“Insurance companies should invest in startups because of their capacity to foster industry gorwth. AXA Strategic Venture is set to become the engine for startups that have the potential to disrupt insurance and make it more attractive for Millennials ” Mr Tran, General Partner at AXA Strategic Ventures Europe, in an exclusive interview with StartupItalia! has declared: “We have already made public our first investment in an Italian startup (750k for Floome) and we will not stop here”
Mr Tran, two years ago you decided to launch AXA Strategic Ventures, why did you decide to launch it and what results have you achieved so far?
We are now celebrating the two years anniversry since the launch of the AXA investment fund, but in order to understand why we have taken this path we need to go back to 2013. At that time, we began to invest in startups with AXA Seed Factory, a seed fund launched in France with a capitalisation of € 10million. After the success of our first initiative, we have decided to keep focusing on this strategy by creating AXA Strategic Ventures, a venture capital fund with a capitalisation of € 250 million, which aims to fund startups that bring strategic innovations in the following sectors: insurance, asset management, industry,technology, financial & health services. In 2017 we will increase the capitalization adding another € 150million, so that we can manage a total capital of €400 million.
Currently, we are working in Europe and the US with 4 offices and 12 dedicated people. In the last two years we have made 20 investments and at the moment we are planning a new scouting phase that will involve around 2000 startup.
In the coming months, which sectors are you planning to invest in? Is Italy within your radar?
As we move forward, we are very keen on cloud computing investments. In particular, we are seeking startups projects that can help our agents improving their working performances. However, this is just one of the sector we are focusing on. Indeed, we are interested in every technology that can further improve the insurance market. In this regard, it is very interesing for us to also looking at the following: Big Data, IoT, Blockchain and predictive analysis. So, we are paying attention to every technology that can facilitate doing business in our sector and having a disruptive impact on it. As for Italy, we have just announced our first investment: € 750K on Floome. We are now launching a proper investment fund in Italy and we intend to soon beginning our scouting activity for startups. Our goal is to first invest in 4 to 6 startups that want to grow nationally as well as internationally.
Which startup criteria are the most important for you? How does the scouting and selection process work?
I take care of early stage startups. In this regards, there are three things I value the most: the team, the business model and the ability to fill a gaop in the market. First of all, in order to build startup you need a successful team that works well, which is able to efficiently work with us. Then, it is also very important to have a successful business model and, finally, you need to have your market analysis properly done. The product needs to fullfil specific requirementa and should be combined with our needs.
About Insurtech. To what extent can the impact of disruptive start-ups be relevant for insurers?
Every year we are engaged in scouting activities for over 2000 startup. The 10% of these startup are focused on how to chage the insurance sector. The 35% aspire to create an innovative product, perhaps using Big Data and Machine Learning or focusing on customization. The 50% instead focuses on the distribution of insurance products from offline to online and the 15% focuses on the claim, from the manual to the cloud. I believe that startups in the insurance sector can have a disruptive impact just as the ones in the music industry. They just need to work over technology innovation, people changing needs and they have to create new business models.
Insurance and Millennials. How can the insurance sector becoming more attractive for young consumers?
The insurance sector must undergo profound changes and improving its abitlity to attract Millennials needs. We have already made several investments in this regard. The insurance sector of the future must be mobile and interactive. We expect to see an improvement in communications methods. We expect to see a young consumer using social netowork with his agent and to chat with him using active chatbot 24 hours. We aim to witness a fundamental change, we would like to see young costumers using messenger with their agents; rather than expecting to receive a visit from them