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A rose by any other name…

Blog post   •   Feb 03, 2014 14:46 GMT

A rose by any other name…

Ever wonder why we chose the name “Discovery”?

Adrian Gore resigned from his job as an actuary at Liberty Life and on 10 March 1992 set up office at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Headquarters, armed with an exam pad full of ideas and a dormant insurance license (held by RMB) that was lent to him by Laurie Dippenaar. One of the items on Adrian’s to-do-list read, “Product development – come up with ideas”.

Although the product hadn’t taken shape yet, Adrian knew what he wanted to achieve. He wanted to start a company that would create innovative health insurance products to appeal to a wide market, including the young and healthy.

Inspired by the keys in the RMB logo, Adrian proposed calling the venture Key Life. It was this name, placed on a letterhead with Barry Swartzberg listed as a director, coupled with Adrian’s enthusiasm that persuaded his old colleague and friend to join the venture.

Adrian and Barry, along with their growing team (which now included John Robertson and Stewart Whyte) had by February 1993 scribbled the idea for the revolutionary Medical Savings Account on another exam pad.

Meanwhile, RMB had acquired another life insurer, Momentum, and so it had made sense for Key Life to focus purely on health insurance and change its name to Momentum Health. Thus Adrian and his team’s entrepreneurial journey began.

At the end of 1993 Discovery Health (still called Momentum Health at that stage), covered 3 300 lives and generated premium income of about R1 million in its first year. The insurer reached profitability in 1995.

While the company that Adrian and Barry started was still called Momentum Health, the products that they developed were always called “Discovery”. By 1998, the company had grown in leaps and bounds, now employing over 1 000 people. Ernst & Young voted Adrian Entrepreneur of the Year and the company achieved profits of more than R90 million.

Plans to list the company on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) were afoot, and the need to create a distinct corporate identity, separate to that of Momentum, had become clear. Barry Swartzberg recalls: “…We were flying back from seeing some guys in Cape Town, and on the plane we were saying, “We need a name for our product that’s special.” So Adrian said, “Pioneer or something.” So I said, “Discovery” and he said, “That’s the name”! And so that’s what we called it”. In October 1998, Momentum Health became Discovery Health and the Discovery Health brand was officially launched.

The Discovery brand has grown to become one of the most trusted brands in the industry. That same commitment and enthusiasm for identifying and filling needs still burns as brightly as it did in those early founding days.

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