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InsurTech Spotlight with Sam Evans

Welcome to the ABI InsurTech Spotlight, Week 5. Each week I’ll be putting questions to one of the movers and shakers of the UK InsurTech arena – the leaders of exciting InsurTech businesses, InsurTech and innovation leaders within ABI members companies, InsurTech experts, commentators and investors. This week we talk InsurTech funding with the Founder and General Partner of Eos Venture Partners, Sam Evans.

Hi Sam, could you tell us in a nutshell what Eos Venture Partners is all about?

Eos is an independent and specialist InsurTech investor. Our approach is underpinned by the following cornerstones:

  • Exclusively focused on InsurTech
  • Deals sourced globally
  • Thesis driven, manufactured approach [explained in Q3]
  • Insurer focused

What led to you taking the leap to establish Eos, and specialising so keenly on InsurTech?

From my previous work with insurers it was clear that InsurTech was going to have a fundamental impact on the insurance industry. There was a real opportunity to get involved at the ground level and drive positive change.

As that momentum has continued to build, we now face a seismic shift in the industry that we expect will create a $1 trillion shift in value between those that effectively embrace innovation and those that fail.

Finally, insurance is complex and therefore in our view demands specialist focus, with over a 100 years of combined experience in the team we felt we were ideally placed to make a telling contribution.

There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in insurance!

As an investor, talk to us about what you look for in a start-up. And what does the process look like once you find what you’re looking for?

We take a different approach. Rather than reacting to interesting start-ups we have a proactive investment strategy targeted at specific areas of interest.

We have analysed how insurance profit pools will develop over the next 3-5 years and mapped that against potential for innovation and current activity to identify “hot spots”. We then look at both new and more mature companies to assess whether, through amalgamating several complementary businesses, there is an opportunity to create a holistic platform solution to drive maximum impact. This is our thesis driven, manufactured deal approach.

The companies that we look for must therefore complement this market driven approach but also have outstanding individual capabilities. One the most important criteria is around the team dynamic and ensuring strong insurance knowledge, great technical skills and a mix of complementary behavioural characteristics across entrepreneurship, organisation, delivery and team work.

The process will vary depending on the complexity and size of the deal, the number of parties involved and our role. We prefer to lead and typically have a hands on role.

As someone embedded in the worlds of both incumbents and InsurTech start-ups, I’m interested in whether you feel that synergistic partnerships between the two will always trump start-ups trying to usurp the incumbents. Or is there still space for the latter?

The regulatory hurdles under Solvency II in Europe and the 50 State legislative framework in the US make creating a new standalone insurance company expensive, complex and time consuming.

There are some notable exceptions in countries like China but generally despite companies marketing a disruptor model, the reality is that the majority are still reliant in some form on incumbents, be it regulation or balance sheet support.

Our strong belief is that the greatest impact will be created by collaborative innovation working closely with existing insurers, reinsurers and brokers.

Eos is set up as a bridge between the old and new world, with investors in our fund coming from the insurance sector and motivated by both strategic and financial drivers. Their investment in Eos gives them access to a portfolio of new business models and underlying technology that can be tested, piloted and refined with a view to driving business model change.

We’ve seen that you’re building a global network, of which the UK is a key part. What’s your perspective on London, and the UK more broadly, as a place to innovate and grow an InsurTech business?

London is and will continue to be a key global InsurTech hub. However, it’s clear that innovation will be driven globally and therefore we have created a physical footprint covering London, East and West Coast of the US and will be opening an innovation lab in India in the second half of 2017. This will enable us to source deals globally.

In the UK, the FCA have done a great job encouraging innovation, with the Sandbox a true differentiator. Universities are getting involved, the Department of Trade is supporting start-ups as they look to expand overseas and organisations like the ABI provide additional support.

What keeps you busy away from work? Could you tell our readers something interesting or exciting about you?

We have an amazing team coming from a range of diverse backgrounds resulting in an eclectic mix of interests from gliding, cooking, wedding planning and right now Game of Thrones.

Finally, what would you expect to have achieved with Eos Venture Partners in a year’s time?

A year from now we expect our seven investments to have all raised their Series A or Series B funding, and we wouldn’t be surprised if there was an exit. We will also see traction in a number of game changing initiatives that we are sponsoring.

For example, one initiative through the combination of artificial intelligence, health tech and genomics has the potential to dramatically improve people’s lives by providing them access to affordable technology to target specific risk factors. This enables monitoring, early detection and intervention at the right time to drastically improve mortality rates. 

Last updated 15/09/2017