Rev1, Midwest VC firm, CEO Tom Walker talks insurtech

Rev1, Midwest VC firm, CEO Tom Walker talks insurtech

Our goal is to close a capital gap here in the region, we have partnerships with the large research institutions in our region. One is the Ohio State University, and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. So, just to use that as an example, we have a life science fund really targeted to life sciences and therapeutics, things of that nature in that industry. We do similar things with SaaS-related companies.

We have an insurtech fund, State Auto Labs, that we created with State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company. That allowed us to begin focusing on operational strategies that entrepreneurs were pursuing that could positively impact the insurance industry.

Our strategic approach is to take very targeted industries and build an investment thesis around those that can help entrepreneurs connect with industry early on and help them grow their companies.

State Auto is a hundred-year-old company, very established in the industry. Their senior leadership was driving internal cultural changes to affect change within their organization and we came together to work on just a piece of that, which was, how can we connect an established company with the disruptions that were being created by entrepreneurs around the country and that was the pure impetus of it. 

Fast forward several years, we’ve helped build a portfolio of companies that are around the country that have developed operational strategies or products or services that have helped State Auto and a host of other insurance companies.

One that’s been in the news most recently is a company called FlyReel. They were recently acquired by LexisNexis. They’re one of the first companies that allow insurance to see the inside of a home when rating a policy. So basically, you’re looking for new home insurance and typically you have an agent or someone that would come out to your house. What FlyReel provides is that doesn’t have to happen. The homeowner, using an app, can go into the closet where the hot water heater is, or the HVAC or anything like that, that the insurance company wants to know about. They take images that can be uploaded within the insurance company’s policy program and insurers can assess them.

It’s a very innovative strategic product that can be implemented within an established company. That’s kind of the interesting thing about insurtech. A lot of them aren’t necessarily insurance companies, but they’re really impacting the insurance industry itself.

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