German InsureTech platform Hepster raises $10M Series A led by Element Ventures

Hepster, an insurtech platform from Germany, has raised $10 million in a Series A funding led by Element Ventures. Also participating was Seventure Partners, MBMV, and GPS Ventures, as well as previous investors. The funds will be used to broaden the Hepster insurance ecosystem and scale up its network, with an emphasis on automation.

The German insurance market is famously slow at adopting new practices, and Hepster is part of a new wave of insurtech startups in the country taking advantage of this. It allows businesses to build insurance policies from scratch, matched specifically to the needs of their individual service or industry. E-commerce players, for instance, can then embed these insurance products into the e-commerce journey.

Its products are therefore better suited to the new sector of, for example, shared e-bike schemes and peer-to-peer rental platforms, which are rarely covered by traditional brokers in Germany. However, it also caters to traditional, established industries as well.

It now has more than 700 partners, including European bike retailers and rental companies Greenstorm Mobility and Baron Mobility, as well as Berlin-based cargo bike provider Citkar and Munich e-bike startup SUSHI.

Christian Range, Hepster co-founder and CEO, said in a statement: “Hepster is now a key player within the European insurance market. Our state-of-the-art technology with our API-driven ecosystem, as well as our highly service-oriented approach, sets us apart.” 

In interview, he told me: “Germany is the toughest market with the most regulations, the most laws. We have a saying in Germany if you can make it in Germany, you can make it everywhere. Also, it’s a big market in terms of selling insurance products because Germans really like insurance in every regard. So there is huge market potential in Germany I think.”

Michael McFadgen, partner at Element Ventures, said: “As new industries and business models emerge, companies need much more flexible insurance propositions than what is currently being offered by traditional brokers. Hepster is the breakout company in the space, and their focus on embedded insurance will pay dividends in years to come.”

#berlin, #e-bike, #element-ventures, #europe, #germany, #insurance, #insurance-policies, #munich, #partner, #player, #seventure-partners, #tc

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Pandemic Insurance Helped the N.C.A.A. Tournament and Others

Event cancellation insurance is a specialized realm. But during the coronavirus pandemic, it has shored up the balance sheets of sporting events around the world.

#all-england-club, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #insurance, #major-league-baseball, #ncaa-baseball-championships, #ncaa-basketball-championships-men, #wimbledon-tennis-tournament

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Trump Taxes: Here’s What’s Next in the Manhattan D.A.’s Investigation

A Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for prosecutors to begin combing through Mr. Trump’s financial records.

#corporate-taxes, #deutsche-bank-ag, #federal-taxes-us, #income-tax, #insurance, #manhattan-nyc, #mazars-usa, #presidential-election-of-2020, #supreme-court-us, #trump-organization, #trump-tax-returns, #trump-donald-j, #trump-donald-j-jr, #trump-eric-f-1984, #trump-ivanka, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vance-cyrus-r-jr

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Oscar Health’s IPO filing will test the venture-backed insurance model

Late Friday, Oscar Health filed to go public, adding another company to today’s burgeoning IPO market. The New York-based health insurance unicorn has raised well north of $1 billion during its life, making its public debut a critical event for a host of investors.

Oscar Health lists a placeholder raise value of $100 million in its IPO filing, providing only directional guidance that its public offering will raise nine figures of capital.

Both Oscar and the high-profile SPAC for Clover Medical will prove to be a test for the venture capital industry’s faith in their ability to disrupt traditional healthcare companies.

The eight-year-old company, launched to capitalize on the sweeping health insurance reforms passed under the administration of President Barack Obama offers insurance products to individuals, families and small businesses. The company claimed 529,000 “members” as of January 31, 2021. Oscar Health touts that number as indicative of its success, with its growth since January 31 2017 “representing a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 59%.”

However, while Oscar has shown a strong ability to raise private funds and scale the revenues of its neoinsurance business, like many insurance-focused startups that TechCrunch has covered in recent years, it’s a deeply unprofitable enterprise.

Inside Oscar Health

To understand Oscar Health we have to dig a bit into insurance terminology, but it’ll be as painless as we can manage. So, how did the company perform in 2020? Here are its 2020 metrics, and their 2019 comps:

  • Total premiums earned: $1.67 billion (+61% from $1.04 billion).
  • Premiums ceded to reinsurers: $1.22 billion (+113%, from $572.3 million).
  • Net premium earned: $455 million (-3% from $468.9 million).
  • Total revenue: $462.8 million (-5% from $488.2 million).
  • Total insurance costs: $525.9 million (-8.7% from $576.1 million).
  • Total operating expenses: $865.1 million (+16% from $747.6 million).
  • Operating loss: $402.3 million (+56% from $259.4 million).

Let’s walk through the numbers together. Oscar Health did a great job raising its total premium volume in 2020, or, in simpler terms, it sold way more insurance last year than it did in 2019. But it also ceded a lot more premium to reinsurance companies in 2020 than it did in 2019. So what? Ceding premiums is contra-revenue, but can serve to boost overall insurance margins.

As we can see in the net premium earned line, Oscar’s totals fell in 2020 compared to 2019 thanks to greatly expanded premium ceding. Indeed, its total revenue fell in 2020 compared to 2019 thanks to that effort. But the premium ceding seems to be working for the company, as its total insurance costs (our addition of its claims line item and “other insurance costs” category) fell from 2020 to 2019, despite selling far more insurance last year.

Sadly, all that work did not mean that the company’s total operating expenses fell. They did not, rising 16% or so in 2020 compared to 2019. And as we all know, more operating costs and fewer revenues mean that operating losses rose, and they did.

Oscar Health’s net losses track closely to its operating losses, so we spared you more data. Now to better understand the basic economics of Oscar Health’s insurance business, let’s get our hands dirty.

#ec-consumer-health, #fundings-exits, #health-insurance, #insurance, #oscar-health, #startups, #tc

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TrustLayer raises $6M seed to become the ‘Carta for insurance’

TrustLayer, which provides insurance brokers with risk management services via a SaaS platform, has raised $6.6 million in a seed round.

Abstract Ventures led the financing, which also included participation from Propel Venture Partners, NFP Ventures, BoxGroup and Precursor Ventures. Interestingly, the startup also got some industry validation in the way of investors. Twenty of the top 100 insurance agencies in the U.S. (as well as some of their C-suite execs) put money in the round. Those agencies include Holmes Murphy, Heffernan and M3, among others.

BrokerTech Ventures (BTV), a group consisting of 13 tech-focused insurance agencies in the U.S. and 11 “top-tier” insurance companies, also invested in TrustLayer. The funding actually marked BTV’s first investment in a cohort member of its inaugural accelerator program. 

TrustLayer co-founder and CEO John Fohr said the company was founded on the premise that verification of insurance and business credentials is a major pain point for millions of businesses. The process takes time and is not always trustworthy, which can lead to money lost in the long run.

To help solve the problem, San Francisco-based TrustLayer has used robotic process automation (RPA) to build out what it describes as an automated and secure way for companies to verify insurance. It sells its software-as-a-service either through insurance brokers or directly to the companies themselves.

TrustLayer says that companies that use its platform can automate the verification of insurance, licenses, and compliance documents of business partners such as vendors, subcontractors, suppliers, borrowers, tenants, ride-sharing and franchisees. (By verification of insurance, we mean confirming that a company is actually insured and not just pretending to be.)

Recent traction includes companies working in the construction, property management, sports and hospitality industries. Insurance fraud is a real and expensive concern for companies working in those spaces, according to Fohr, who noted that the seed round was “heavily oversubscribed.”

TrustLayer’s long-term goal is to work with dozens of the largest brokers and carriers in the U.S. to build out a digital, real-time proof of insurance solution for businesses of all sizes, across all industries. 

“The best analogy to describe what we do is calling us the Carta for insurance,” Fohr told TechCrunch. “We’re automating a process that is hugely painful and manual to help our carrier and broker partners provide better services to their customers and help companies reduce risk and make sure their business partners  have the right coverage.”

David Mort, partner at Propel Venture Partners, said that nearly every business relationship requires one or both parties to prove they have the insurance required for engagement. 

TrustLayer comes in by “attacking a messy, data-rich, and unstructured problem within the insurance industry that is a major friction source for commerce.”

Mort appreciates that TrustLayer is tackling the problem not by becoming the insurance broker, but by working with the incumbents as a software solution.

Propel is no stranger to investing in fintech, having backed the likes of Coinbase, DocuSign, Guideline and Hippo. Mort acknowledges that much of the innovation in fintech has historically focused on the banking industry while the insurance industry has been slower to innovate.

“The most interesting opportunities we see are around modernizing legacy infrastructure, reducing friction, and improving the customer experience,” he told TechCrunch. “More generally, insurtech companies are well-positioned for this market environment, where recurring revenue (or policies in this case) is valued, and more people are at home shopping for digital financial services. The need for insurance is only increasing.”

Meanwhile, Ellen Willadsen, chief innovation officer at Holmes Murphy and executive sponsor of BrokerTech Ventures, noted that TrustLayer’s expanded digital proof of coverage software “is seeing high adoption” among member agencies.

TrustLayer will use its new capital to (naturally) some hiring of sales, marketing and engineering staff. It also plans to team up with The Institutes RiskStream Collaborative (considered to be one of the largest blockchain insurance consortiums in the U.S.) and insurance carriers to build out its digital proof of insurance offering.

Per a recent TechCrunch data analysis and some external data work on the insurtech venture capital market, it appears that private insurtech investment is matching the attention public investors are also giving the sector.

#abstract-ventures, #artificial-intelligence, #finance, #funding, #insurance, #insurance-broker, #insurance-fraud, #precursor-ventures, #propel-venture-partners, #startups, #tc

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MetroMile says a website bug let a hacker obtain driver’s license numbers

Car insurance startup MetroMile said it has fixed a security flaw on its website that allowed a hacker to obtain driver’s license numbers.

The San Francisco-based insurance startup disclosed the security breach in its latest 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

MetroMile said a bug in the quote form and application process on the company’s website allowed the hacker to “obtain personal information of certain individuals, including individuals’ driver’s license numbers.” It’s not clear exactly how the form allowed the hacker to obtain driver’s license numbers or how many individuals had their driver’s license numbers obtained.

