In early 2016 we first invested in Next Insurance alongside Oren Zeev and Ribbit Capital. That investment was an easy one for me to make, having known the founders for over six years and having the privilege and good fortune to be an investor in their previous company, Check, which was acquired by Intuit for $360m.
Guy, Nissim and Alon are the type of founders that once you have the privilege to work with, you just hope they will have another company that you can back.
A little over two years ago that hope was realized when the three of them decided to leave Intuit and start their next company. After exploring several options, they decided to disrupt the insurance market. I was excited to say the least. It’s the type of market that I love investing in: an industry full of outdated processes that needs a technological facelift.
Specifically, Guy, Nissim and Alon wanted to rethink insurance for SMBs. For them, it was important to own the customer themselves from the outset as opposed to serving the existing insurance players. In other words, they really wanted to go for it. With such a lofty vision however, comes the need for a significant war chest. And so, while we founded TLV Partners to focus on early stage (seed and series A) investments, investing in a “modest” $13m first funding round wasn’t much of a debate. We maintained our pro-rata in the company’s second financing round last year, and now we are doubling down again, investing an additional $15m as part of Next’s third financing round led by Redpoint.
As I said earlier, the initial decision to invest in Next was a no-brainer. Similarly, maintaining our pro-rata in the company’s second round was a relatively easy decision. But for an early stage fund like us, doubling down in a late stage round is not the most intuitive of decisions. So below is a short explanation of why we are so bullish on Next Insurance:
- SMB Insurance is a huge market and completely outdated
The Insurance market ranks as one of the lowest when it comes to customer satisfaction. And while many SMBs do in fact search for insurance products online, close to 100% of commercial policies are purchased through agents. And to be clear, in the US alone the SMB insurance market is estimated to be valued at more than $135bn, so that’s a lot of policies purchased through agents. This is due to a lack of good and reliable online customer service and product offerings. The fact of the matter is commercial insurance is complicated and requires a lot of expertise to simplify.
- Performance to date
In a little over two years, Next has become an MGA in all 50 states and recently became an insurance carrier (the only pure play serving this market). Revenues have grown 15X year over year, and counter intuitively, ROI of a customer has even improved. The company is selling its own products, including underwriting, rating and issuing policies and it’s the only company in the United States with an online portal to allow SMB users to manage their policies online.
- Demand and partnerships opportunities
The demand for Next’s products is off the charts and the company has even had to slow demand artificially in order to make sure it can serve its customers efficiently. And even more so, there are still big opportunities for partnerships in the SMB business that can boost performance even greater. There are plenty of companies that serve the small business market. For example, companies like Square and Intuit can work together with Next to offer their customers a first class online Insurance Product.
Both great signs for even better performance going forward.
- Founders’ conviction
Perhaps most importantly, I see the conviction in the eyes of the founders. And yes, I’m aware that most founders are optimistic when it comes to their businesses (otherwise they wouldn’t have started it). But in this case, I’ve known the founders for years and have seen them in both good and challenging times. When I look at them today I can tell that there exists a strong conviction in their ability to build a multi-billion company
Above all, Next is delivering real value to its customers and reviews emphasize the ease of use, fair pricing and excellent service. Not typical feedback for an insurance company.
And lastly, given the complexity of building an online Insurance company for the Commercial market, it will be very hard for rising competition to catch up with Next as they keep progressing, thus creating a “winner takes it all” opportunity.
For more information about Next Insurance visit their website: https://www.next-insurance.com/