With Metromile and By Miles securing new funding this week I dug out my favourite car (ish) joke. It’s not perfect but it’ll have to do: Two fish are sitting in a tank. One looks over at the other and says: "Hey, do you know how to drive this thing?"
Both of these businesses are pay-by-mile auto insurers, making a play for low-mileage drivers.
Metromile, founded in 2011, just raised a $90m Series E. That’s on top of the $200m already pocketed. For them, it’s a play to expand beyond their current 8 states and deepen their AI capability.
By Miles on the other hand are a few years behind. Founded in 2015 and underwritten by AXA Insurance UK, they raised £1m led by the JamJar guys. And what are they going to do with it? Quoting their founder they’re going to ‘make everything even better’. Dig a little deeper and they’ve a whole load of features they’ll be rolling out plus a investment into building their customer support team.
I appreciate Metromile is at a later stage, but the difference in investment size is incredible. I read a really interesting article last year talking about the ‘smaller round, smaller exit’ mindset ingrained in the UK. It’s not a complaint, just a truth borne out of geographic, economic and cultural conditions.
The counterbalance to this, and the country where more VC dollars are pouring into startups than any other, is now officially China. They already boast the global #1 Insurtech, ZhongAn, plus, unlike the US VCs who tend to have a very local market mindset, they’re looking to invest where the action is.
With ambitions to be the world leader in AI in the next decade, Chinese investments now account for 48 percent of global AI startup funding. Oh, and they’ve started teaching AI in schools because “focusing on teaching kids to code is considered short-sighted”.
I bloody love that.
We’re next out there with a client in November. If you’d like us to organise an immersion for you and your colleagues, get in touch. We promise to blow your minds (and connect you to the hilt).
THE PHASE FOR PODCASTS AND NEWSLETTERS.
AND NOT MUCH MORE.
If you want to hear what I have to say on the moral and ethical implications of machine learning, listen here. It’s me, along with my old chums Nick Pester and Saxon East from Insurance Times.
I haven’t listened to it (because I couldn’t think of anything worse than hearing my own voice) but according to my team, who are paid to say nice things, it’s worth getting a cuppa and tuning in.
In related news, I was back in with the Insurance Times this week judging their tech & innovation awards. They make for great fun mornings (mainly thanks to Barry Smith - formerly of Ageas fame and now the Chair of Neos, Emma Bell and John Manley) and give valuable insight into the direction of travel and scale of ambition for innovation within the UK insurance market.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
In other news, when we launched Sønr earlier this year, we vowed to only build out the features requested by clients i.e. we wouldn’t jump to the demands of prospective clients. We still hold true to that and, last week, I hooked up with two clients to check-in, get some feedback and start to explore what more we need to add into the roadmap.
FLIPPER, THE PHOENIX OF ENERGY SWITCHING
Founded in 2015, Flipper was set up to disrupt the energy switching market via an intelligent auto-switching algorithm called Jules. Roll forward a couple of years, the business wasn’t working out and the founding team had to put it into administration.