Parental permission - the last step in Spira's acquisition


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Hello all.

Kicking us off this week is an update on the Future50 – a series of reports aiming to uncover the next unicorns from the raft of emerging startups.

And with over 45% of Q1 insurtech investment heading into early stage ventures around the world, it ain’t no easy task.

We’re starting our search in the Americas and have by now reviewed thousands of startups.

And this week we’ve passed a shortlist of 100 over to 20 illustrious judges who have the unenviable task of scoring each and helping us determine who will be included in the Future50 Americas.



A big thanks to all those involved. We couldn’t do it without you.

Do keep an eye out over the coming weeks as Sønr and Insurtech Insights pull this together and publish it to the world. Should be a great one.

Let’s dive in to it. ­­­

Investment into auto insurtech

Starting with investments and US-based Jerry – a self-proclaimed car ownership super-app, has raised a $28m Series B.

Whilst currently focussed on aggregating motor insurance quotes, their USP is in providing a one-stop-shop for other auto-related marketplaces such as repairs, servicing and warranties. And in 2020, that year where I thought everyone had stopped driving, they managed to grow their revenues 10x, saving customers on average $800 per year.

In the UK, Wrisk announced a £4.6M Series A for their B2B2C motor insurance offering.

This is off the back of a pay-per-mile trial with RAC back in early 2020 which moved into a full launch more recently.

Interestingly, whilst on the UK, the Insurance Fraud Bureau reported over 170k auto claims in the past 15 months have possible connections to a ‘Crash for Cash’ trend amongst gangs, with fraudulent claims amounting to millions. How about that?

And relevantly, in Europe, France’s Shift Technology has raised a $220m Series D adding it to the ever growing unicorn paddock.



Fraud-focused SaaS provider Shift stated the new funding will be used to further expand in the US, Europe and Asia. The company already works with around 100 customers in 25 countries, and has stated it has analysed nearly 2 billion insurance claims.

Innovation across life & pensions

Think back 5 years and what you were up to back then.

For Peter Colis and Lingke Wang, they were just setting up Ethos – a digital life insurance company.

With a 500% year-on-year revenue AND customer growth, the company is now valued at $2bn, having recently raised a $200m Series D. Not bad huh?



If you haven’t checked out Ethos already, it’s a very interesting business and wholly relevant for today’s world. It leverages machine learning and doesn’t require medical exams for underwriting, making life insurance much more accessible to its customers.

Also in the US, this week Vise announced a $65M series C with further backing from Sequoia and new investors including Ribbit.

Vise uses an AI-powered platform to give IFAs the technology and tools to help them grow their business and deliver value for their clients. Again, it’s another business pitching as an ‘enabler’ as opposed to ‘challenger’, with the vision to “create financial freedom for everyone”.

Further afield, in Singapore and robo advisory investment app, StashAway has launched a new group term-life product in Singapore… catchily titled: StashAway Term Life.

Following April’s $25m raise, it’s an app-based offering – comprising of 6 health-related questions to get to recommendations, which you can use to tailor your cover and marks the broadening of the product offering they eluded to as part of their investment announcement.

The changing face of healthtech

My favourite story this week?

Before Galileo could acquire US telemedicine healthech Spira, it had to get permission from the founders’ parents. Just. Brilliant.

Founded by teenagers Sage Khanuja and Nikolas Ioannou, Spira is a B2B no-code tool which helps with patient screening, though began life as a Covid-19 respiratory test using a mobile’s microphone.



I now feel that chasing an egg shaped ball around a pitch may not have been the most valuable way I could have spent my teenage years.

Keeping with telehealth, did you clock Walmart plans to acquire telehealth provider MeMD as part of their own expansion into this space? The Amazon vs Walmart battle continues.

On that note, it was great to see Google launching its AI-powered (and browser-based) app:



It’s a dermatology assistant – using nothing more than your smartphone camera a whole load of behind the scenes tech smarts, to help answer patient’s questions about their skin conditions.

It’s currently licensed in the EU but presumably will roll out across the world at some point soon.

A couple of others from the past couple of weeks:

As part of a growing trend of remote, decentralised care, Huma has just raised $130m.

Huma’s aim is to decentralise healthcare and enable more patients to receive treatment at home, thereby increasing the number of people a hospital can care for at once.