The disclosure added: “Metromile immediately took steps to contain and remediate the issue, including by releasing software fixes, notified its insurance carrier, and has continued its ongoing operations. Metromile is working diligently with security experts and legal counsel to ascertain how the incident occurred, identify additional containment and remediation measures, and notify affected individuals, law enforcement, and regulatory bodies, as appropriate.”

Rick Chen, a spokesperson for MetroMile, said that the company has so far confirmed that driver’s license numbers were accessed, but that the “investigation is still ongoing.”

MetroMile has not disclosed the security incident on its website or its social channels. Chen said the company plans to notify affected individuals of the incident.

News of the security incident landed as the company confirmed a $50 million investment from former Uber executive Ryan Graves, who will also join the company’s board. It comes just weeks after the auto insurance startup announced it was planning to go public via a special-purpose acquisition company — or SPAC — in a $1.3 billion deal.

#articles, #automotive, #computer-security, #computing, #data-security, #driver, #executive, #insurance, #law-enforcement, #metromile, #ryan-graves, #san-francisco, #security, #security-breaches, #startup-company, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission, #uber

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LA-based Sidecar Health’s low-cost, cash-pay health insurance service is now valued at $1 billion

Meet Sidecar Health, the newest member of the tech industry’s billion dollar healthcare startup club.

The valuation comes thanks to $125 million in new funding that the company will use to expand its new model for health insurance. Sidecar Health’s insurance plans give consumers the ability to pay directly for care — often at steep discounts to the prices that patients would be charged through traditional insurance plans.

A typical Sidecar Health plan costs $240 per-member, per-month and its flexibility has made it a popular choice for the nation’s 20 million to 30 million uninsured individuals, according to chief executive officer Patrick Quigley.

The core of Sidecar’s plan is an ability to offer its policy holders the ability to pay directly for their medical care — and shop around to find the best provider using pricing information that the company provides through its mobile app.

Sidecar’s app provides real-time, geo-located information on the costs of any number of medical procedures, consultations, or drugs — and allows its users to shop at the places that offer them the best deal — in some cases the company will even pay money back if a price-savvy healthcare shopper finds a better deal.

If this all sounds kind of dystopian and nightmarish — well, welcome to the world of American healthcare!

In an ideal world, low-cost medical care would be a right, not a privilege and a baseline level of healthcare access would be available to everyone — including an ability to pay a set price for drugs, consultations and treatment. But if you live in America, bargain hunting for care may be the best bet to curb skyrocketing healthcare costs — at least for now.

While Sidecar pitches its service for everyone, the average age of the company’s current patient population is 33 years-old, Quigley said.  “It’s typically people that earn more than $45,000 a year and less than $75,000,” said Quigley of the company’s demographics.

The way it works is that Sidecar issues its insured members what’s basically a debit card that they use to pay for care, prescriptions, and consultations directly. The money comes from Sidecar’s claims accounts and is paid directly to doctors. By avoiding the middleman (traditional insurance companies), Sidecar can reduce overhead for care providers who like to get paid directly and will offer discounts in exchange for receiving cash in hand.

“It is 40% cheaper than the traditional commercial insurance companies would pay,” said Quigley.

Sidecar covers around 170,000 medical conditions and procedures, according to Quigley — including things from horse therapy (it’s a thing) for anxiety relief to heart transplants and chemotherapy, Quigley said.

Sidecar is currently available in 16 states and hopes to expand to most of the country on the back of its latest round of funding.

And while the company is working with uninsured patient populations now, it’s hoping to also expand its footprint with government-backed healthcare plans and into employer-sponsored health insurance as well.

It’s still early days for the service, which has only been around through two open enrollment periods for would-be plan members to sign up. And while the company doesn’t disclose its membership figures, Quigley said it would end the year above 30,000 members.

“It’s still super early,” Quigley said. 

Despite the stage of the business, investors are convinced that the business model has an opportunity to transform health insurance in the US. 

“The extraordinary level of transparency Sidecar Health brings to the marketplace has the  potential to fundamentally change how millions of Americans shop for healthcare,” said Molly  Bonakdarpour, a partner at the Drive Capital, which provided early backing for the company. “We think Sidecar Health’s team of consumer,  technology and healthcare veterans is well positioned to capitalize on the large healthcare  insurtech opportunity.” 

For the latest round, Drive Capital was joined by new investors including BOND, Tiger Global and Menlo Ventures, according to a statement.

Sidecar Health will use the investment to expand its geographic footprint, grow its team and  invest in new insurance products that build on its success in the uninsured market. The first of  these will be an ACA or “Obamacare” offering for 2022, followed by a product for the self funded employer market. 

“We believe we can take $1 trillion in waste out of the U.S. healthcare system,” Quigley said. 

#affordable-care-act, #america, #articles, #chief-executive-officer, #drive-capital, #health, #health-insurance, #healthcare, #insurance, #menlo-ventures, #partner, #sidecar, #tc, #tiger-global, #united-states

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Israel’s startup ecosystem powers ahead, amid a year of change

Released in 2011 “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” was a book that laid claim to the idea that Israel was an unusual type of country. It had produced and was poised to produce, an enormous number of technology startups, given its relatively small size. The moniker became so ubiquitous, both at home and abroad, that “Israel Startup Nation” is now the name of the country’s professional cycling team.

But it’s been hard to argue against this position in the last ten years, as the country powered ahead, famously producing ground-breaking startups like Waze, which was eventually picked up by Google for over $1 billion in 2013. Waze’s 100 employees received about $1.2 million on average, the largest payout to employees in Israeli high tech at the time, and the exit created a pool of new entrepreneurs and angel investors ever since.

Israel’s heady mix of questioning culture, tradition of national military service, higher education, the widespread use of English, appetite for risk and team spirit makes for a fertile place for fast-moving companies to appear.

And while Israel doesn’t have a Silicon Valley, it named its high-tech cluster “Silicon Wadi” (‘wadi’ means dry desert river bed in Arabic and colloquial Hebrew).

Much of Israel’s high-tech industry has emerged from former members of the country’s elite military intelligence units such as the Unit 8200 Intelligence division. From age 13 Israel’s students are exposed to advanced computing studies, and the cultural push to go into tech is strong. Traditional professions attract low salaries compared to software professionals.

Israel’s startups industry began emerging in the late 19080s and early 1990s. A significant event came with acquisitor by AOL of the the ICQ messaging system developed by Mirabilis. The Yozma Programme (Hebrew for “initiative”) from the government, in 1993, was seminal: It offered attractive tax incentives to foreign VCs in Israel and promised to double any investment with funds from the government. This came decades ahead of most western governments.

It wasn’t long before venture capital firms started up and major tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Samsung have R&D centers and accelerators located in the country.

So how are they doing?

At the start of 2020, Israeli startups and technology companies were looking back on a good 2019. Over the last decade, startup funding for Israeli entrepreneurs had increased by 400%. In 2019 there was a 30% increase in startup funding and a 102% increase in M&A activity. The country was experiencing a 6-year upward funding trend. And in 2019 Bay Area investors put $1.4 billion into Israeli companies.

By the end of last year, the annual Israeli Tech Review 2020 showed that Israeli tech firms had raised a record $9.93 billion in 2020, up 27% year on year, in 578 transactions – but M&A deals had plunged.

Israeli startups closed out December 2020 by raising $768 million in funding. In December 2018 that figure was $230 million, in 2019 it was just under $200 million.

Late-stage companies drew in $8.33 billion, from $6.51 billion in 2019, and there were 20 deals over $100 million totaling $3.26 billion, compared to 18 totaling $2.62 billion in 2019.

Top IPOs among startups were Lemonade, an AI-based insurance firm, on the New York Stock Exchange; and life sciences firm Nanox which raised $165 million on the Nasdaq.

The winners in 2020 were cybersecurity, fintech and internet of things, with food tech cooing on strong. But while the country has become famous for its cybersecurity startups, AI now accounts for nearly half of all investments into Israeli startups. That said, every sector is experiencing growth. Investors are also now favoring companies that speak to the Covid-era, such as cybersecurity, ecommerce and remote technologies for work and healthcare.

There are currently over 30 tech companies in Israel that are valued over $1 Billion. And four startups passed the $1 billion valuation just last year: mobile game developer Moon Active; Cato Networks, a cloud-based enterprise security platform; Ride-hailing app developer Gett got $100 million ahead of its rumored IPO; and behavioral biometrics startup BioCatch.

And there was a reminder that Israel can produce truly ‘magical’ tech: Tel Aviv battery storage firm StorDot raised money from Samsung Ventures and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for its battery which can fully charge a motor scooter in five minutes.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic put a break on mergers and acquisitions in 2020, as the world economy closed down.

M&A was just $7.8 billion in 93 deals, compared to over $14.2 billion in 143 M&A deals in 2019. RestAR was acquired by American giant Unity; CloudEssence was acquired by a U.S. cyber company; and Kenshoo acquired Signals Analytics.

And in 2020, Israeli companies made 121 funding deals on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and global capital markets, raising a total of $6.55 billion, compared to $1.95 billion raised in capital markets in Israel and abroad in 2019, as IPOs became an attractive exit alternative.

However, early-round investments (Seed + A Rounds) slowed due to pandemic uncertainty, but picked-up again towards the end of the year. As in other countries in ‘Covid 2020’, VC tended to focus on existing portfolio companies.

Covid brought unexpected upsides: Israeli startups, usually facing longs flight to Europe or the US to raise larger rounds of funding, suddenly found that Zoom was bringing investors to them.

Israeli startups adapted extremely well in the Covid era and that doesn’t look like changing. Startup Snapshot found that 55% startups profiled had changed (or considered changing) their product due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, remote-working – which comes naturally to Israeli entrepreneurs – is ‘flattening’ the world, giving a great advantage to normally distant startup ecosystems like Israel’s.

