In the insurance industry, any information that helps assess risk is absolutely critical when it comes to underwriting and specialty marine insurance is no different. A small miscalculation can have significant ramifications. Concirrus is the intelligence platform that helps all relevant parties in the insurance industry (asset owners, insurers, brokers, and investors) understand true risk in real-time. Insurance has traditionally relied on static demographic data along with historical claim data to assess risk. Concirrus layers this information with behavioural data to provide a fuller, more accurate picture of exposure and risk.
London TechWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Andy Yeoman to learn more about bringing sophisticated intelligence to the insurtech space, the company’s future plans, and recent round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to £31.1M.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
CommerzVentures invested $6M (£4.8m) into our business. CommerzVentures are a specialist fintech investor who back growth stage companies in the areas of financial services and insurance (and related technologies) across Europe, Israel and the US. The investment was an extension of our recent $20M Series B funding completed in February, led by AlbionVC.
Quest is a behavioural-based insurance intelligence platform delivering portfolio management and predictive analytics capabilities using the latest advancements in big data, AI and machine learning. Both Quest Marine and Quest Automotive provide a scalable risk intelligence platform that ensures the insurance industry can review and respond to changes in risk exposure in real-time.
What inspired the start of Concirrus?
Craig Hollingworth and I cofounded Concirrus back in 2012 with the idea of orienting it to the then fashionable notion of the Internet of Things (IoT). The name, is derived from the Greek prefix ‘con’, meaning with, and ‘cirrus’, a type of cloud formation. In 2016 we decided to pivot and focus solely on insurance. We saw a gap in the market where marine insurance was underserved by technology. While there was a lot of data available no one was doing anything with it! The sheer amount of data out there and the capabilities of the modeling technology are fascinating to watch, and to see the market adapt, especially in these past six months, is great to see.
How is it different?
We’re the world’s first and only Insurtech fully focused on commercial insurance markets. Quest is changing the future of risk selection, pricing, and claims throughout the insurance value chain. We can access and interpret large sets of historic, semi-static, and real-time data, including segmentation factors not readily available to the market today. We have a competitive advantage through digitalisation and diversification by giving all stakeholders in the market a complete view of risk.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Quest Marine and Quest Automotive focus on the marine and motor insurance markets and is applicable to Insurers, Reinsurers, Brokers, and Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs. The marine market alone is substantial, encompassing $30bn of gross written premium.
What’s your business model?
We differentiate between efficiency and effectiveness. The marine market is very effective in the way it writes business but not very effective in terms of operating costs, etc. If you take profitability out of the equation nothing would need to change. The issue is the lack of profitability. We’re not looking to disrupt the process; we are fixing the efficiency of the process.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
From a business perspective, the pandemic has been a turning point for us. I’ve been impressed by the speed of change and the adoption of technology we’ve seen in the market for some time now however sometimes we are met with resistance. What’s been fascinating to see from our perspective is some of the changes we anticipated taking place in months/years has happened in days/weeks. The industry needs to understand that the nature of risk has changed as much as there has been a technology impact. The nature of the risk that’s being written by the market has been impacted significantly. Digitalisation is now inevitable – it is no longer up for debate whether we should accept technology or not. The debate is now how we go about using it.
I have also noticed in the absence of the face to face interaction most of the conversation is about the data and about behaviour. The wine menu is no longer available, but the data menu is here to stay.
What was the funding process like?
We are very fortunate in that we have a good profile for our business, some vocal customers, and a very engaged set of current investors. Our most recent round was reasonably straightforward in that we brought onboard an investor that had expressed interest in our last round but we were unable to accommodate them at that time. This time around they were the first people that we called and got a fairly immediate ‘yes’.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Funding is always an interesting process in that it requires you to take time away from the business and this is the major challenge. As the CEO you are patently close to the business and finding a concise way of explaining what the business does, how we drive value for customers, and how it makes money to ‘outsiders’.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
CommerzVentures recognised the great market opportunity, saw that we had a great product offering and they were highly impressed by the Concirrus leadership team. We have worked hard to assemble a highly experienced management team, combining highly relevant domain and functional experience. CommerzVentures were impressed with the team’s exceptional entrepreneurial drive. They believe that we have the potential to become the category leader in the insurance industry across the entire value chain.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We will be crossing over into different specialty lines and continuing with the diversity of products we produce etc. We are also looking to expand globally so watch this space.
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Appreciate and accept that everything will take longer than you expect – striking a balance between ambition and pragmatism is crucial and much of that approach is around being able to manage your own expectations. Another important element is understanding when to listen and when to ignore – I’d say ignore the naysayers but always pay attention and listen to the feedback from the market you’re in. Don’t give up and keep your head strong. Not a week goes by where we see entrepreneurs starting businesses and securing funding. However, their long-term success will be hinged upon their ability to face the challenging times – building the team, establishing processes, effectively interacting with customers, and creating real value in the market.
Appreciate and accept that everything will take longer than you expect – striking a balance between ambition and pragmatism is crucial and much of that approach is around being able to manage your own expectations
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the last 12 months, technology has moved from nice-to-have to must-have. As much as we’ve centered within the London Market, we know there are much wider international opportunities. In the last few months, we have spoken to people we’ve never spoke to before and the future holds lots more of these virtual clusters rather than just the London cluster. We’re very excited to deploy our capital to accelerate the market more widely.
What is your favorite restaurant in London?
Oh, this is easy… AppleBees in Borough Market. It’s right around the corner from our office and has the best fresh fish! Yummy!
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