Last night I connected 5 people with one another.
All senior folk in big global businesses.
Whilst it’s a small number, it was the first step towards the ‘community’ concept I’ve been exploring.
The background, if you’ve missed my thinking to date, is that whilst I get to meet and work with a tonne of brilliant people, I’m always surprised when I find out they don’t already know one another.
And so I want to create an environment for people to come together to share, learn and create.
My current thinking is:
5-6 people in a group – all similar seniority and roles, across non-compete companies
scheduled group video calls (once a month for 6 months)
a supporting WhatsApp group (appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea)
simple rules of – no selling, Chatham House rule, open agendas
Plu,s every quarter, possibly more often, all groups come together:
hear from amazing speakers, not just industry folk
take trips to incredible places – I’m thinking something like the Explòr immersion trips we (used to run!) to China/India/LatAm
and most importantly, we all go skiing once a year
There’s no cost to this (albeit you might have to pay for the ski trips!) and the small groups are strictly private. I.E. this isn’t some great plot to eavesdrop on your conversations!
If you’re interested in being part of this, drop me a line.
If you’d like to sponsor this and pay for getting it off the ground, drop me a line.
If you’d like me to get on with SøNws, keep reading.
Life & Health
You know it’s a buoyant market when you have a company that is less than 12 months old and able to raise $50m.
Keep an eye on these guys (once they’ve launched their website!) – Circulo Health is a US-based insurtech targeting the Medicaid market and its 75m members.
Interestingly, the company’s business will be built on Olive‘s ‘AI powered workforce’ platform (used by over 600 hospitals) and will leverage its automation, insight, network tools, and AI co-worker technologies.
At the other end of the scale, this week we heard China’s mutual aid and crowdfunding health insurtech Waterdrop is seeking to IPO in Q2. Interestingly in the US.
And it’s set to be valued at tens of billions. Boom.
If that doesn’t get a whole new raft of entrepreneurs and VCs entering the healthtech and Insurtech space I don’t know what will. Time for the next wave of startups?
A couple of others I thought particularly interesting this week.
In the UK Simply Business has partnered with Equipsme to offer health insurance plans to small business owners, the self-employed, and their families after a successful 2020 pilot. Plans can be bought online in minutes directly from Simply Business, either with or separately to their business insurance, and aims to help those directly impacted by Covid-19.
Whilst it’s easy to skim read this stuff, I’m really looking to seeing where this can take Equipsme and how they might shape the UK private health market over the next few years.
And out in Abu Dhabi last week, Daman Health launched its first digital smart branch service, enabling individuals to virtually meet advisors, share documents electronically, and discuss policies. Whilst available elsewhere in the world, it’s a great step forward for the GCC.
The reason I mention this is I feel the GCC is somewhere with a very real opportunity to take the best from innovation globally and rapidly accelerate to become a world leader.
Just one for the life side of L&H.
Enterprise no-code platform Unqork has launched the Life Origination solution. The plan is to help life insurers build and manage end-to-end applications across the, you guessed it, new business origination process.
It aims to replace the legacy tech – which can take months or years to bring products to market – and make the process 3x faster and cost-effective. Nice. It also claims its no-code solution results in 600x fewer bugs.
Following its strategic partnership with Munich Re Digital Partners in January, Canadian insurtech Foxquilt has launched its online insurance platform – Foxden.
It has launched with products for health & fitness professionals, home contractors, creative entrepreneurs, pet services and personal coaches, with plans to expand across new businesses and geographies later in the year.
Like (pre-Covid) London busses, we’ve recently been commissioned to do a tonne of telematics research.
Something that jumped out this week is the new Ford/Arity partnership. Arity is the telematics-data division of Allstate and is the first telematics service provider that Ford has partnered with.
I need to do some more digging but as I understand it, it means any driver of a Ford or Lincoln connected car, can now enable Arity to provide personalised insurance based on how and when they drive, without the need for any additional hardware.
Keeping with telematics and last week By Miles partnered with claims management provider WNS Assistance. In a similar vein to the above, the partnership is focussed on connected cars, albeit customers will still require the mobile app.
The plan is for WNS to provide 24/7 claims management for those driving under 7,000 miles a year.
Stepping into the M&A world and you might have seen Cazoo acquired Cluno, adding to its recent purchase of Drover.
Cluno offers a flexible and hassle-free alternative to car ownership. It offers a choice of 100 makes and models, with a single monthly subscription fee which includes the car, maintenance, service, warranty, tax and insurance.