Via Transportation raised $400 million in Q1. Next Insurance raised $250 million in Q3. Seven exit transactions with over the $500 million mark happened in Q1–Q3/2020, compared to 10 for all of 2019. These included Checkmarx for $1.1 billion and Moovit, also for a billion.

There are three main hubs for the Israeli tech scene, in order of size: Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s economy and therefore startup scene suffered after the second Intifada (the Palestinian uprising that began in late September 2000 and ended around 2005). But today the city is far more stable, and is therefore attracting an increasing number of startups. And let’s not forget visual recognition company Mobileye, now worth $9.11 billion (£7 billion), came from Jerusalem.

Israel’s government is very supportive of it’s high-tech economy. When it noticed seed-stage startups were flagging, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) announced the launch of a new funding program to help seed-stage and early-stage startups, earmarking NIS 80 million ($25 million) for the project.

This will offer participating companies grants worth 40 percent of an investment round up to $1.1 million and 50 percent of a total investment round for startups in the country or whose founders come from under-represented communities – Arab-Israeli, ultra-Orthodox, and women – in the high-tech industry.

Investments in Israeli seed-stage startups decreased both absolutely and as a percentage of total investments in Israeli startups (to 6% from 11%). However, the decline may also be a function of large tech firms setting up incubation hubs to cut up and absorb talent.

Another notable aspect of Israel’s startups scene is its, sometimes halting, attempt to engage with its Arab Israeli population. Arab Israelis account for 20% of Israel’s population but are hugely underrepresented in the tech sector. The Hybrid Programme is designed to address this disparity.

It, and others like it, this are a reminder that Israel is geographically in the Middle East. Since the recent normalization pact between Israel and the UAE, relations with Arab states have begun to thaw. Indeed, Over 50,000 Israelis have visited the United Arab Emirates since the agreement.

In late November, Dubai-based DIFC FinTech Hive—the biggest financial innovation hub in the Middle East—signed a milestone agreement with Israel’s Fintech-Aviv. Both entities will now work together to facilitate the cross-border exchange of knowledge and business between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Perhaps it’s a sign that Israel is becoming more at ease with its place in the region? Certainly, both Israel’s tech scene and the Arab world’s is set to benefit from these more cordial relations.

Our Israel survey is here.

#app-developer, #artificial-intelligence, #biocatch, #business-incubators, #checkmarx, #computing, #dubai, #e-commerce, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #finance, #food-tech, #google, #healthcare, #insurance, #ipo, #israel, #jerusalem, #kenshoo, #lemonade, #microsoft, #middle-east, #mobile-game-developer, #mobileye, #money, #nanox, #ourcrowd, #private-equity, #roman-abramovich, #samsung-ventures, #startup-company, #tc, #technology, #tel-aviv, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states, #unity, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-firms, #waze

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Insurers Must Pay Businesses for Pandemic Claims, British Court Rules

Hundreds of thousands of insured businesses will be paid for lost earnings after the coronavirus lockdowns forced them to close, ending a long-running battle with insurance companies.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #financial-conduct-authority-great-britain, #great-britain, #insurance, #shutdowns-institutional, #small-business

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Home services platform Porch acquires four companies

Only a few weeks after its SPAC IPO, Porch today announced that it has made four acquisitions, worth a total of $122 million. The most important here is probably the acquisition of Homeowners of America for $100 million, which gets Porch deeper into the home insurance space. In addition, Porch is also acquiring mover marketing and data platform V12 for $22 million, as well as home inspection service Palm-Tech and iRoofing, a SaaS application for roofing contractors. Porch did not disclose the acquisition prices for the latter two companies.

You may still think of Porch as a marketplace for home improvement and repair services — and that’s what it started out as when it launched about seven years ago. Yet while it still offers those services, a couple of years after its 2013 launch, the company pivoted to building what it now calls a “vertical software platform for the home.” Through a number of acquisitions, the Porch Group now includes Porch.com, as well as services like HireAHelper, Inspection Support Network for home inspectors, Kandela for providing services around moving and an insurance broker in the form of the Elite Insurance Group. In some form or another, Porch’s tools are now used — either directly or indirectly — by two-thirds of U.S. homebuyers every month.

Porch founder and CEO Matt Ehrlichman. Image Credits: Porch

As Porch founder and CEO Matt Ehrlichman told me, he had originally planned to take his company public through a traditional IPO. He noted that going the increasingly popular SPAC route, though, allowed him to push his timeline up by a year, which in turn now enables the company to make the acquisitions it announced today.

“In total, we had a $323 million fundraise that allows us now to not only be a public company with public currency, but to be very well capitalized. And picking up that year allows us to be able to go and pursue acquisitions that we think make really good fits for Porch,” Ehrlichman told me. While Porch’s guidance for its 2021 revenue was previously $120 million, it’s now updating that guidance to $170 million based on these acquisitions. That would mean Porch would grow its revenue by about 134% year-over-year between 2020 and 2021.

As the company had previously laid out in its public documents, the plan for 2021 was always to get deeper into insurance. Indeed, as Ehrlichman noted, Porch these days tends to think of itself as a vertical software company that layers insurtech on top of its services in order to be able to create a recurring revenue stream. And because Porch offers such a wide range of services already, its customer acquisition costs are essentially zero for these services.

Image Credits: Homeowners of America

Porch was already a licensed insurance brokerage. With Homeowners of America, it is acquiring a company that is both an insurance carrier as well as a managing general agent..

“We’re able to capture all of the economic value from the consumer as we help them get insurance set up with their new home and we can really control that experience to delight them. As we wrap all the technology we’ve invested in around that experience we can make it super simple and instant to be able to get the right insurance at the right price for your new home. And because we have all of this data about the home that nobody else has — from the inspection we know if the roof is old, we know if the hot water system is gonna break soon and all the appliances — we know all of this data and so it just gives us a really big advantage in insurance.”

Data, indeed, is what a lot of these acquisitions are about. Because Porch knows so much about so many customers, it is able to provide the companies it acquires with access to relevant data, which in turn helps them offer additional services and make smarter decisions.

Homeowners of America is currently operating in six states (Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia) and licensed in 31. It has a network of more than 800 agencies so far and Porch expects to expand the company’s network and geographic reach in the coming months. “Because we have [customer acquisition cost]-free demand all across the country, one of the opportunities for us is simply just to expand that across the nation,” Ehrlichman explained.

As for V12, Porch’s focus is on that company’s mover marketing and data platform. The acquisition should help it reach its medium-term goal of building a $200 million revenue stream in this area. V12 offers services across multiple verticals, though, including in the automotive space, and will continue to do so. The platform’s overall focus is to help brands identify the right time to reach out to a given consumer — maybe before they decide to buy a new car or move. With Porch’s existing data layered on top of V12’s existing capabilities, the company expects that it will be able to expand these features and it will also allow Porch to not offer mover marketing but what Ehrlichman called “pro-mover” services, as well.

“V12 anchors what we call our marketing software division. A key focus of that is mover marketing. That’s where it’s going to have, long term, tremendous differentiation. But there are a number of other things that they’re working on that are going to have really nice growth vectors, and they’ll continue to push those,” said Ehrlichman.

As for the two smaller acquisitions of iRoofing and Palm-Tech, these are more akin to some of the previous acquisitions the company made in the contractor and inspection verticals. Like with those previous acquisitions, the plan is to help them grow faster, in part through integrating them into the overall Porch group’s family of products.

“Our business is and continues to be highly recurring or reoccurring in nature,” said Porch CFO Marty Heimbigner. “Nearly all of our revenues, including that of these new acquisitions, is consistent and predictable. This repeat revenue is also high margin with less than 20% cost of revenue and is expected to grow more than 30% per year on our platform. So, we believe these deals are highly accretive for our shareholders.”

#arizona, #contractor, #exit, #finance, #financial-services, #georgia, #ing-group, #insurance, #insurance-broker, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #north-carolina, #porch, #real-estate, #software, #software-platform, #south-carolina, #tc, #texas, #united-states, #virginia

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Struggling to get a Refund From Vail Resorts

A reader writes in, saying he can’t ski because he can’t get into the state. It’s a very 2020 — wait, 2021 — travel predicament.

#content-type-service, #insurance, #marriott-international-inc, #mid-atlantic-states-us, #okemo-mountain-vt, #rebates-and-refunds, #skiing, #vail-resorts-inc, #vermont

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U.S. Disaster Costs Doubled in 2020, Reflecting Costs of Climate Change

The $95 billion in damage came in a year marked by a record number of named Atlantic storms, as well as the largest wildfires recorded in California.

#disasters-and-emergencies, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #insurance, #munich-re, #wildfires

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Entrepreneurs say regulatory constraints are hampering commercial applications of space tech

When Payam Banazadeh and his team started Capella Space in 2016, they had visions of providing private industry with a wealth of new data that they could use in all sorts of ways to create business opportunities and improve efficiencies.

Four years later, Banazadeh is still waiting for that commercial opportunity.

Capella is still successful. The company has managed to raise $82 million in venture capital financing and has a robust pipeline of government contracts, but Banazadeh has not seen the kinds of uptake in private industry.

He’s not the only one.

Speaking at TC Sessions: Space 2020, Banazadeh was among a number of executives including Peter Platzer, the chief executive officer of Spire Global; Helsinki-based ICEYE’s co-founder and chief executive Rafal Modrzewski; and Melanie Stricklan, the founder and chief strategy officer of Slingshot Aerospace; who spoke about the central role government plays in the current space business and how they’re hoping that will change.

“I think regulation in the US… has made huge improvements this past year. But the challenge is always how do you balance national security concerns with making sure that the US industrial space can keep up with the competition internationally,” Banazadeh said. “I think we need to… in the US… we need to take a leadership position to not just restrict the US companies on following what international companies are doing, but rather allow US companies to go above and beyond and be able to capture more of the commercial market by being able to provide some of the more advanced features [that they have] on the government side.”

Modrzewski agreed.

