By: Namish Modi (he/him)

As a fast-growing fintech startup on the rise in Canada, Dundas Life is looking to make the process of purchasing insurance easier for Canadians. University of Waterloo co-op students are key to the organization’s innovation goals.

Dundas Life, founded in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizes innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset in its mission. 

“When looking at the insurance industry, we often look to the United States where they’re a bit more advanced on the regulatory front and on the technological side,” says Martin Ochwat (BMath ’14).

With the help of Waterloo co-op students and emerging technologies, Ochwat, a former co-op student himself, hopes to bridge that gap.

“Having the ability to go through different job opportunities in different industries really helped shape my career path,” says Ochwat.

"I know the quality of the talent and the program. Waterloo co-ops are our main source of hiring here. We come back every single term and we’re always impressed by the ideas and talent they bring.”

Martin Ochwat

Martin Ochwat, director of operations at Dundas Life

Greg Rozdeba

Greg Rozdeba, co-founder and CEO of Dundas Life

Greg Rozdeba, co-founder and CEO of Dundas Life, says Waterloo students are key to the innovations the organization is working to employ.

“A lot of what we are doing is fairly new in the insurance space,” says Rozdeba.

“A lot of life insurance companies are pretty behind the times, so for us, digitizing a lot of that process helps us stand out and helps our customers as well."

"Being able to partner with an institution like Waterloo, we’ve been able to tap into world-class talent and work on a lot of these issues bit by bit.”

Students work on a small team at Dundas Life where they can learn directly from leaders with strong entrepreneurial spirits.

They have directed marketing videos and generated ads using AI. Through the projects implemented by students, Dundas Life has seen tremendous growth in customer engagement and retention and broader brand awareness.

Dundas Life is the recipient of the 2022
Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) Employer Impact Awards for Impact in Innovation. Dundas Life received the award for its innovative approach to providing impactful and important opportunities for Waterloo students.

Employer Impact Award diamond shaped glass trophy and the Dundas Life logo

By empowering students with an entrepreneurial mindset, Dundas Life is allowing them to be innovative and creative problem solvers. They offer students business opportunities to practice and see the tangible results of their AI skills.

Norah McRae, associate provost of CEE

Remote video URL

From the ground up

Waterloo students have played a key role in Dundas Life since the company's inception. “I find students often have that scrappy mindset, so they quickly embrace the startup mentality,” says Ochwat. “They're able to achieve a lot in a short amount of time and then I think it not only benefits us, but also gives them great experiences that they can use in future roles.”

When the company started, they hired two to five co-op students per term. Today, the company hires 15 to 20 students. In the past year, Dundas Life has worked with students from Waterloo programs such as WE Accelerate, Co-operative Education and Bridging Entrepreneurs to Students (BETS).

WE Accelerate students were particularly important in helping get Dundas Life off the ground. The organization is the first WE Accelerate project provider to be recognized as an Employer Impact Award recipient since the program launched three years ago.

Students finding value in responsibility at Dundas Life

Richard Zhou

Richard Zhou, Business and Computer Science student

Richard Zhou (he/him), a second-year double degree Business and Computer Science student, completed his first co-op term at Dundas Life in spring 2023.

A big part of Dundas Life is innovation which Zhou says includes, “really no boundaries.”

During his term, Zhou worked on a big project called Broker Bucks that works on automation for insurance brokers.

“It creates a better understanding from the broker of what they’re selling, what they’re making and overall sales,” says Zhou.

“This was a super exciting project for me because I really got to create it from scratch. I think that’s a benefit of working with a startup is that you get a chance to understand every part of a project from design to implementation, to testing, which you might not get at a larger tech company.” 

Ellen Shao, a Financial Analysis and Risk Management student, completed her first co-op term at Dundas Life in spring 2023.

“I think something that really stood out to me about the position is the implementation of the innovative approach,” says Shao.

“For the traditional practices to change and evolve into digital solutions.”

During her time at Dundas Life, Shao worked with many AI tools and incorporated them into her daily tasks to make work more efficient.

Ellen Shao

Ellen Shao, Financial Analysis and Risk Management student

Being honoured with this award is incredibly important to us here. On our end, we receive so much value from the school and the co-ops, so it’s great that we have been providing impactful workspace for these students. We’ve gotten a lot done over the course of the last few years, and it’s good to hear that the students and faculty feel the same way.

Greg Rozdeba, co-founder and CEO of Dundas Life