SPACs, M&As and ITC Vegas

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And before you know it, it’s the end of September.

Welcome to SøNws.

This week we’ve got SPACs, M&A, investments, partnerships. All in the name of driving (/dragging?) insurance that little bit further forward.

Before we get into it, three things:

1. ITC Vegas – Forward50: Americas Edition
If you’re heading out to Vegas next month, do get signed up to attend the launch. We’ve got 90 minutes of incredible insights into the emerging trends across the region plus interviews with some of the most promising startups and prominent figures from innovation and investment.

RSVP here.

2. ITC Vegas – Harmonizing Sustainability Summit
Once you’re fully loaded on emerging trends, come join our next session with our good pals Sabine VanderLinden and Lisa Wardlaw. Now in its 3rd edition, we’ll be exploring the key trends faced by (re)insurers in tackling the challenge of sustainability in both Commercial lines and L&H.

Plus we’re joined by a suitably all-star cast from WTW, Tech Mahindra, RGA and MS&AD as well as a number of startups helping to meet the sector’s ever-evolving needs. Space is going fast so register here today.

3. New features, new clients, new case studies
It’s been a busy few weeks evolving the innovation management side of Sønr, onboarding new clients and pulling together a few new case studies.

Read the case studies.
Get a demo of the new features.

Right, let’s kick off.

SPAC is back…but is it the right vehicle?

Roadzen has SPAC’d, going public with a $683m equity value.

These guys provide tech solutions which help auto insurers improve customer experience, reduce fraud, and make better underwriting decisions. Founded in India they now work with 90+ enterprise customers across the US, UK, continental Europe and India.

Making its Nasdaq debut last Friday, it’s not looking pretty. That said, it takes a little while for these things to settle.

Whilst digging a little deeper I came across a great article written by David Saric which talks about how Roadzen plans to ‘dodge the post-IPO blues’. Definitely worth a read.

One that got less press coverage was China’s Cheche Group which also completed its NASDAQ SPAC listing last week. These guys, operating an online marketplace for car insurance trading, are following a pretty similar track.

Maybe SPAC isn’t the way to go after all? Let’s revisit this one.

M&A accelerating ambitions

Last time I talked about CelsiusPro acquiring Global Parametrics.

This week in the US we’ve got Hexure, a provider of sales and regulatory automation solutions for the life and annuity industry, acquiring Vive, a quote and e-submission platform.

Also in life insurance, but a little further north, we’ve got Canada’s Thinktum acquiring Illustrate. The plan is to become the no-code leader in their space.

And to provide a little balance and remind us all that innovation is a global play, we’ve got a beaut from Africa.

Kenya’s Turaco has acquired microinsurance company MicroEnsure Ghana to make the West African country its fourth market.

Launched in 2019, Turaco runs a B2B2C model and their vision is to provide simple and accessible insurance to one billion people.

How good is that? Love it.

Open innovation isn’t just for the incumbents

There’s still a mountain of incumbent <> insurtech collaborations taking place at the moment. Interesting fact: you can track all these in Sønr plus get alerts on any new partnerships that are being struck with companies you’re tracking, which could even include competitors 🤷

A couple a little more outside-the-box stories which I thought worth sharing:

On-demand platform INSHUR continues its partnership with Uber and launches its insurance offering for livery drivers (or cabbies as us Brits like to call them) in Arizona. Additional states are planned for the coming months.

And Bold Penguin has partnered with Next Insurance to enhance small business coverage options on the Bold Penguin Terminal. Nice. Feels a good fit.

Bolttech’s blockbuster big bucks B boost

I’ve been looking forward to writing about this one.

Possibly one of my favourite companies, both in terms of business model and also operational team, has got to be bolttech. I know, you’ve got a love a good unbiased write up, right?

So having launched their business just yesterday (well, okay, 2020), they’ve now completed a $246m Series B. Incredible considering the investment climate we’re in, and testament to the strength of their business.

It’s really interesting when getting into the weeds of this one a little more.

The new funding is to accelerate its global growth strategy, with a focus on countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. But it’ll also be used to build out its proprietary technology, with plans to pioneer the use of AI and ML in its operations; it’ll be good to see more of this over the coming months. Finally, it also plans to enhance its insurance distribution tech.

Another, this one in the digital health space, is Hong Kong’s Bowtie which has successfully wrapped up a $34.9m Series B2 round.

In the press release Michael Chan, one of the Co-CEOs of Bowtie, offered up some of their numbers:
“With a yearly recurring revenue of $25 million and a customer base exceeding 100,000, our strong growth metrics, brand strength, and customer value are evident.”

The newly acquired funds are set to boost Bowtie’s technological capabilities and further its reach in addressing Hong Kong’s $886bn protection gap.

Financial wellness for all your employees

From health to wealth, a couple of bits of innovation I thought were worth a read.

Barcelona’s Payflow has signed a financing agreement of up to €20m with BBVA Spark.

These guys do something really interesting – they enable employees to instantly access accrued wages via an app. Nice huh?

Since its inception, the company’s mission has been to bring financial wellness to millions of employees and it’s definitely one of the more creative social benefits that companies can offer their staff.

In the UK, Mintago has raised $4.75m.

These guys provide a financial wellbeing platform where employees can manage pensions, find lost pension funds, and access financial advisors, savings tools, debt counselling, and unbiased financial education programs. Another good one to keep an eye on.

EMEA early-stage cyber action

Good to see French cyber insurtech Stoïk completing their raise of €10.7m this week.

These guys state they’re the first MGA in Europe to enable brokers to provide their clients with insurance policy and protection against cyber risks. So far, 2,000 companies have signed up.

Another fundraise, albeit early-stage, is Cypherleak bringing in a $750k Seed round.

With a focus on SMEs who are often priced out of enterprise cybersecurity, it enables clients to track their leaked passwords and information on both the public and dark web and identify vulnerabilities affecting their infrastructure.

They’re now sitting at 1,000 corporate end users across Europe and MENA with plans to push across the Middle East and Africa.

From carbon insurance to deep sea assessments

Renew Risk, a UK-based clean-energy firm has raised a £1.7m Seed round.

Its assessment solutions allow (re)insurers, brokers and offshore wind farm developers to appropriately assess the risk of renewable energy assets being constructed in deep sea and in natural disaster-prone regions. Clever stuff, right?

The company intends to use the funds to acquire clients across US and Asia and build products covering other asset classes.

Another development on the ESG side of things is from Kita, the UK-based carbon insurer.

They have now launched in Canada and its insurance is available for Canadian investors and buyers that are engaging in the global carbon markets.

Kita’s Carbon Purchase Protection Cover protects buyers of forward purchase carbon credits against under-delivery. The extension of Kita’s permission is in addition to its current permission to insure companies in the US and UK.

Right, I’m outta here.

As always, get in touch if you’d like to know more about Sønr. Also, if you’re in the US and we don’t yet work together, we’ve still got a couple of Sønr Insiders spots available. Happy to share more details on that one.

And don’t forget to sign up for the launch of the Forward50: Americas Edition at ITC Vegas. If it’s anything like Barcelona, it’ll be standing room only before your know it.

In fact, if you’re heading to Vegas, drop me a line and it’d be good to meet up.

Enjoy the weekend.


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