“When we were starting ICEYE, we were kind of all under the impression that the idea behind new space and things that we are doing, is really to enable the use of observation for the betterment of the world… For improving efficiencies of businesses, monitoring climate change, doing all these things that that that we haven’t been able to do to do before,” he said. “And when I look at basically democratizing data and handing best capabilities available to commercial industries, as well as to the government, ultimately, right, because they are users of the same, the same supply chain. I see that you know, the largest factor that’s currently stopping the evolution is actually national approach to particular sets of activities. I think the the more globally we approach to the market, the broader the competition, the less limitation we impact… It seems to work significantly better for everyone as a global community, if we allow those companies to freely collaborate, and the data exchange to be free. So if there was one wish that I had for 2021, it is to have less borders, and more open markets in terms of exchange of data.”

Governments are, already, massive customers for most of these businesses. In total government spending represents around half of the total $423 billion spent on the space industry already, according to data from Statista.

But if the industry is to achieve the $1 trillion potential revenue that Morgan Stanley projects for businesses in the next 20 years, then more will have to be done to unlock private industry.

“When we started the company, we saw the immediate opportunity in commercial. And as we dug a little deeper and made some progress, we realized that the commercial market is still not as mature as we had hoped it to be. And in the meantime, we quickly found out that the government market, both US government, as well as international governments are expanding and growing much faster than, than before, specifically for this type of data, because of the new challenges and challenges and threats that are that are around the corner,” Banazadeh said. “And so we’ve pivoted and focused on going after governments in catering to their needs… We do want to get back into commercial, we have that aspiration. And that’s our long term goal. We just think that we’re probably a few years out to get there.”

While the commercial market may not have materialized to the degree that these entrepreneurs would have hoped, there are still opportunities for plenty of business from government contracts thanks, in part, to the increasing complexity of operating in space.

That means big business for company’s like Slingshot, which provides what Stricklan calls “situational awareness.”

“Whether that’s in orbit or terrestrially, we provide answers to our customers around their risk and and how to mitigate that risk, or at least how to understand the risk as it pertains to spatial-temporal information,” Stricklan said. “And so right now … their most important asset is their data [and] in order to get that data, they have to have their satellites in orbit, and they have to have safety of flight and all those different things.”

The exploding number of satellites in orbit and the presence of nearly 500,000 pieces of space debris means that operationally these very expensive assets are at greater risk than they were. Slingshot tries to solve that problem by giving its customers orbital awareness of potential risks, and providing ways to process data to understand the terrestrial risks that companies face.

Everyone from insurance companies to logistics providers to financial investors use satellite data and imagery in their decision making process and an increasing driver for all of these businesses is a chance to model out impacts from climate change, according to Platzer.

“I think I think the demand for a global understanding off the planet, to use its resources in an effective and responsible way, is unabated. You know, perspire in particular, you know, the impact of climate change through weather on every single business in every single country, for every single person is certainly not going away. And so that demand is is absolutely increasing,” Platzer said. “So I honestly actually see mostly, almost exclusively opportunities, and not necessarily obstacles, funding in the industry is growing at 46%. year over year. Company creation is growing at 32% year over year. So I think I think it’s really a very, very dynamic period, which is more dominated by opportunities than obstacles I would say.”

Increasingly, startups will be able to meet these opportunities, especially if they can receive a boost from government entities that can highlight the areas that are emerging business opportunities and leave it to private industry to pursue them, Modrzewski said.

Still, the panelists agreed that there’s no better time to start a company focused on the space industry than now.

“If I could encourage those that have any sort of inspiration to start a company around space to do it, just do it. Execute on that, that vision, but understand all of the, the things that we talked about today are different than the risk of say, starting a marketing company or those different things. So be up to the challenge to understand the government as part of this and understand rules and regulations, and outside the government that impact how we fly satellites, how we take care of satellites, how we provide data and understand that there’s a lot of legacy that comes with this industry,” Stricklan said. “I think the global space ecosystem is one that remains heavily siloed. It’s not like the digital transformations that have happened in Silicon Valley. Over the last 10 or 15 years. This industry still needs that digital transformation and so the the world is your oyster, but be prepared and be up for the challenge.”

#capella-space, #chief-executive-officer, #driver, #helsinki, #iceye, #industries, #insurance, #rafal-modrzewski, #slingshot, #spire-global, #tc, #tc-sessions-space-2020, #united-states, #uptake, #us-government, #venture-capital-financing

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Foresight raises $15M for its construction workers compensation platform

When an accident on a building site resulted in the death of their friend, the founders of Safesight were inspired to launch the platform to digitize safety programs for construction. The data from that gave birth to a new InsurTech startup this year, Foresight, which covers workers’ compensation. The startup has now released, for the first time, news that it raised a $15 million funding round back in May this year, with participation from Blackhorn Ventures and Transverse Insurance Group. To date, it has raised $20.5 million from industrial technology venture capital firms, led by Brick and Mortar Ventures and Builders VC.

Foresight launched in August of this year but has already covered $30M in risks. The company says it is now on pace to reach $50M in underwritten premium in 2021. By leveraging the data from sister company Safesite, the platform says it has been able to reduce workers comp incidents by up to 57% in a study conducted by actuarial consulting firm Perr & Knight.

Foresight’s algorithm leverages Safesight data to predict incidents, highlight risks, and informs underwriting. By wrapping Safesite risk management technology and services into every policy, Foresight provides a path to lower incident rates and lower premiums for customers.

Of the $57Bn national workers compensation market, Foresight focuses on policies ranging from $150K to $1M+ in annual premiums. The company says this segment has been largely overlooked by well-funded InsurTech startups such as Next Insurance and Pie, which provide small business policies under $50K in annual premiums.

Foresight and Safesite were developed by longtime friends and co-founders David Fontain, Peter Grant, and Leigh Appel.

Fontain said: “Foresight strengthens the correlation between safety and savings while providing the fast and easy user experience InsurTechs are known for. We leverage purpose-built technology to drive behavioral shifts and provide an irresistible alternative to traditional workers compensation coverage.”

Darren Bechtel, the founder and managing director at Brick & Mortar Ventures commented: “We first invested in 2016 and have known the founders since 2015 when it was just the two of them, squatting at a couple of empty desks inside another portfolio company’s office. Their initial vision was both elegant and powerful, and the demonstrated impact of their solution on safety performance, even in early interactions with the product, was impossible to ignore.”

Foresight now covers Nevada, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico. The company expects to launch workers compensation in the eastern US and a general liability line in early 2021.

#arizona, #arkansas, #articles, #blackhorn-ventures, #brick, #brick-mortar-ventures, #builders-vc, #darren-bechtel, #future, #insurance, #louisiana, #nevada, #new-mexico, #oklahoma, #tc, #time, #united-states

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‘Gas stations in space’ startup Orbit Fab extends seed round to $6M with strategic investor Munich Re

On-orbit servicing startup Orbit Fab, which bills itself as the company focused on creating “gas stations in space,” has added an additional investor to its seed funding round. The add-on investment comes from Munich Re Ventures (the corporate VC arm of Munich Re Group, one of the largest insurance companies in the world). Munich Re is a key provider of insurance for satellite operators in particular, offering policies that cover pre-launch, launch and on-orbit operations.

Orbit Fab, which was a finalist in our TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in 2019, has designed a system that consists of what are essentially in-space tugs that can guide spacecraft on-orbit to refueling depots, to which they connect with the company’s custom fueling interface. It’s designed to be relatively easy to incorporate into new satellite designs, providing a way to easily refuel in space without requiring any special robotic systems for capture and docking.

The goal of the startup is to help create a more sustainable orbital commercial operating environment, extending the life of spacecraft, reducing debris and saving companies money. Bringing on Munich Re Ventures should provide it with significant advantages in terms of being able to build more sustainable, long-lived operational spacecraft into launch and operation risk models for satellite operators.

“When we look at standing up a propellant supply chain, so much of it is the financial model,” Orbit Fab co-founder and CEO Daniel Faber told me in an interview. How do we use this to move our customers’ risk, to make sure that we’re moving capital expenditure to operational expenditure, and yet not introducing additional risk? [Munich Re] is all over it in terms of financial products and insurance and risk assessment, so that’s a great partnership.”

Faber went on to explain that Munich Re Ventures Timur Davis began to show up at more and more space conferences, and Faber began to chat with him at these events. It turned out that the venture firm was putting together an investment thesis around in-space servicing and infrastructure, and Orbit Fab eventually became the first investment on the back of that new thesis.

The new investment brings Orbit Fab’s total seed raise to $6 million, including between $2 to $3 million in government funding on top of VC funds. The company has also now conceived and researched a “self-driving satellite” kit for docking that it has received National Science Foundation funding to do preliminary requirements development, and it’s now at the point where it can begin designing and building that out. 2021 looks to be a big year for many new companies in the space industry, and Orbit Fab with its new approach to sustainable, scalable satellites operations is definitely among them.

#aerospace, #daniel-faber, #insurance, #national-science-foundation, #orbit-fab, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #recent-funding, #satellite, #science, #space, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #startups, #tc, #tc-sessions-space-2020

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Manhattan D.A. Intensifies Investigation of Trump

Prosecutors have recently interviewed employees of President Trump’s lender and insurance brokerage, in the latest indication that he still faces the potential threat of criminal charges once he leaves office.

#aon-corp, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #cohen-michael-d-1966, #corporate-taxes, #deutsche-bank-ag, #family-business, #income-tax, #insurance, #manhattan-nyc, #mazars-usa, #presidential-election-of-2020, #supreme-court-us, #trump-organization, #trump-tax-returns, #trump-donald-j, #trump-ivanka, #ttt-consulting-llc, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vance-cyrus-r-jr

0

A Race Against Time to Rescue a Reef From Climate Change

In an unusual experiment, a coral reef in Mexico is now insured against hurricanes. A team of locals known as “the Brigade” rushed to repair the devastated corals, piece by piece.

#environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hurricane-zeta-2020, #insurance, #mexico, #reefs

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As Metromile looks to go public, insurtech funding is on the rise

Earlier this week, TechCrunch covered the latest venture round for AgentSync, a startup that helps insurance agents comply with rules and regulations. But while the product area might not keep you up tonight, the company’s growth has been incredibly impressive, scaling its annual recurring revenue (ARR) 10x in the last year and 4x since the start of the pandemic.

