Before I lace SøNws with a mountain of Valentine’s puns, this week I read about two people.
Simon Weckert, a Berlin-based artist and Samuel Tisherman a Maryland-based trauma surgeon.
Weckert hit headlines because he spoofed a traffic jam on Google Maps with 99 smartphones. He was highlighting the fragility of public-sourced data as we move towards 5G and more highly networked devices.
I get it. But only kind of. I definitely enjoyed his creativity, although not sure I got the message. Most of all my lasting feeling was of annoyance. What a waste of his time and everyone else he impacted.
Meanwhile there’s this chap Tisherman. He’s experimenting with the process of rapidly cooling trauma patients, temporarily stopping their vital functions. Once cold enough (to a point they’d normally be declared dead) they’re moved to the operating theatre before they are slowly warmed up and their heart restarted.
Can you imagine pitching that in, let alone getting it signed off?
It’s tough enough pitching a new innovation PoC when the worst that can happen is our client makes a few $m.
It's better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve done no life-saving operations, nor walking around towing mobile phones. What I have been doing a load of though, is working with the team on-boarding new Sønr clients.
For me, the most interesting part is the learning of how differently each client approaches innovation: the processes they have in place to capture needs and align opportunity, how the successes and failures of the past shape their future, and just how ambitious and near/far-sighted they focus.
The common factor across them all is the recognition that working with external innovators informs and strengthens strategy, and increases their speed to market.
And time to get to a few of those. When writing this, it’s worth pointing out we’re tracking circa 1,000 market changes on a daily basis. If you’re after something in particular, drop me a note, I’m sure we can help.
First up: Hiscox has partnered with Leakbot to offer all their buildings insurance customers free access to Leakbot’s smart water detection IoT device and service.
Related, and I guess somewhat unsurprisingly, Neos' connected home products will now be distributed under Aviva's brand, rather than its own. It always makes me a little sad to think the brand equity, which the Neos guys will have poured so much love into, can so easily be put to one side. But hey, it makes perfect commercial sense. Plus they got a chunk of money out of the deal so I’m sure they won’t mind too much!
Final IoT chat, and an opportunity to squeeze in a Valentine’s pun - Luko, the French IoT-powered home insurer has asked Julien Gigoi, the Chief Actuary from l'Olivier, if he’ll brie theirs.
Okay, not my finest.
In other partnership news, South Africa’s Santam has partnered with and invested into on-demand JaSure. JaSure’s site has a definite Trōv-from-a-few-years-ago vibe. Will be interesting to see how they get on.
Out in the States and Lyft has partnered with Buckle to provide insurance for rideshare drivers. And a little further north, Canadian broker GroupAssur is working with Element AI to help make its underwriting workflows more efficient.
They’ve teamed up with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to offer its 1,200 employees a ‘Machine Learning for Humans’ certification programme. I struggle with the disconnect between the education programmes globally and how they map to our real-world needs. This however is a good ‘un.
Chemistry between startups and investors
As the tech innovation market continues to mature, 2020 has already seen a chunk of decent-sized investments.
A couple of weeks ago Policygenius, the New York based comparison site, announced a $100m Series D, shortly followed by their competitor, The Zebra, pulling in $38.5m. Congrats to both Jennifer Fitzgerald and Keith Melnick, respectively.
Keeping with comparison, India’s PolicyBazaar posted its 2019 results this week - losses grew by 23x and revenue almost doubled. It’s definitely one way to run a business and they’ve certainly got a decent cash float to play with.
Some other notable investments. Swedish telemedicine leaders Kry (also known as LIVI) raised an impressive $140M Series C and Germany’s Medloop raised €6m. I like both these guys, but Medloop is particularly interesting.
Founded in 2018 its aim is to shift the paradigm of care delivery from reactive to preventative. Something we’re hearing again and again.
In just a couple of years it has some decent traction, offering patients intuitive self-service features that enables them to navigate their own care-pathway. Plus, their app provides other patient services, including online appointment bookings, electronic medical results, prescription refills, as well as an interactive chat function.
The new capital will be used to expand its product offering in Germany and the UK.
A quick run through some other deals.
In the US, San Francisco’s Gabi, the home and car insurance platform, raised a $27m Series B. On the East Coast, property data and AI startup Cherre, raised $16m. And in the middle of those two, Chicago-based Obie raised $2.8m to ‘transform commercial real estate insurance’.
Early days for all of those but 3 very interesting businesses right there.
Also, very happy to see Laka bring on another $4.7m in funding. I’ve always been keen on these guys; a bold approach which in many ways is the return to insurance’s mutual heritage where shared interests incentivise positive behaviour, in turn benefiting the entire community.
The money is being used to continue its growth and finance its expansion across Europe. The company is launching a European HQ in the Netherlands later in 2020, and is building out its team in London, Bristol (where we share an office with them) and Malaysia.
Finally, one acquisition (that I found interesting!) - Aon picked up cybersecurity platform Cytelligence, a provider of advisory, digital forensics, consultancy and training. The startup will join Aon's Cyber Solutions division, and its CEO will become Aon's Canadian President for Cyber Solutions.
Meow and forever
Three pet facts:
In the US, nearly $1.7bn is spent on Valentine’s gifts for pets. That’s right. God bless America
Lemonade has a new product line: pet health insurance. There’s actually some good insight as to why, in that around 70% of Lemonade's customers also own pets
Figo is now the largest independent US pet insurance provider after being valued at $125m off the back of a $5m, 4% equity stake investment
Another amazing fact I read this week, Apple Pay is on track to account for 10% of all global card transactions. TEN PERCENT. That’s huge. I dug a little deeper as I’ve never been a fan and seemingly it’s already sitting at 5%. How about that?
I imagine not a huge threat for the card giants but the PayPals of the world must be hating them right now.
Right, time to call it a day. We’ve a new Spøtlight this week – an interview with Irene van den Brink, CCO of Digital Insurance Group. In it, she runs us through their experience with insurance partnerships in both Europe and Latin America, and drop some hints about some of their upcoming 2020 activity.
You should check it out.
Have good weekends all.
Sø.Nws is brought to you by Sønr.
Sønr is a world-leading market intelligence platform created specifically for the insurance sector. It is used by small and large insurance companies, around the world, to accelerate corporate innovation.
It provides intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. It also has a number of features that help you track and manage scouting activity across your organisation.