The deal combines Cazoo’s platform and funding, with Cluno’s expertise and automotive relationships. Once integrated it’ll enable Cazoo to launch its full proposition in Germany and across Europe giving customers the option of purchasing, financing or subscribing to thousands of cars on its platform.
They’ve deepened their collaboration with insurtech Greater Than through an agreement with Onto.
If you don’t already know Onto, definitely check them out. Think Cluno but for electric cars which has to be the direction of travel.
Onto’s entire EV fleet is now connected to Greater Than’s Enerfy AI Risk Portfolio Tracker.
At this first stage, the risk-insight will be used by Zurich and Onto to get a better understanding of the fleet’s risk. But I’m sure this just a springboard to launching a whole bunch of interesting customer-centric products. Will be a good one to see progress.
And the other Zurich news is it has put some money into My Policy and as part of the move Zurich will also become a long-term capacity provider. Interestingly Zurich’s telematics equipment provider Bright Box will also be incorporated into the My Policy business.
Other investment activity
There’s an absolute mountain of investment activity over the past few weeks and in a buoyant market I’m sure there will be more capital looking for a home.
Property – States Title out in a San Francisco has raised $150m in debt financing. These guys are an AI-based solution for the real estate industry.
Pet – Pawlicy Advisor (just brilliant) has raised a $6.5m in Series A. With 4 out of 5 pet owners unable to meet the average $5k in unexpected out-of-pocket costs that come with pet ownership, Pawlicy Advisor has set up a data-driven marketplace of pet insurance products so users can find a pet insurer with transparent options, and predict how much coverage will increase over a pet’s lifetime.
AI – Israeli startup Earnix, which uses advanced analytics to help insurers and banks offer personalised financial products, reached a $1 billion valuation in a financing round this week.
You know there’s so much good stuff coming out of Israel and/or companies with Israeli connections – think Lemonade, Hippo, Next Insurance. Did you know Israeli connected startups raised $1.44 billion in January 2021? True story. I genuinely can’t wait to get out there post lockdown.
Open insurance – Insurely announced a €2.5m investment round. The company stated it had seen ‘a real spike in demand for its insurance API solutions’, which include personalising the onboarding process, optimising pricing, and creating consumer-centric products.
The new funds will be used to help it meet the demands in the European market – the company expects to grow its business 5x in 2021 alone.
A couple of interesting reads I’ve come across over the past couple of weeks. Both early stage
Rick Huckstep’s ‘Wiser!’ – with a focus on startups (insurance and other) he’s pulling together a curated digest of original content, market insights, informed opinion, and the wisdom of others. Looks good.
Ron Arnold’s Lighthouse – similar to SøNws in as much as it’s a curation of insurance innovation news from around the world. But an extra depth of focus on the Australasian market which you tend not to pick up elsewhere.
Finally, a great Spøtlight for you this week.
We caught up with Megha from Earthmiles. Ex M&A banker turned entrepreneur, Megha Prakash set up Earthmiles 6 years ago, the business focusses on rewarding employees for improving their wellbeing, be it physical, mental, financial or social.
Last thought before I disappear. Earlier this week I caught up with someone who has been reading and loving (his words) SøNws for the past two years.
He asked what I did for a living other than write SøNws. Amazing. I get the feeling I might need to be a little more direct on linking the newsletter and the core business!
Just to be clear, for anyone else who might be wondering the same, I run a company called Sønr (see the link – Sønr, SøNws?).
Sønr is the world’s most comprehensive source of innovation intelligence. It is a subscription platform used by some of the best-known insurance companies globally.
It tracks millions of companies around the world and provides insight on the latest market trends, the startups and scaleups reshaping the industry, and intelligence on how other big insurers are innovating.
Sønr also includes a suite of tools designed for global, distributed teams, helping them better collaborate and connect. From recording meetings to capturing and sharing Notes, to being able to track and share activity across the company using Watchlists and CRM boards.
Plus, the platform is a backed up by a team of consultants, researchers and analysts who support clients in discovering and creating new business opportunities.
All the good stuff for helping you stay relevant, compete and plan for the future.
If you’d like to explore Sønr for yourself, you can take a trial here.
If you’d like to get in touch about some specific research or help with scanning, connecting and working with startups, drop me a line.
Right, that’s me done. The sun is finally shining in the UK and it’s time to enjoy.
Sønr is the world-leading market intelligence platform created specifically for the insurance sector. It provides you with the knowledge and tools to stay relevant, compete and plan for the future.
Sønr is backed up by an expert team of researchers and analysts who can draw on our data to create bespoke insight.
Try out a 14-day trial of Sønr to access intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. Plus collaboration tools to help you track and manage innovation activity across your organisation.