180° Seguros, a startup that offers insurance and assistance for companies in Brazil, announced on Wednesday that it raised $31.4 million in a Series A round led by 8VC. Besides the fund, which was already an investor in the startup, Dragoneer, Monashees, Atlantico, Quartz, and Norte participated in the contribution.
The startup was founded in 2020 to seize the opportunity of the low penetration of insurance in Brazil, according to the co-founder and CEO of the startup, Mauro Levi D’Ancona. 2021 was a year of validation for the startup, which closed with eight clients such as corporate benefits company Caju and Zul+, in which 180° guarantees property insurance for vehicles parked on the street. D’Ancona saw that the model had traction.
In 180°'s business, the startup sells insurance products through partners, such as unicorn Loft. When a user buys a flat through Loft, they have home insurance guaranteed through 180°. In 2021, the company received Seed funding of R$44 million from Canary, Dragoneer, Rainfall, and 8VC funds. Since then, 180° has launched nine products and services across eight different channels.
Last month alone, 180° closed seven new clients, one of them a company with more than 10 million users. “We validated what we did. We are with a super good team, with 50 people. Even before we prepared for a round, both our current and new investors started noticing this moment and came after us with proposals to raise at the end of last year, with one of the largest investments in the region for this stage,” said D’Ancona.
Proceeds will be directed to new hires, doubling the team to 100 people. Half of the vacancies will go to strengthen the technology team. Another destination for the money is strategic partnerships or even joint ventures with large clients. “We need to be relevant to our partners”, explains the executive.
D’Ancona explains that for clients such as neobanks, for example, which have a large user base but do not sell insurance, a partnership in which the companies create products together and share costs and revenues may make more sense instead of 180° making an insurance product for the company and splitting the commission with it.
The startup aims to reach one million items sold by the end of the year, reaching up to three hundred thousand customers indirectly.
The startups’ bet: the embedded insurance
Since Brazil’s insurance regulator, Susep, began adopting a regulatory innovation agenda, promoting sandbox initiatives similar to what the Central Bank did in the past with fintechs, the number of Brazilian insurtechs, or those seeking Brazil as a market, has grown. To differentiate itself in the market, 180° is betting on the strategy of creating unique products for each distribution channel, in a methodology known as “embedded insurance”, which has become popular in Brazil.
It is the same idea as Stere.io, a NY-based startup that arrived in Brazil recently with the Insurance as a Service strategy. The company was launched in May 2021 by Turkish entrepreneur Dogan Kaleli. “When we noticed the trend of embedded insurance, we founded Stere as a marketplace for non-traditional channel companies to connect with insurers to find products and embed,” he said.
In December 2021, Stere raised its first $2 million round led by Fin VC, with participation from Plug and Play Ventures, Sandalphon Capital, and Hartford Investment Management Company (HIMCO).
“Now we have launched a second product, an integration hub, a non-traditional channel in which the client can integrate with us just once without worrying about integrations with insurers, embedding different products in the same channel,” explains Kaleli. Stere has six customers in Brazil, among them a company that serves 40 million users, for whom the startup is implementing a personal accident insurance product.
Kaleli sees, in Brazil, market competitors moving towards partnerships with API integrations and collaborations, rather than competition.
According to 180° Seguros, the collection of the insurance market in Brazil reached R$303 billion in 2021, considering the mobile year to October, representing a growth of 12.6% compared to the same period of the previous year. Estimates by the Brazilian National Confederation of Insurers point to a growth of up to 14.1% at the close of 2021 over 2020, disregarding health insurance and DPVAT (a mandatory insurance in Brazil that provides compensation to victims of accidents caused by autos).
For D’Ancona, just as there is a deficit of insurance adoption in Brazil, there is room for several companies in the market.
“It’s not like the neobanks market today that to grow you need to take clients from someone. The insurance market has to double in size, and Brazil is a [insurance] market that, even in an economic crisis, is growing at 10% a year for the last 10 years. It’s not necessarily a win-win. These companies are coming to Brazil because there is a regulatory environment now that allows new entrants. We have a very large opportunity to win new clients and we have numerous lines of business to focus on,” said 180°'s CEO.
Today, 180° Seguros’ focus is on property market products, life insurance, and insurance sold through retailers. 180° works with some 27 insurers to bring the appropriate product to each sales channel.
Startups in Brazil, such as Creditas and Pier, have also bet on the insurance sector but focused on cars.
D’Ancona believes that Susep’s innovation agenda will remain independent of the Brazilian government, just as it was with the Central Bank. “The market continues to grow, even in an election year, the insurance market has to double, so the opportunity is still very big.”