Little surprise, then, that the company’s latest venture deal was raised just months after its last; investors wanted to get more money into AgentSync rapidly, boosting a larger venture-wide wager on insurtech startups more broadly that we’ve seen throughout 2020.


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But private investors aren’t the only ones getting in on the action. Public investors welcomed the Lemonade IPO earlier this year, giving the rental insurance unicorn a strong debut. Root also went public, but has lost around half of its value after a strong pricing run, comparing recent highs with its current price.

But with one success and one struggle for the sector on the scoreboard this year, Metromile is also looking to get in on the action. And, per a TechCrunch data analysis this morning and some external data work on the insurtech venture capital market, it appears that private insurtech investment is matching the attention public investors are also giving the sector.

This morning let’s do a quick exploration of the Metromile deal and take a look at the insurtech venture capital market to better understand how much capital is going into the next generation of companies that will want to replicate the public exits of our three insurtech pioneers.

Finally, we’ll link public results and recent private deal activity to see if both sides of the market are currently aligned.

Metromile

Let’s start with Metromile’s debut. It’s going public via a SPAC, namely INSU Acquisition Corp. II. Here’s the equivalent of an S-1 from both parties, going over the economics of the blank-check company and Metromile itself.

On the economics front for the insurtech startup, we have to start with some extra work. During nearly every 2020 IPO we’ve spent lots of time examining how quickly the company in question is growing. We’re not doing that today because Metromile is not growing in GAAP terms and we need to understand why that’s the case.

In simple terms, a change to Metromile’s reinsurance setup last May led to the company ceding “a larger percentage of [its] premium than in prior periods,” which resulted “in a significant decrease in our revenues as reported under GAAP,” the company said.

Ceded premiums don’t count as revenue. Lemonade, in its recent earnings results, explained the concept well from the perspective of its own, related change to its business:

While our July 1, 2020 reinsurance contracts deliver a significant improvement in the fundamentals of our business, they also result in a significant change in GAAP revenue, as GAAP excludes all ceded premiums (and proportional reinsurance is fundamentally about ceding premium). This led to a spike in GAAP gross margin and a dip in GAAP revenue on July 1 – even though no corresponding change in the scope or profitability of our business took place at midnight on June 30.

So Lemonade has shaken up its business, cutting its revenues and tidying its economics. The impact has been sharp, with the company’s GAAP revenues falling from $17.8 million in the year-ago quarter, to $10.5 million in Q3 2020.

Root has undertaken similar steps. Starting July 1, it has “transfer[ed] 70% of our premiums and related losses to reinsurers, while also gaining a 25% commission on written premium to offset some of our up-front and ongoing costs.” The result has been falling GAAP revenue and improving economics once again.

All neo-insurance companies that have provided financial results while going public have changed their reinsurance approach, making their results look a bit wonky in the short term, leaving investors to decipher what they are really worth.

#insurance, #insurtech, #lemonade, #metromile, #root, #spac, #tc

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Travel Insurance During Coronavirus Pandemic: What To Know

A spate of new travel insurance policies have begun covering Covid-19, just as many international destinations begin to require it. Here’s what to look for.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #insurance, #travel-and-vacations

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Index ventures into Latin America to back Sofia, a Mexico City-based telemedicine and health insurer

Arturo Sanchez and his co-founders have spent the past two years developing the telemedicine and insurance platform, Sofia, as a way to give customers across Mexico better access to quality healthcare through their insurance plan.

Along with his co-founders, Sebastian Jimenez, a former Google employee who serves as the company’s chief product officer, and Manuel Andere an ex-Patreon employee who’s now Sofia’s chief technology officer, Sanchez  (a former Index Ventures employee) is on a path to provide low-cost insurance for middle class consumers across Latin America, starting in Mexico City.

Backing that vision are a clutch of regional and international investors including Kaszek Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Index Ventures. When Index Ventures came in to lead the company’s $19 million round earlier this year, it was the first commitment that the venture firm had made in Latin America, but given the strength of the market, it likely won’t be their last.

In Sofia, Index has found a good foothold from which to expand its activity. The company which initially started as a telemedicine platform recently received approvals to operate as an insurer as well — part of a long-term vision for growth where it provides a full service health platform for customers.

Founded by three college friends who graduated from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (Mexico’s version of MIT), the company initially launched with COVID-19 related telemedicine service as the pandemic took hold in Mexico.

That service was a placeholder for what Sanchez said was the broader company vision. And while that product alone had 10,000 users signed up for it, the new vision is broader.

“We registered as an insurance company because we want to go deeper into people’s health. We have built a telemedicine solution, which is a core component of the product. The goal is to be an integrated provider that provide primary care and handles more significant types of illnesses,” said Sanchez.

The company already has a core group of 100 physicians in Mexico City and initially will be serving the city with 70 different specialist areas.

All the virtual consultations are covered without an additional payment and in-person or specialty consultations come at a 30% reduced rate to an out-of-pocket payment, according to Sanchez.

Fees depend on age and gender, but Sanchez said a customer would typically pay around $500 per-year or roughly between $40 and $50 per-month.

The company covers 70% of the cost of most treatments that’s capped at $2,000 per-year and coverage maxes out at $75,000. “In Mexico that covers north of 98% of all illnesses or treatment episodes,” said Sanchez.

In Mexico, insurance is even less common than in the US.

90% of private health spend happens out of pocket. The problem that we’re trying to solve is for these people that are already spending money on healthcare but doing it in an unpredictable and risky way,” said Sanchez. “They buy [our service] and they have access to great quality healthcare that they buy it and it’s a significant step up from what they’ve been living with.”

 

#articles, #chief-technology-officer, #google, #heal, #healthcare, #insurance, #kaszek-ventures, #latin-america, #mexico, #mexico-city, #mit, #ribbit-capital, #science-and-technology, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states

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California Bars Insurers From Dropping Policies in Wildfire Areas

The new one-year freeze is a sign of the growing financial burden caused by climate change.

#california, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #insurance, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #wildfires

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UK’s Marshmallow raises $30M on a $310M valuation for more ‘inclusive’ car insurance

When it comes to using algorithms and other formulae to determine what kinds of services you might offer to specific customers and at what price, the insurance industry is one of the oldest in the book. But that legacy position masks the fact that some of its determinations might leave a lot to be desired, with customers who don’t fit typical profiles unable to get competitive rates.

Now, a UK startup called Marshmallow that’s aiming to take on those larger legacy insurance giants with a new approach to determining risk is announcing a $30 million round of funding. Starting first with car insurance, Marshmallow uses a wider set of analytics to target underserved segments of the market, and it plans to use the Series A funding to continue expanding its business with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, with the plan being to launch in further countries, and more types of insurance, in the next 18 months.

We understand that the company is now valued at around $310 million with this round.

The company is not disclosing the names of people in this latest round, except to say that one is a prominent fintech backer and the other a large financial institution. PitchBook notes that Outrun Ventures and other unnamed investors are in this round. Previous backers were Passion Capital and Investec.

Marshmallow first came out of the wild in 2018 with a product targeted initially at expats. The logic was that UK insurers typically assess a driver’s UK record when determining premiums, but that means if you are an adult who has moved to the UK from abroad, your history (for better or worse) doesn’t come with you. Marshmallow’s solution was to build an assessment algorithm that incorporated global, not just national, data.

“Car insurance typically requires an insurer to understand a person’s driving ability, driving history and current lifestyle before they can offer them an accurate price,” Oliver Kent-Braham, the co-founder and CEO, said to TechCrunch at the time. “Unfortunately, a lot of insurers don’t attempt to understand foreign drivers living in the U.K., instead they just overcharge them. U.K.-based, foreign drivers can expect to be quoted prices that are 51 percent higher than the market average.”

Now it has widened that remit to those who cover a wider range of ages but don’t have consistent records in the UK.

“We still provide car insurance to expats, but we now also offer insurance to people between the age of 21-50 with a focus on providing a great price and experience for people who have a fragmented address and credit history, and less affluent people with lower credit scores,” he said to us today. “Both these customer groups get charged more by the traditional insurance industry.”

Kent-Braham may understand a thing or two about being outside of the norm. He co-founded the company with his twin brother Alexander, and both are black — a rarity in the world of tech in the western world. In the US, it is estimated that less than 1% of founders are black, and the figures for founders of color are equally appalling in Europe. (David Goate is the third co-founder.)

Indeed, Marshmallow’s rise — both as a story about its minority founders and its own focus on serving underserved segments of society — comes at a timely moment.

One big focus in tech year has very much been about how to build more diversity and inclusion into the industry. Spurred by a wave of social unrest resulting from several incidents where black individuals were killed by police in the US, that in turn raised more questions about how best to address the massive economic and social divides globally.

In the world of tech, it’s long been understood that having more diversity in the make-up of the companies involved is critical to addressing wider audiences and their needs better. In that context, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s taken an insurance startup led by two black men to identify and try to build products for a wider group of users.

“We have the tools to offer insurance to customers that traditional insurers struggle with,” said Alexander in a statement. Tim Holliday, a founding employee who is now the chairman, has been integral also to understanding what the company can use tech to tackle in terms of incumbency: he has a longstanding record as an executive in the industry.

Perhaps in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge amount of uncertainty we’ve seen around the global, Insuretech has seen a big focus in the last year.

In addition to the public listing of Lemonade (which now has a market cap of over $2.8 billion), Hippo had a big boost in its valuation, and we have seen the rise also of a number of companies rethinking the insurance model, both in terms of who is targeted, and how it is modelled. BIMA and Waterdrop respectively looking at microinsurance for emerging markets, and the idea of crowdfunding insurance services.

#europe, #finance, #funding, #insurance, #marshmallow

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Mental health startup eQuoo will be distributed by Unilever in new global youth campaign

Last December (yes, in the before-times) UK-based mental health startup eQuoo had a round of announcements, becoming the NHS approved mental health game, as well as signing Barmer, the largest insurance company in Germany, as a client.

