruptor

Publication date: 8 December 2022


Subject area of the teaching case:

This case study is intended to supplement postgraduate business learning with the facilitation of an academic practitioner. The case draws on a culmination of subjects, and the participants are encouraged to juxtapose the case information with their professional experiences; however, the primary focus of the case material will be centred on strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Student level:

The primary audience for the teaching case is management education programmes including: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip), specialist Masters in Management, and certain Executive Education programmes.

Brief overview of the teaching case:

This case is about protagonist Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube, the cofounder of an innovative technology-enabled insurance intermediary company called Pineapple. The company has identified an opportunity to resolve the inherent conflict of interest within the insurance industry, as well as the grudge association of non-life insurance purchases. While the competitive landscape of the sector is traditionally dominated by a few large incumbent market participants, Pineapple's digital distribution strategy is more effective at converting ‘clicks-to-clients’, at a fraction of the typical customer acquisition cost. The peer-to-peer business model also allows for superior risk-selection, greater affinity, and lower incidents of fraudulent claims. Ndabenhle and the team develop the company's customer acquisition strategy by drawing on technological trends, reputation drivers, and a concentrated social media approach that focusses on trust, access, product, and value. But, as 2020 begins, Ndabenhle faces choices about the means and methods of scaling the business operation. The case documents the first few years of Pineapple's operations, with a strong focus on business model innovation, distribution, scalability, and technological integration.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • To analyse the role disruptive technologies play within sectoral business model innovation

  • To evaluate the industry-specific competitive business landscape and complexities of building and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage within a niche market segment

  • To assess the strategic growth opportunities for an emerging market Insurtech disruptor

  • To critically appraise the entrepreneurial complexities faced by decision-makers when looking to challenge incumbent market leaders



Tladinyane, L., Gumede, L. and Bick, G. (2022), "Pineapple: The growth challenges faced by a South African Insurtech disruptor", .



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