Lula, a Miami-based insurance coverage infrastructure startup, introduced right this moment it has raised $18 million in a Collection A spherical of funding.
Founders Fund and Khosla Ventures co-led the spherical, which additionally included participation from SoftBank, hedge fund supervisor Invoice Ackman, Shrug Capital, Steve Pagliuca (Bain Capital co-chairman and Boston Celtics proprietor), Tiny Capital’s Andrew Wilkinson. Present backers comparable to Nextview Ventures and Florida Funders additionally put cash within the spherical, along with numerous insurance coverage and logistics teams comparable to Flexport.
The startup’s self-proclaimed mission is to offer corporations of all sizes — from startups to multinational firms — with insurance coverage infrastructure. Consider it as a “Stripe for insurance coverage,” its founders say.
Based by 25-year-old twin brothers and Miami natives Michael and Matthew Vega-Sanz, Lula truly emerged from one other enterprise the pair had began whereas in school.
“We couldn’t afford to have a automotive on campus and needed pizza one evening,” Michael remembers. “So I believed it might be cool if there was an app that allow me lease a automotive from one other pupil, after which I believed ‘Why don’t we construct it?’ We then constructed the ugliest app you’ve ever seen nevertheless it allowed us to lease vehicles from different folks on the campus.” It was the primary firm to permit 18-year-olds to lease vehicles with out restrictions, the brother say.
By September 2018, they formally launched the app past the campus of Babson School, which they had been attending on scholarships. Inside eight days of launching, the brothers say, the app grew to become one of many prime apps on Apple’s App Retailer. The pair dropped out of faculty, and inside 12 months, they’d vehicles accessible on greater than 500 school campuses in the USA.
“As you possibly can think about we wanted to ensure there was insurance coverage protection on every rental. We pitched it to 47 insurance coverage corporations and so they all rejected us,” Michael mentioned. “So we developed our personal underwriting methodologies or underwriting instruments into the operations and had the bottom incident fee within the trade.”
As the corporate grew, it started partnering with automotive rental suppliers (assume smaller gamers, not Enterprise, et al.) to complement its provide of autos. In doing so, the brothers quickly realized that essentially the most compelling side of their providing was the insurance coverage infrastructure they’d constructed into it.
“Our rental corporations start to place a good portion of their enterprise by means of our platform, and at some point one known as us and requested if they might begin utilizing the software program within the insurance coverage infrastructure we’d constructed out in the remainder of our enterprise.”
That was in early 2020, proper earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“At that second, we started to comprehend, ‘Hey possibly the large alternative right here shouldn’t be a car-sharing app for school college students, however possibly the large alternative right here is one thing with insurance coverage,’” Michael mentioned.
A number of weeks later, the duo shut down their core enterprise and by April 2020, they pivoted to constructing out Lula because it exists right this moment.
“In the identical means that Stripe has constructed a cost API that eliminates the necessity for corporations to construct their very own cost infrastructure, we determined we might construct an insurance coverage API that eliminates the necessity for corporations to construct their very own insurance coverage infrastructure,” Matthew mentioned. “Firms would now not have to construct out inside insurance coverage methods or instruments. Not would they should take care of insurance coverage brokers to obtain them protection. Not would they should take care of insurance coverage groups. We are able to combine on to a platform and deal with all issues insurance coverage for corporations and their clients by way of our API.”
By August of 2020, the corporate launched an MVP (minimal viable product) and since then has been rising about 30% month over month after reaching profitability in its first 4 months.
At this time, Lula provides a “totally built-in suite” of technology-enabled instruments comparable to buyer vetting, fraud detection, driver historical past checks, and coverage administration and claims dealing with by means of its insurance coverage companions. It has a ready record of practically 2,000 corporations and raised its funding to satisfy that demand.
“The principle objective for elevating capital was so we will construct out the staff crucial to satisfy demand and maintain progress shifting ahead,” Matthew mentioned. “And other than that, we additionally simply wish to additional develop the expertise — whether or not or not it’s within the ways in which we’re accumulating knowledge so we will get extra granular and make smarter selections or simply optimizing our vetting system. We’re additionally simply working towards growing a way more sturdy API.”
Present shoppers embrace ReadyDrive, a car-sharing program for the U.S. navy and a “ton of SMBs,” the brothers say. Investor Flexport shall be conducting a pilot with the corporate.
“Each time a trucker picks up a load or supply, as a substitute of paying month-to-month insurance policies, they are going to have the ability to pay for insurance coverage for the 2 to 3 days they’re on the street solely,” Michael says. “Additionally, if somebody is delivery a container by way of Flexport, they’ll add cargo protection on the level of sale and get an extra layer of safety.”
Finally, Lula’s aim is to behave as a service in some capability.
Founders Fund’s Delian Asparouhov believes that the best way millenials and Gen Zers make the most of bodily belongings is “wildly completely different” than prior generations.
“We grew up in a shared economic system world, the place apps like Uber, GetAround, Airbnb have allowed us to episodically make the most of belongings quite than buy them outright,” he mentioned.
Regardless of their current success, the brothers emphasize that the journey to get so far was not at all times a glamorous one. Born to Puerto Rican and Cuban mother and father, they grew up on a small south Florida farm.
“We began our firm out of our dorm room and initially emailed 532 buyers solely to get one response,” Michael mentioned. “Founders simply see the headlines however I simply wish to advise them to remain persistent and actually preserve at it. I’m not afraid to share that the corporate began off gradual.”