By John Cambier, Managing Partner
We are excited to announce that we recently made our 13th new investment out of IDEA Fund III, leading the Seed round for Fenris Digital out of Richmond, VA. We were exposed to Fenris multiple times over a short period in late 2020 via a couple insurtech programs we keep an eye on. Joe Darcy and John Cambier each saw the pitch independently of the other and both came away wanting to learn more.
As we dug in, it became increasingly clear that Fenris had all of the key attributes we look for in terms of the market, team, technology and momentum. We led what became an oversubscribed $2.75M round with nearly $1.5M from IFP.
You don’t need to have been paying too much attention in the startup and VC world over the last year to know that insurtech has been a hot space. Digital-first insurance carriers like Hippo and Lemonade have seen tremendous growth and valuations and are changing the way consumers expect to purchase from and interact with carriers. Taking a full-stack approach, they are using technology to drive all aspects of business operations from customer acquisition, to onboarding to underwriting and claims fulfillment. Similar to what we’ve seen in the fintech space, these disrupters are forcing the incumbents — both carriers and independent agents — to more fully digitize all aspects of their own operations. This is where Fenris comes in.
Fenris is a Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) company that, pulling from data sources covering over 250M individuals, 130M households and 100% of the addresses in the US, provides easily-accessible and actionable insights for insurance carriers and brokers in both the consumer and commercial sectors. While existing data providers like Verisk, LexisNexis and Experian do a strong business serving insurance carriers, Fenris is more flexible, easier to implement and has proprietary offerings such as its Personal Financial Responsibility score (the PFR). The PFR, with none of the regulatory overhead of a FICO score, can be used to help provide credit insights, indicate a likelihood to buy and alert a customer of potential fraud concerns at the front end of a sales process.
Much of this consumer data has become commoditized and is either publicly available or easily purchased. That is not to say that it is easy to clean, validate, ingest or integrate into one’s existing workflow or technology stack. Having previous experience with DaaS companies, we were able to see how Fenris was productizing its offering in a way to make it usable and valuable to companies as small as 10-person startups and as large as Aon.
In hearing the Fenris pitch, one thing that came through clearly was the relevant experience and complementary skills of the CEO and CTO. Jennifer Linton, the Founder/CEO, has over a decade of experience in the insurance industry, with Fenris as her 3rd startup adventure. Jay Bourland, CTO, previously the SVP of Engineering at Alteryx (where he helped take them through their 2019 IPO), brings the perfect experience in data prep, blending and analytics. The cherry on top for us comes in the form of the company’s main advisor and largest investor, Larry Rosenberger, creator of the FICO score and previous CEO of Fair Isaac.
As for momentum, things really started clicking when Jay came aboard full time in early 2020 and rebuilt the product. Due in no small part to the improvements to the platform and the ease of onboarding, the company saw revenue increase by 4x between Q1 and Q4 of last year.
We’re excited to be partnering with such an experienced and dynamic team with a product that is delivering clear value to hungry customers.