It’s now been selected as the Mental Health App for Unilever’s new global initiative aimed at the mental health of young people. The move came after Unilever’s People Data Centre (PDC) selected eQuoo out of all the mental health games on the Google Playstore, being, as it is, one of the few backed by scientific research. Unilever’s new brand campaign, which will feature eQuoo app – will be marketed to over 70,000 18 to 35-year olds.

“eQuoo teaches important skills in a fun and engaging way,” said Unilever’s Global PDC Search and Social Analyst, Janelle Tomayo. “The game teaches you how to become a better communicator using fictional characters to navigate through difficult circumstances with skills and storylines empirically based on current psychological research.”

Silja Litvin, founder and CEO of eQuoo said: “1 in 3 young adults experience an anxiety disorder, crippling and harming too many people at the cusp of their adult lives. Together eQuoo and Unilever will equip thousands of people with the personal resilience to manage the pressures of today’s world.”

PsycApps, which makes eQuoo, is a Digital Mental Health startup that is using gamification, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology and AI to treat mental illness, using evidence-based features. It’s achieved a top rating at ORCHA, the leading health app assessment platform and is also available through the GP EMIS data bank, meaning that NHS doctors can now refer their patients to eQuoo to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The market for mental health-oriented games and apps is increasing considerably. AKILI, the first ADHD game for children, attained FDA approval. In June, the European Medicines Agency approved Akili’s digital therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which uses a video game to treat the underlying cause of the condition. The European Commission has granted a CE mark for the game called EndeavorRx, allowing the product to be marketed in Europe.

#apps, #articles, #artificial-intelligence, #ceo, #cognitive-behavioral-therapy, #equoo, #europe, #european-commission, #fda, #germany, #google, #insurance, #mental-health, #mental-illness, #nhs, #psychology, #silja-litvin, #tc

0

Skydio partners with EagleView for autonomous residential roof inspections via drone

Skydio only just recently announced its expansion into the enterprise and commercial market with hardware and software tools for its autonomous drone technology, and now it’s taking the lid off a brand new big partnership with one commercial partner. Skydio will work with EagleView to deploy automated residential roof inspection using Skydio drones, with service initially provide via EagleView’s Assess product, launching first in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of Texas.

The plan is to expand coverage to additional metro areas starting next year, and then broaden to rural customers as well. The partners will use AI-based analysis, paired with Skydio’s high-resolution, precision imaging to provide roofing status information to insurance companies, claims adjustment companies and government agencies, providing a new level of quality and accuracy for property inspections that don’t even require an in-person roof inspection component.

Skydio announced its enterprise product expansion in July, alongside a new $100 million funding round. The startup, which has already delivered two generations of its groundbreaking fully autonomous consumer drone, also debuted the X2, a commercial drone that includes additional features like a thermal imaging camera. It’s also offering a suite of “enterprise skills,” software features that can provide its partners with automated workflows and AI analysis and processing, including a House Scan feature for residential roof inspection, which is core to this new partnership.

#articles, #business, #dallas, #drones, #emerging-technologies, #enterprise, #hardware, #inspection, #insurance, #robotics, #skydio, #tc, #texas, #workflow

0

EasySend raises $16M from Intel, more for its no-code approach to automating B2C interfaces

No-code and low-code software have become increasingly popular ways for companies — especially those that don’t count technology as part of their DNA — to bring in more updated IT processes without the heavy lifting needed to build and integrate services from the ground up.

As a mark of that trend, today, a company that has taken this approach to speeding up customer experience is announcing some funding. EasySend, an Israeli startup which has built a no-code platform for insurance companies and other regulated businesses to build out forms and other interfaces to take in customer information and subsequently use AI systems to process it more efficiently, is announcing that it has raised $16 million.

The funding has actually come in two tranches, a $5 million seed round from Vertex Ventures and Menora Insurance that it never disclosed, and another $11 million round that closed more recently, led by Hanaco with participation from Intel Capital. The company is already generating revenue, and did so from the start, enough that it was actually bootstrapped for the first three years of its life.

Tal Daskal, EasySend’s CEO and co-founder, said that the funding being announced today will be used to help it expand into more verticals: up to now its primary target has been insurance companies, although organically it’s picked up customers from a number of other verticals, such as telecoms carriers, banks and more.

The plan will be now to hone in on specifically marketing to and building solutions for the financial services sector, as well as hiring and expanding in Asia, Europe and the US.

Longer term, he said, that another area EasySend might like to look at more in the future is robotic process automation (RPA). RPA, and companies that deal in it like UIPath, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism, is today focused on the back office, and EasySend’s focus on the “front office” integrates with leaders in that area. But over time, it would make sense for EasySend to cover this in a more holistic way, he added.

Menora was a strategic backer: it’s one of the largest insurance providers in Israel, Daskal said, and it used EasySend to build out better ways for consumers to submit data for claims and apply for insurance.

Intel, he said, is also strategic although how is still being worked out: what’s notable to mention here is that Intel has been building out a huge autonomous driving business in Israel, anchored by MobileEye, and not only will insurance (and overall risk management) play a big part in how that business develops, but longer term you can see how there will be a need for a lot of seamless customer interactions (and form filling) between would-be car owners, operators, and passengers in order for services to operate more efficiently.

“Intel Capital chose to invest in EasySend because of its intelligent and impactful approach to accelerating digital transformation to improve customer experiences,” said Nick Washburn, senior managing director, Intel Capital, in a statement. “EasySend’s no-code platform utilizes AI to digitize thousands of forms quickly and easily, reducing development time from months to days, and transforming customer journeys that have been paper-based, inefficient and frustrating. In today’s world, this is more critical than ever before.”

The rise and persistence of Covid-19 globally has had a big, multi-faceted impact how we all do business, and two of those ways have fed directly into the growth of EasySend.

First, the move to remote working has given organizations a giant fillip to work on digital transformation, refreshing and replacing legacy systems with processes that work faster and rely on newer technologies.

Second, consumers have really reassessed their use of insurance services, specifically health and home policies, respectively to make sure they are better equipped in the event of a Covid-19-precipitated scare, and to make sure that they are adequately covered for how they now use their homes all hours of the day.

EasySend’s platform for building and running interfaces for customer experience fall directly into the kinds of apps and services that are being identified and updated, precisely at a time when its initial target customers, insurers, are seeing a surge in business. It’s that “perfect storm” of circumstances that the startup wouldn’t have wished on the world, but which has definitely helped it along.

While there are a lot of companies on the market today that help organizations automate and run their customer interaction processes, the Daskal said that EasySend’s focus on using AI to process information is what makes the startup more unique, as it can be used not just to run things, but to help improve how things work.

It’s not just about taking in character recognition and organizing data, it’s “understanding the business logic,” he said. “We have a lot of data and we can understand [for example] where customers left the process [when filling out forms]. We can give insights into how to increase the conversion rates.”

It’s that balance of providing tools to do business better today, as well as to focus on how to build more business for tomorrow, that has caught the eye of investors.

“Hanaco is firmly invested in building a digital future. By bridging the gap between manual processes and digitization, EasySend is making this not only possible, but also easy, affordable, and practical,” said Hanaco founding partner Alon Lifshitz, in a statement.

#ai, #artificial-intelligence, #easysend, #enterprise, #forms, #insurance, #insurtech, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc

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Building a white label tool for telemedicine services nabs OnCall Health $6 million

As medical providers across the world turn to digital delivery of consultations and services, OnCall Health a Toronto-based provider of back-end services for telemedicine is having a moment.

The company, which competes with services like Truepill to offer physicians, pharmacies and other potential point of care services a way to consult online, has grown exceptionally quickly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OnCall Health’s services include the ability to schedule a video or text appointment with a physician, hosting those video consultations on its secured servers, and the integration of back end billing systems so physicians can get paid.

Services like OnCall and TruePill’s have increased exponentially since the advent of lockdown orders put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In a sign of how hungry investors are for these kinds of deals, Truepill just raised $75 million to expand its own health services offerings.

“Since COVID-19, telemedicine has shifted from a nice-to-have revenue source for primary care, mental health, and home care and chronic conditions to a need-to-have,” said Base10 Partners principal Chris Zeoli, who led the investment into OnCall.

Joining Base10 in its $6 million investment into OnCall were several existing investors from the company’s $2 million seed round, including Ripple Ventures, Panache Ventures, and Stout Street Capital.

The bulk of the company’s customers come from small and medium-sized physician’s practices, according to Zeoli. Roughly 500 of the company’s existing customers consist of offices with less than ten practicing doctors.

Capturing this long tail is important because it actually represents a huge proportion of healthcare providers.

“OnCall provides everything that healthcare brands like pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and direct to consumer digital health startups need to get into the space and launch their own virtual care programs, often for the first time,” said Nicholas Chepesiuk, founder and CEO of OnCall Health. “Meanwhile, we are well positioned to help conventional healthcare clinics and systems adopt virtual care technology in the context of their operational processes. In the past year we have been able to roll out our technology with two global insurance companies, several leading pharmaceutical brands, and many rapidly growing digital health startups.”

OnCall now has over 30 employees and supports 7,000 primary care, mental health, and paramedical service providers across North America.

#articles, #base10-partners, #ceo, #digital-health, #insurance, #north-america, #pharmaceutical, #physician, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #toronto

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Buying Wedding Insurance During the Pandemic

Some insurance carriers have made changes to their coverage since the coronavirus outbreak began.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #insurance, #weddings-and-engagements

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Closing on $75 million in new cash, Truepill plans at-home testing service as it nears $175 million in annual revenue

Truepill, the white-label healthcare services company that provides telehealth and pharmacy fulfillment services, is adding at-home medical testing as the third branch of its services powering the offerings of companies like Hims and Hers, Ro, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies. 

Financing this expansion of services is a new $75 million round of financing from investors led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Optum Ventures, TI Platform Management, Sound Ventures and Y Combinator.

“With the change in reimbursement for telemedicine, it changed the trajectory of the direct to consumer companies,” said Annie Lamot, the co-founder and managing director of new lead investors Oak HC/FT. “When we talked to every one of them they all seemed to be using Truepill .”

