The finale of the Pitch Your Startup competition rewarded the Insurtech startup, Descartes Underwriting, specialized in the modeling and prevention of climate risks. One more victory for the Parisian startup which is used to collecting trophies and has just raised 18.5 million euros.
Photo: Violaine Raybaud, Head Of Business Development at Descartes Underwriting / Credits © Descartes Underwriting
36 competitors, 8 finalists and a €50,000 grant. These are the key figures of the Pitch Your Startup competition whose semi-finals took place last March. The closing evening having been postponed for health reasons. The eight finalists from the Fintech, Regtech, Insurtech, AI Big data, Supply Chain, Cybersecurity, HRTech, Smart mobility and Healthtech sectors had five minutes to present their concept with the instruction to be “spectacular” according to the jury which included Philippe Linster, (House of Startups), Julia Zhou (Kairos Society Europe), Yannick Oswald (Mangrove Capital Partners), François Giotto (BIL), Amélie Madinier (Hub@Luxembourg) or Kolos Kaszaly (Docler Holding).
“As a tech company, Docler also began as a startup and has grown into an international company with over 1300 employees. We know how difficult it can be for startups. Especially during this ongoing pandemic, it can be even tougher for them to have the resources they need to succeed. We initiated the first Pitch Your Startup in 2015, and this year, we still wanted to keep our commitment to support new talents and uncover gems in this dynamic environment”, explains Karoly Papp, Docler Holding’s CEO.
Descartes Underwriting, represented by Violaine Raybaud, won the jury’s support in terms of content and form. “Our subject is to make companies more resilient to climate change” presented the young Head of Business Development who did not hesitate to show the jury live images of the West American forests ravaged by the fires that are currently raging there. Issues that speak for themselves. “We think our project has the potential to shift capital traditionally used elsewhere to green growth issues in a more sustainable way. “That’s the bottom line.
The technique used? Modelling using artificially intelligent predictive algorithms and a real-time reading of damage downstream of claims, thanks to parametric data reading. Hailstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, marine pollution… Thanks to the learning machine, the algorithm itself learns to recognize the type of risk linked to the sector it is given. The advantage of this technology? As always, optimization to save time. “Customer claims arrive in a few days, whereas it takes an average of 18 months with traditional techniques”.
The USA and Asia in 2021
Descartes Underwriting does not hide its international ambitions and already works exclusively with brokers “because they have an international network”. The startup based in La Défense business area in Paris wants to open offices in the USA, the world’s largest market, and in Asia, the one with the strongest growth in the last two years.
Violaine Raybaud has established contacts in Luxembourg that she wants to pursue in 2021: “I want to go further with Luxembourg. We are interested in the market because of the climatic risks linked to agricultural businesses, the stakes of industrial pollution, but above all because of the strong presence of insurance captives in the country. I also discovered the impressive startup ecosystem and the numerous sponsoring and logistical support that Luxembourg offers”.
Insurtech honor wall
Descartes Underwriting is not its first victory since the company was founded in 2018 by experienced insurers (from Axa, Swiss Re or Scor). It has already won the Finance for Tomorrow 2018 (sustainable finance) prize, Insurtech of the Year in 2019 by Finance Innovation and has recently won the European Finance Summit Startup Competition.
Eighteen months after raising €2 million from BlackFin Capital Partners, the Paris-based startup successfully raised €18.5 million in early September from leading global venture capital firms Serena Capital, Cathay Innovation and BlackFin Capital Partners.
“Our competitors are big brands and we want to be as credible as they are. We’ve gone from a startup to a high-growth, solidly anchored company. We expect to hire approximately 30 people in 2021, which will bring our workforce to 50 and make us the largest parametric insurance team. It’s a nice insurance that’s worth taking some risks, isn’t it?