Patients are prescribed an app which gives them instructions from their doctors to follow at home. It also collects data that’s monitored by teams in the hospital.

Super interesting.

Another UK healthtech announcing funding this week is Unmind, the workplace mental health startup. It has landed a $47M Series B.

The London-based company saw more than 100% revenue growth through 2020. It plans to use the cash to both further develop platform content and integration as well as supporting their global expansion.

Property insurtech is building strong

Home Insurtech, and one of our Insurtech100 from last year, Kin has raised a $63.9m Series C.

The company has reported that it surpassed a $100m run rate in April – up 300% from last year. Not bad, not bad.



Kin, which leverages public data and satellite imagery to help people get accurate quotes,
will use the new funds to accelerate hiring and expand its geographical reach and product range.

Another announcing its expansion plans is Parisian home insurance MGA, Luko which will be expanding into Spain.

The startup raised $60m back in December and it’s great to see their continuing journey.

Global insurtech roundup

A couple from India to kick things off.

Acko is reportedly looking into securing a new $200m funding round, which would secure the general insurer Unicorn status. The Amazon-backed insurtech has sold auto and health policies to over 50m customers since its launch in 2016.

And registrar service KFIN Technologies has acquired a 17% stake in India’s Artivatic.ai – which offers SaaS across on-boarding, fraud, risk profiling, underwriting and claims.

Artivatic stated it would use the funding to scale its product portfolio and its geographic footprint.

In China, Yuanbao has raised $155m Series C funding – just a year after launching with a national brokerage license.

The company, which uses a ‘smart insurance brain’ to match buyers with the products best suited to their current situation, claims it has already served ‘millions of paying users’.

Finally Brazilian insurtech Pitzi has revealed plans for strategic M&As in 2021 after doubling in size in 2020.



Pitzi, which protects more than 1m mobile devices, aims to triple its operations by the end of this year through M&A – beginning with the acquisition of competitor Komus.

Partnering with insurtechs

In the UK, The Floow and Direct Line have expanded their telematics partnership. They’ve launched a smartphone app-only version of DrivePlus, which originally started life as a black box proposition.

The new fully digital experience aims to increase road safety and make insurance more accessible to young drivers, with potential savings of up to 20% available. With the comparatively lower cost of an app-based proposition, it’ll be interesting to see how this may also be offered more broadly to the Direct Line customer base.

And in the US this week two insurtech giants, Metromile and Hippo, have announced a new partnership.

This one’s really interesting to me. Firstly for those who didn’t know, Metromile is a pay-per-mile car insurer and Hippo a home insurer.

The route they’ve taken is to offer a 15% discount to anyone buying a bundled product.

More often than not we see founders of ‘challenger’ insurtechs building a customer base in one line of insurance before launching in another and cross-selling the new product. Lemonade is a great example of this.

I look forward to seeing the results and hope it pays off for them both.



While we’re talking about Metromile, did you see it will now enable policyholders to pay premiums with cryptocurrency, as well as receive claim payouts with it?

I think it’s the first insurer to do so and sadly not the week to have announced it, with Bitcoin sitting at a 3-month low. Whilst not quite at the Tesla scale (which bought $1.5bn!), the insurtech will buy $10m worth of Bitcoin to pave the way for the new form of transactions.

That’s pretty much a wrap for this week’s SøNws.

A couple of plugs.

Thanks to the Insurance Times for the invite to join ‘Digitisation: How can insurers and brokers optimise processes for business gains?’.

It was a good conversation and I particularly enjoyed the views of Tony Sweeney of Kingfisher and Paul Tombs of Zurich. You can check it out here.



And great to catch up with my friend Tunde who runs Africa InsurTech Rising (and is the guy behind The Bridge with ITC).

Tunde invited me on to his podcast and it was great to chat all things Insurtech and to learn more about the market out there. Definitely worth a listen.

On the Sønr side, keep an eye out for more info on the community idea I mentioned a while back.

We’ve been busy building a platform behind the scenes and will be reaching out to a select few to capture feedback over the coming weeks.

Right, that is that.

As always, feel free to shout me on any of the above. Or drop me a line if you’d like to explore how Sønr could help your business better research the changing market and connect with innovation globally.

Have good weekends all.

Matt

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