With its expansion into lab testing, Truepill can provide a full suite of services that used to be confined to the doctor’s office remotely. As more patients adjust to remote delivery of care, these kinds of options will become more attractive.

The move to telemedicine isn’t just something for new entrants either. Incumbents are also finding that they need to provide the same care as their direct to consumer competition, especially as the priority shifts to value-based care rather than fees for services on the reimbursement side — and consumers start demanding lower cost options on the direct pay side.

“I think it enables health plans to provide better care in targeted programs,” said Lamont, a longtime investor in healthcare.

Truepill’s executives certainly hope so.

The two co-founders, Umar Afridi and Sid Viswanathan met over LinkedIn where Viswanathan cold-emailed Afridi. At the time, Afridi was working as a pharmacist filling prescriptions at a Fred Meyer near Seattle).

Initially, Truepill’s growth came from acting as the pharmacist to companies like Hims, Ro, Nurx, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies focused on serving the elective health needs of people who wanted hair loss treatments, erectile dysfunction medication, and birth control.

Image Credits: Truepill

As the company has grown, so have its ambitions. By the end of the year, Truepill expects to book up to $175 million in revenue, according to Viswanathan, and that revenue will come from a more evenly distributed mix of customers among direct to consumer companies, insurance companies, and healthcare providers.

“Everything we do is white labeled from our pharmacy to the lab testing component. You can go to teladoc and use that service. What we like to think early. 80 percent of healthcare is going to happen on a digital channel.. We’re in a perfect position to build the platform company in that space,” Viswanathan said. 

At-home testing is a critical component of that platform. Expected to launch before the end of the year, Truepill is working with lab testing providers to offer hundreds of at-home tests. The company said it will focus on tests to manage chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease. Incidentally these are areas which have attracted a lot of interest from investors who are backing companies that provide direct to consumer or digital therapeutic solutions to treat or help address these conditions.

“To create a comprehensive, effective digital healthcare experience, there are three essential pillars: pharmacy with extensive insurance coverage, at-home lab testing and telehealth,” said Viswanathan, in a statement. “By adding diagnostics to our suite of solutions, we’ll be able to deliver direct-to-patient healthcare at scale through one platform – Truepill. We envision a future where 80% of healthcare is digital. With diagnostics, telehealth and pharmacy built on our foundation of API-connected infrastructure, Truepill will power that reality.” 

#articles, #birth-control, #diabetes, #erectile-dysfunction, #heal, #healthcare, #hims, #insurance, #lamont, #linkedin, #nurx, #optum-ventures, #pharmacy, #ro, #seattle, #sound-ventures, #tc, #teladoc-health, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #truepill, #y-combinator

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BIMA nabs $30M more for micro- health and life insurance aimed at emerging markets

The coronavirus global health pandemic — and the new emphasis on social distancing to slow down the spread of COVID-19 — has put healthcare and tech services used to enable healthcare remotely under the spotlight. Today a startup that’s building microinsurance and healthcare services specifically targeting emerging markets is announcing a round of funding to meet a surge in demand for its services.

BIMA, a startup that provides life and health insurance policies, along with telemedicine to support the latter, all via a mobile-first platform targeting consumers in emerging markets whose primary entry point to online services is via phones, not computers, is today announcing that it has raised $30 million in funding, a growth round that the Stockholm/London-based startup plans to use to double down on its health services in the wake increased demand around COVID-19.

The company currently provides telemedicine as a service connected to its health insurance, and it has expanded to include health programs for managing illnesses and offering discounts for pharmacies, and the plan seems to be to bring more services into the mix.

This is the same approach we’re seeing from other insurance startups targeting emerging economies, including China’s Waterdrop, which recently raised $230 million. Looking at the network of services Waterdrop is building, including crowdfunding, gives you an idea of what else BIMA might potentially look to add in, too.

The round is being led by a new investor — China’s CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund (CEFIF) — with previous backers LeapFrog Investments and insurance giant Allianz (who were in BIMA’s previous, $97 million round) also participating.

The startup is not disclosing its valuation this time around, but in its previous round the company was valued at $300 million, and it has grown considerably since then.

BIMA has now clocked up 2 million tele-doctor consultations and has some 35 million insurance and health policies on its books, growing its customer base by some 11 million people in the last two years. It’s now active in 10 countries — Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal in Africa; and Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka across Asia.

At a time when we have seen a number of insure tech startups emerge in the US and Europe — with some, like Lemonade, growing into publicly-listed companies — BIMA is very notable in part because of who it targets.

It’s not higher economic brackets, or necessarily segments with disposable income, or those in developed markets with stable economies. Rather, its focus is, in its words, underserved families that typically live on less than $10 per day and are at high risk of illness or injury, with 75% of its customers accessing insurance services for the very first time, BIMA notes.

“Telemedicine and insurance are needed more than ever and COVID accelerated awareness and acceptance for these types of products amongst emerging consumers and government. They’ve gone from ‘nice to have’ to a necessity,” said Mathilda Strom, who co-founded the company with CEO Gustaf Agartson, in an interview. “Utilisation nearly doubled in our telemedicine services.” BIMA covers COVID and pandemics in general in its policies, she added. “We have paid out COVID-related claims to families of people who suffered or passed away from the illness.”

It’s also working with health authorities that have been overwhelmed in the pandemic. Pakistani government and Indonesian government now use BIMA to off-load their health services by providing teledoctor consultations or doctors chats to customers.

Aiming at developing economies where middle classes are still only materialising, currencies are potentially unstable, and there is still a lack of infrastructure means that BIMA is contending with a combination of factors that makes the bar high for entry, but it’s also potentially more rewarding because of the lack of competition and tapping a demand that is still rapidly growing.

“The onset of COVID-19 has brought home the value of telemedicine, to help prevent the spread of disease, and the importance of insurance, for peace of mind,” said Agartson in a statement.

“Through digital solutions, and a human touch, we’ve been able to serve hard to reach communities with tools and services that bring them a sense of security at such a challenging time. The funds we have raised will allow us to expand our operations and further invest in our product offering that will help us scale quickly to meet the unprecedented demand for our services.”

It’s interesting to see CreditEase, a Chinese investor, as part of this round: the idea of all-in, full service health services companies banked around the insurance proposition has been one cultivated in the Chinese market. But even with the development of HMOs in the US, it’s interesting that there have been relatively few startups around the world trying to develop similar models. BIMA stands out in part because of that.

“We are very impressed by BIMA’s innovative integration of micro insurance and tele-doctor services, which provide critical coverage to meet large unmet demand in emerging markets, and whose value is accentuated further by the current pandemic,” said Dennis Cong, managing partner at CEFIF, in a statement. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to join this meaningful journey, along with the established leading shareholders, and support the company to grow its business and expand its leadership position in its served markets.”

“The market that BIMA is serving is vast and demand for health services is tremendous,” added Stewart Langdon, a partner at LeapFrog Investments. “BIMA’s unique digital capabilities empower emerging market consumers to access many health and insurance services on a single, easy to use platform. That includes protection for millions of first-time buyers of insurance who would otherwise remain unprotected and at risk.”

“We are happy to continue our partnership with BIMA and jointly deliver telemedicine and remote healthcare services in developing markets,” said Nazim Cetin, CEO at Allianz X, in a statement. “We believe the demand for these services will continue to increase and want to manifest BIMA’s leading position in the market by providing support with our experience and network.”

#bima, #covid-19, #emerging-markets, #health, #health-insurance, #insurance, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc

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Wildfires Hasten Another Climate Crisis: Homeowners Who Can’t Get Insurance

Insurers, facing huge losses, have been pulling back from fire-prone areas across California. “The marketplace has largely collapsed,” an advocate for counties in the state said.

#california, #consumer-protection, #disasters-and-emergencies, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #insurance, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #wildfires

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Mulberry, the warranty service for direct to consumer brands, approaches $10 million ARR

In the two years since Chinedu Eleanya founded Mulberry to be the warranty service for direct-to-consumer brands, business has boomed. 

Already riding a shakeup in consumer behavior brought by the emergence of startup brands selling just about everything to just about everyone, Mulberry brought a much-needed new spin on the warranty service that retailers had depended on for years to make consumers comfortable with big ticket purchases. Now the company is on its way to $10 million in ARR for 2020, thanks in no small part to the new shift to online shopping.

That’s why investors were wiling to invest $10 million into the company back in March before the pandemic hit. The round was led by the early stage New York-based investment firm, Pace Capital and included returning investors like Founder Collective.

Then the pandemic did hit. With COVID-19 pushing more shoppers (at least the ones that still have money to shop) out of stores and online, the need for warranty services has just ballooned, according to Eleanya.

A serial entrepreneur who moved from Nigeria to New York City and founded companies including Cognical and Zibby, Eleanya has found success with Mulberry and its online model.

To be sure, the company isn’t the only startup working in the e-commerce warranty space. There’s also, Clyde, which raised $14 million around the same time to offer similar services.

But the market for these kinds of online services is still growing rapidly, and Eleanya thinks there’s space fora few winners. “When you think of point of sale financial innovation, the extended warranty space is the most interesting,” he said.

From a retailer perspective, lending is good, but the bigger story is that the cost of customer acquisition continues to go up, Eleanya said. For him, retailers need to maximize the long term value by retaining customers and the way to do that, he contends, is to offer services programs.

“We’re democratizing access for small and medium sized retailers so they can compete in this really expensive environment,” he said.

Mulberry is already working with some big direct to consumer brands like Mirror, the smart workout mirror, the coffee maker Breville, and Nectar Sleep — a Casper mattress competitor.

So far, Mulberry has about $1 million in annual recurring revenue and is on pace to hit $10 million in ARR this year, Eleanya said.

 

#business, #coffee-maker, #e-commerce, #economy, #insurance, #kitchen, #new-york, #new-york-city, #nigeria, #pace-capital, #serial-entrepreneur, #tc, #warranty

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Indonesian insurtech startup PasarPolis gets $54 million Series B from investors including LeapFrog and SBI

PasarPolis, the Indonesian-based startup focused on making insurance policies more accessible in Southeast Asia, announced today it has closed a Series B round totaling $54 million. Investors include LeapFrog Investments and SBI Investment, both firms that focus on financial services; AlphaJWC; Intudo Ventures; and Xiaomi.

