立即打开
诞生于硅谷危机中的独角兽

诞生于硅谷危机中的独角兽

Matthew Heimer 2021-12-10
AgentSync专业从事“生产商管理”软件开发。

在初创界,虽说从失败中吸取教训是一条广为流传的经验之谈,但很少有人能够凭借这些教训创建一家全新公司,而能够让这家新公司成为十亿美元级“独角兽”的人更是凤毛麟角。

截至今日,保险科技初创企业AgentSync联合创始人兼首席执行官尼基·萨巴瓦尔便完成了这个不可思议的任务,其中部分归功于两位与他一道经历了痛苦学习历程的投资者。

总部位于丹佛的AgentSync专业从事“生产商管理”软件开发,“生产商管理”是保险行业的行话,意指跟踪行业成千上万独立销售代表的牌照和其他合规要求。萨巴瓦尔的妻子詹妮弗·奈特是AgentSync的联合创始人兼首席技术官。12月7日,AgentSync宣布以12亿美元的估值完成 7500万美元B轮融资。此轮融资由Valor Equity Partners领投,其首席执行官是安东尼奥·格拉西亚斯,其他参与者包括Craft Ventures(大卫·萨克斯是这家风投公司的联合创始人兼普通合伙人)。

萨巴瓦尔、格拉西亚斯和萨克斯三人有一个重要的共同点:他们在2015-2016年期间都曾供职于雇员福利软件公司Zenefits,当时,这家公司出现了重大合规问题。Zenefits专业为中小企业提供服务,而且开始利用其平台来进行保险销售。然而,该公司并没有对代理的牌照开展充分的尽职调查,随之而来的法律纠纷致使公司遭遇了一系列罚款及和解案件,最终,Zenefits创始人兼首席执行官帕克·康拉德也因此丢掉了饭碗。

AgentSync联合创始人尼基·萨巴瓦尔(左)与詹妮弗·奈特。图片来源:Courtesy of AgentSync

当时,格拉西亚斯是Zenefits的董事,而萨克斯是Zenefits的首要投资者,随后取代康拉德担任临时首席执行官。与此同时,萨巴瓦尔则被委以解决这个问题的重任。他很快了解到,代理合规界需要准备大量错综复杂的文件,而且使用的是过时的软件,数千名承保商和代理出现了严重的拖延问题,因为他们所遇到的牌照要求因州而异,而且有时是大相径庭。

在调查这一混乱局面时,萨巴瓦尔发现了一个商机:他可以开发能够加速和精简代理、承保商、监管方之间沟通流程的软件,并将其以软件即服务(SaaS)的形式进行销售,这样,险企就无需打造自己的产品。萨巴瓦尔对《财富》杂志说:“沟通的瓶颈不仅妨碍了险企的扩张,而且还阻碍了新公司的诞生。我们将把所有这些瓶颈从系统中剔除出去。”

在萨巴瓦尔提出名为“牌照+”(Licensing+)的理念之时,Zenefits已经剥离了保险业务。该公司将知识产权授权给了萨巴瓦尔。他与奈特在2018年成立了AgentSync。当时,这一理念给公司的一些未来投资者留下了深刻的印象。格拉西亚斯在一封邮件中对《财富》杂志说:“其中一些最好的点子、工作产品和职业成功都源于危机。尼基及其团队是这个混乱时代的无名英雄。”

AgentSync之后的增长也表明了萨巴瓦尔及其支持者对于这一机遇的看法是正确的。公司当前拥有100多名客户,从圣安东尼奥的GPM Life和日本的东京海上控股株式会社(Tokio Marine)这类大型承保商,一直到Lemonade和Hippo这类在线保险代理。该公司称,其年度经常性收入是一年前的3.5倍,且公司的员工数量在这一期间翻了一番,达到了约100人。

如今,该公司是保险基础设施领域唯一的独角兽企业,但萨巴瓦尔认为,随着该行业经历更多的数字重塑,其他公司也将不断涌现出来。他用智能手机打了个比方,智能手机是一种能够节省时间的强大科技工具,依靠大量的小部件来运转。他解释说:“所有智能手机都有Wi-Fi天线,小而便宜的数据存储器以及持久耐用的电池。你需要10-12种不同的部件才能完美地组装一部这样的设备。总有人会去组建该行业类似于智能手机的事物,而我们要做的就是充当Wi-Fi天线的角色,也就是成为助力这些人实现目标的公司之一。”

重点是AgentSync不会成为像苹果公司(Apple)或三星(Samsung)之类的科技品牌公司,但会为以此为目标的公司提供助力,并成为这一高盈利小众市场的主导者。如果这一设想得以实现,那么萨巴瓦尔及其投资者在Zenefits公司的那段惊险历程将功不可没。Craft Ventures的萨克斯在一封邮件中对《财富》杂志说:“我当时就说过,‘合规就像是氧气’。它对在受高度管制环境中经营的公司来说一种必需品……如果AgentSync能够像过去三年那样一如既往地重视合规,那么它或将成为这个生态系统的主导者。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

在初创界,虽说从失败中吸取教训是一条广为流传的经验之谈,但很少有人能够凭借这些教训创建一家全新公司,而能够让这家新公司成为十亿美元级“独角兽”的人更是凤毛麟角。

截至今日,保险科技初创企业AgentSync联合创始人兼首席执行官尼基·萨巴瓦尔便完成了这个不可思议的任务,其中部分归功于两位与他一道经历了痛苦学习历程的投资者。

总部位于丹佛的AgentSync专业从事“生产商管理”软件开发,“生产商管理”是保险行业的行话,意指跟踪行业成千上万独立销售代表的牌照和其他合规要求。萨巴瓦尔的妻子詹妮弗·奈特是AgentSync的联合创始人兼首席技术官。12月7日,AgentSync宣布以12亿美元的估值完成 7500万美元B轮融资。此轮融资由Valor Equity Partners领投,其首席执行官是安东尼奥·格拉西亚斯,其他参与者包括Craft Ventures(大卫·萨克斯是这家风投公司的联合创始人兼普通合伙人)。

萨巴瓦尔、格拉西亚斯和萨克斯三人有一个重要的共同点:他们在2015-2016年期间都曾供职于雇员福利软件公司Zenefits,当时,这家公司出现了重大合规问题。Zenefits专业为中小企业提供服务,而且开始利用其平台来进行保险销售。然而,该公司并没有对代理的牌照开展充分的尽职调查,随之而来的法律纠纷致使公司遭遇了一系列罚款及和解案件,最终,Zenefits创始人兼首席执行官帕克·康拉德也因此丢掉了饭碗。

当时,格拉西亚斯是Zenefits的董事,而萨克斯是Zenefits的首要投资者,随后取代康拉德担任临时首席执行官。与此同时,萨巴瓦尔则被委以解决这个问题的重任。他很快了解到,代理合规界需要准备大量错综复杂的文件,而且使用的是过时的软件,数千名承保商和代理出现了严重的拖延问题,因为他们所遇到的牌照要求因州而异,而且有时是大相径庭。

在调查这一混乱局面时,萨巴瓦尔发现了一个商机:他可以开发能够加速和精简代理、承保商、监管方之间沟通流程的软件,并将其以软件即服务(SaaS)的形式进行销售,这样,险企就无需打造自己的产品。萨巴瓦尔对《财富》杂志说:“沟通的瓶颈不仅妨碍了险企的扩张,而且还阻碍了新公司的诞生。我们将把所有这些瓶颈从系统中剔除出去。”

在萨巴瓦尔提出名为“牌照+”(Licensing+)的理念之时,Zenefits已经剥离了保险业务。该公司将知识产权授权给了萨巴瓦尔。他与奈特在2018年成立了AgentSync。当时,这一理念给公司的一些未来投资者留下了深刻的印象。格拉西亚斯在一封邮件中对《财富》杂志说:“其中一些最好的点子、工作产品和职业成功都源于危机。尼基及其团队是这个混乱时代的无名英雄。”

AgentSync之后的增长也表明了萨巴瓦尔及其支持者对于这一机遇的看法是正确的。公司当前拥有100多名客户,从圣安东尼奥的GPM Life和日本的东京海上控股株式会社(Tokio Marine)这类大型承保商,一直到Lemonade和Hippo这类在线保险代理。该公司称,其年度经常性收入是一年前的3.5倍,且公司的员工数量在这一期间翻了一番,达到了约100人。

如今,该公司是保险基础设施领域唯一的独角兽企业,但萨巴瓦尔认为,随着该行业经历更多的数字重塑,其他公司也将不断涌现出来。他用智能手机打了个比方,智能手机是一种能够节省时间的强大科技工具,依靠大量的小部件来运转。他解释说:“所有智能手机都有Wi-Fi天线,小而便宜的数据存储器以及持久耐用的电池。你需要10-12种不同的部件才能完美地组装一部这样的设备。总有人会去组建该行业类似于智能手机的事物,而我们要做的就是充当Wi-Fi天线的角色,也就是成为助力这些人实现目标的公司之一。”

重点是AgentSync不会成为像苹果公司(Apple)或三星(Samsung)之类的科技品牌公司,但会为以此为目标的公司提供助力,并成为这一高盈利小众市场的主导者。如果这一设想得以实现,那么萨巴瓦尔及其投资者在Zenefits公司的那段惊险历程将功不可没。Craft Ventures的萨克斯在一封邮件中对《财富》杂志说:“我当时就说过,‘合规就像是氧气’。它对在受高度管制环境中经营的公司来说一种必需品……如果AgentSync能够像过去三年那样一如既往地重视合规,那么它或将成为这个生态系统的主导者。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Learning from mistakes is a widely shared experience in the startup community. Turning those lessons into the foundation for a whole new company is considerably rarer—and having that company attain a billion-dollar unicorn valuation is rarer still.