Gojek’s venture capital arm, Go-Ventures, which participated in PasarPolis’ Series A two years ago, also returned for the new round.

Founded in 2015 by chief executive officer Cleosent Randing and chief operating officer Michael Saputra, PasarPolis operates in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The company says the number of insurance policies it issues monthly has grown 80 times since August 2018, when it closed its Series A, and that it now partners with more than 30 insurance providers.

Randing said the the insurance penetration rate in the ASEAN region is currently just 3.6%, and the startup’s goal is to reach people who have never purchased insurance before through products including inexpensive “micro-policies” that cover broken device screens.

In 2019, the company says PasarPolis issued more than 650 million policies to people buying insurance for the first time, including ride-hailing drivers, delivery couriers, and online merchants. Sales continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic because it increased demand for insurance, while also prompting people to make more purchases online (most of PasarPolis’ policies are sold through its mobile apps). In June alone, the company claims it served more than four million new customers, and has now provided policies to more than 35 million customers in total.

Nishant Kumar, PasarPolis’ chief technology officer, told TechCrunch that the new funding will be used on its AI-based claim automation platform, which allows the company to customize insurance products for different industries.

It also plans to invest in PasarPolis Mitra, an onboarding platform for agents. Soft-launched in May 2020, PasarPolis allows people to apply to become Mitra, or insurance agents, for the company. PasarPolis currently has a network of about 10,000 agents in Indonesia, who help customers chose policies and process claims.

“We plan to invest in infrastructure to help our Mitra be able to engage with our customers more,” said Kumar. “We believe it’s important for us to implement both online and offline strategies as an insurtech player.”

Kumar added that even though technology plays a “pivotal role” in making insurance products accessible to more people, PasarPolis does not “see digital as just a medium to sell insurance. We think that technology can be used to segment risk in real-time and provide more affordable insurance to the masses.”

Two of PasarPolis’ main competitors in Southeast Asia include Qoala, another Indonesia-based insurtech startup that recently raised funding, and Grab Financial Group, which launched a new portfolio of consumer financial services last month, including expanded insurance offerings.

Randing told TechCrunch that PasarPolis’ competitive advantage is its “ability to offer highly customized and modular insurance products that are integrated with partners’ systems,” including health and accident coverage for Gojek’s drivers and passengers; insurance for small- to medium-sized businesses that cover damaged products and missing items; and policies that protect e-commerce customers.

An example of the kind of customized insurance products PasarPolis can create is a policy for Gojek drivers that covers stolen vehicles and costs less than USD $4 a year.

The company is also a licensed insurance broker, which is why it was able to operate PasarPolis Mitra. “The platform is so unique to Indonesians, that it enables anyone, from professional insurance Mitra, Gojek drivers, stay-at-home moms, and furloughed employees, to earn additional income, especially during the new normal,” said Randing.

#asia, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #insurance, #insurtech, #pasarpolis, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #vietnam

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Nurx has $22.5 million in new money, a path to profitability, and new treatments for migraines on the way

As the COVID-19 epidemic spread across the US earlier this year, Nurx, like most other digital providers of healthcare and prescription services saw a huge spike in demand.

Now, with $22.5 million in new financing and a surging annual run rate that could see the company hit $150 million in revenue, the company is emerging as the largest digital practice for women’s health.

“We saw this tremendous surge in need for our contraception and sensitive health services,” says Nurx chief executive Varsha Rao .

The growth hasn’t come without controversy. Only last year, a New York Times article pointed to corner cutting at the startup which boasts Chelsea Clinton as an investor and advisor.

Undeterred Rao said that the company has now seen tremendous acceleration in all areas of its business. It’s now providing care to over 300,000 patients on a monthly basis, boasts that $150 million run rate and new investors like Comcast Ventures, Trustbridge and Wittington Ventures — the investment arm of one of the largest pharmacy chains in Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart.

The new $22.5 million is an extension on the company’s previous $32 million round and will take the company to profitability by 2021, according to Rao.

And while birth control and contraception are still the largest areas of the company’s business, Nurx is growing its range of services, seeing adoption of its testing for sexually transmitted infections including HPV and herpes and a new treatment area for migraines.

That focus on sexual health and what the company calls sensitive health is different from trying to be a primary care provider says Rao. “Our real focus right now is on our core demographic who are women between the ages of twenty and forty and really focusing on their needs,” she says. “That’s why migraines make a lot of sense. It’s not exclusively hormone related, but it often is… One-in-four women experience migraines and they’re largely from hormonal changes… This is a condition we’re well positioned to address.”

Another way that Nurx differentiates itself from competitors like Hims and Ro, which provide women’s health and contraceptive prescriptions as well, is through its ability to take insurance. “It’s actually pretty challenging to build the system to actually offer insurance,” says Rao. “And yet, we don’t think you can be a true healthcare company if you don’t accept insurance.”

 

#advisor, #canada, #chelsea-clinton, #comcast-ventures, #health-services, #healthcare, #hims, #insurance, #new-york-times, #nurx, #tc, #united-states, #varsha-rao, #wittington-ventures

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Atomwise’s machine learning-based drug discovery service raises $123 million

With a slew of partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies under its belt and the successful spin out of at least one new company, Atomwise has already proved the value of its machine learning platform for discovering and commercializing potential small molecule therapies for a host of conditions.

Now the company has raised $123 million in new funding to accelerate its business.

“Scaling the technology and scaling the team and scaling what we’ve been doing with it,” says chief executive officer Abe Heifets when asked about what comes next for the eight year old business.

Atomwise has already signed contracts worth $5.5 billion with corporate partners that include Eli Lilly & Co., Bayer, Hansoh Pharmaceuticals, and Bridge Biotherapeutics. Smaller, earlier stage companies like StemoniX and SEngine Precision Medicine are also using Atomwise’s tech.

Now the company will look to capture more of the value of drug discovery for itself, looking to develop and commercialize its discoveries by taking over more of the development process and working with manufacturers at a later stage, according to Heifets.

Atomwise tipped its new strategy last year when it announced a partnership with Velocity Drug Development and a $14.5 million investment to create x-37, a spinoff that’s developing small molecule therapies for endodermal cancers, which include cancers of the liver, pancreas, colon, stomach, and bladder.

“We have something like 750 projects running today around the world,” says Heifets. “These comprise more than 600 unique targets and that’s with a vast range of partnerships.”

The power of Atomwise’s drug discovery platform is its ability to harness machine learning to structure new proteins that have never existed — and ensure that they’re able to reach precise target receptors to accomplish a desired task.

Here, the x-37 spinoff is especially illustrative. One line of research the company is conducting into molecules that can target the PIM3 protein receptor. If a drug can block PIM3, it can kill cancerous endodermal cells, according to Heifets. However, if the molecules bind to another, similar target, PIM1, the therapy can cause heart attacks and kill patients.

“This is a challenge and empirically was considered undruggable,” says Heifets. Atomwise’s company screened 11 billion potential molecules against the targets to come up with 500 potential therapies. They’re now working on refining the therapy to bring something to market.

And x-37 is only one of the companies that Atomwise has created to commercialize various new molecules. There’s also Atropos Therapeutics, Theia Biosciences and vAIrus.

Atomwise is far from the only company to think that the application of machine learning technologies to drug discovery is a winning combination. Menten.ai is a company that’s taken the new technology developments one step further and added quantum computing to the mix to come up with new drugs.

“The market opportunity we’re going after is four times the value of the entire pharma industry today,” said Heifets. “Here’s what that’s about. There’s 20,000 human genes and only 4% have ever been drugs. Another 16% have been evidenced. But the opportunity of drugging the undruggable is way bigger than the entire pharma industry.”

Unlocking that opportunity is going to take lots of capital. That’s why B Capital and Sanabil Investments combined to lead Atomwise’s Series B round. It’s also why companies like DCVC, BV, Tencent, Y Combinator, Dolby Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and two, undisclosed, insurance companies have invested in the company’s latest round.

 with a goal to commercialize high potential candidates through the drug development process. The company plans to continue to expand its work with corporate partners, which currently include major players in the biopharma space including Eli Lilly and Company, Bayer, Hansoh Pharmaceuticals, and Bridge Biotherapeutics, as well as emerging biotechnology companies like StemoniX and SEngine Precision Medicine. Atomwise has signed approximately $5.5 billion in deal value with corporate partners to date.

To date, Atomwise has worked with 750 academic research collaborations addressing over 600 disease targets, to model and screen over 16 billion new molecules for virtual screening. These molecules have generated 17 pending patent applications and several peer-reviewed publications. There are 285 active drug discovery partnerships with researchers at top universities around the world, and recently announced 15 research collaborations with global universities to explore broad-spectrum therapies for COVID-19, targeting 15 unique and novel mechanisms of action.

“New technologies are enabling better and faster R&D for the life science industry,” said Raj Ganguly, co-Founder and Managing Partner at B Capital Group . “The advancements Atomwise has made with its computational drug discovery platform have effectively cut months or even years off of the R&D lifecycle. More importantly, however, they are solving biology problems previously believed to be unsolvable by researchers and delivering that capability to everyone from academics to big pharma. We’re excited to continue to partner with the Atomwise team on its mission to develop new, more effective therapies.”

For lead investor, B Capital, the Atomwise investment is part of a thesis around lowering the cost of care and improving outcomes.

“Companies like Atomwise that are improving the cost curve are in the same vein of bringing therapies to market faster and cheaper. Which means you can improve access and improve costs and address things like rare diseases,” said Adam Seabrook, a principal at B Capital focused on healthcare.

#ame-cloud-ventures, #articles, #atomwise, #b-capital-group, #bayer, #biotechnology, #chief-executive-officer, #disease, #drug-development, #drug-discovery, #health, #healthcare, #insurance, #life-sciences, #machine-learning, #partner, #quantum-computing, #raj-ganguly, #series-b, #tc, #tencent, #y-combinator

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