As of today, Niji Sabharwal, the cofounder and CEO of insurance-tech startup AgentSync, can lay claim to this unusual trifecta, thanks in part to two investors who went through the painful learning process with him.

Denver-based AgentSync specializes in software for “producer management”—insurance jargon for keeping track of licensing and other compliance requirements among the industry’s hundreds of thousands of independent sales agents. Sabharwal’s spouse, Jenn Knight, is AgentSync’s cofounder and chief technology officer. The company today announced a $75 million Series B funding round that values the company at $1.2 billion. Leading the round is Valor Equity Partners, whose CEO is Antonio Gracias; among the other participants is Craft Ventures, whose cofounder and general partner is David Sacks.

The key common denominator among Sabharwal, Gracias, and Sacks: All three were involved with employee-benefits software company Zenefits in 2015 and 2016, when that company ran into a huge compliance problem. Zenefits, which specializes in serving small and medium-size companies, had begun using its platform to enable insurance sales. But the company didn’t do sufficient due diligence around agents’ licensing, and the resulting legal entanglements led to a series of fines and settlements and eventually cost Zenefits founder and CEO Parker Conrad his job.

Gracias was a Zenefits board member at the time, and Sacks, a major Zenefits investor, wound up replacing Conrad as interim CEO. Sabharwal, meanwhile, was tasked with fixing the problem. He soon learned that the agent-compliance world was a tangled thicket of burdensome paperwork and antiquated software, where thousands of carriers and agents faced epic delays as they navigated licensing requirements that varied, sometimes drastically, from state to state.

Surveying the mess, Sabharwal spotted a business opportunity: He could build software that would speed up and streamline communication among agents, carriers, and regulators, selling it as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that would spare insurers from having to build their own product. “We’d be taking all these bottlenecks out of the system,” Sabharwal told Fortune. “Those bottlenecks keep insurance companies from scaling up, and block new companies from forming, too.”

By the time Sabharwal came up with the concept, called Licensing+, Zenefits had gotten out of the insurance business; it licensed the IP to Sabharwal, and he and Knight launched AgentSync in 2018. By then, the concept had made a strong impression on some of their future investors. “Some of the best ideas, work products, and career successes are born out of crises,” Gracias told Fortune in an email. “Niji and his team were the unsung heroes during a chaotic time.”

AgentSync’s growth since then suggests that Sabharwal and his backers were right about the opportunity. The company currently claims more than 100 customers, ranging from large carriers, such as San Antonio–based GPM Life and Japan’s Tokio Marine, to online insurance agencies like Lemonade and Hippo. The company says its annual recurring revenue is 3.5 times what it was a year ago, and its staff has almost doubled over that span, to about 100.

The company is now the only unicorn in the insurance infrastructure space, but Sabharwal thinks it will be the first of many, as the industry goes through more digital reinvention. He used the analogy of a smartphone, a powerful technological time-saver that relies on lots of little components to work. “There’s no smartphone without a Wi-Fi antenna, cheap and small data storage, long-lasting batteries,” he explained. “You need 10 or 12 different items to line up perfectly. Somebody’s going to invent the smartphone of the industry; we’re going to be the Wi-Fi antenna, one of the companies that gets them there.”

The upshot: AgentSync won’t ever be an Apple- or Samsung-like tech brand name, but it could occupy a profitable niche powering whoever that turns out to be. If that scenario comes true, Sabharwal and his investors will have their white-knuckle experience at Zenefits to thank. “As I said back then, ‘Compliance is like oxygen,’” Sacks of Craft Ventures told Fortune in an email. “It’s a critical need for companies operating in a highly regulated environment…AgentSync can own this ecosystem if they continue to execute as they have over the last three years.”

热读文章
热门视频
扫描二维码下载财富APP
    <blink id='IGC'><caption></caption></blink>
      <blockquote></blockquote>
      <kbd id='AqPC'><option></option></kbd>
      <tt id='NrSv'><blockquote></blockquote></tt><sub id='Xv'><marquee></marquee></sub>
        <thead id='HBM'><cite></cite></thead><acronym id='vwRUDxwk'><s></s></acronym>
        <legend></legend>
        <dfn id='HkhqT'><blockquote></blockquote></dfn><acronym id='cDuWvrk'><strong></strong></acronym>