It’s been quite a few years since I sat down with Oliver Holle over beers on a very windy street in central London, chatting about European startups, the need for a high-level tech blog covering Europe and the ambitions of his VC fund, Speedinvest, to grow out of Austria and expand its coverage and investments into what we often refer to as the ‘Alps / Adria’ region.
The development of Austria and Vienna as tech and startup hubs since that windy London day has been remarkable to witness. Pioneers Festival puts on a great show each year in the amazing Hofburg Palace. Speedinvest itself has grown, raised fresh funding and partnered with the investment arm of Pioneers, predictably called Pioneers Ventures. For those of you who haven’t taken the time to visit Vienna and the Festival in late May, I always recommend it.
So it was with great pleasure I learned recently that the Speedinvest team, headed by partner Marie-Helene Ametsreiter, has made their first investment in my home town – Zagreb, Croatia. Speedinvest has invested €450,000 in Amodo, a company in the area of insurance technology.
Many of us would find the topic of insurance extremely boring. Be that as it may, there’s some serious €€€ in that sector, and if the Amodo team, on the back of this investment, is able to introduce some efficiency to the industry, they might very well do quite well.
Amodo, in a nutshell, does ‘usage based insurance’. In other words, it will help insurance companies understand the risk of insuring you, dear Tech.eu reader, not based on some statistics pulled out of a dusty drawer, but based on specific data about your own behaviour: driving patterns, habits, eating, sleeping, working out… By connecting your car and your fitness bracelet or smart watch to their software, they might help you save money on insurance, while at the same time helping your insurance company better understand and calculate your risk profile individually instad of statistically.
I asked Amodo CEO Marijan Mumdžiev who their main customers are. Predictably, there are insurance companies – but also telcos. I asked him what gives.
“Telecom operators are offering their customers an increasing range of connectivity and IoT related products and services, such as ‘connected home’ and other solutions. Working with us, they are able to branch out into insurance services as well, and for us this is essentially a distribution channel,“ Mumdžiev said.
Amodo is currently working with a list of customers in and around the Central and Eastern Europe region, as well as Italy. These include Generali, BNP Paribas, Telekom Austria, Deutsche Telekom and the Slovenian insurer Triglav. Why, I asked, did they decide to go with Speedinvest?
“We really liked their business model and the way they get operationally involved with the companies they invest in, helping to refine the business model, sales offering and to open doors at potential customers. Furthermore, our key target market in the next growth stage is Central and Eastern Europe where Speedinvest has a very strong network,” he said.
Aren’t they worried that customers will be reluctant to make all of this data, from their smartwatch to their cars, readily available to Amodo and its telco and insurance customers?
“That’s what I call a ‘meeting room topic’,” responded Mumdžiev. “It keeps coming up in meetings, but when we actually offer customers the opportunity to use the product, they love it.”
Speedinvest partner Marie-Helen Ametsreiter has a strong background not only in telecoms but also in Croatia – she used to be CEO of Croatian mobile operator Vipnet, part of the Telekom Austria group. I was wondering what made Amodo so attractive to the Speedinvest partners?
“Three things, basically,” Ametsreiter told me. “Insurance is a great space to be in for a startup since it’s a very significant business that’s more than ready for disruption. We liked the Amodo team and, finally, we liked that they take a holistic view of the business. As for Speedinvest, we believe we can support the guys through our network, opening up potential customers and partnerships. Of course we will also help and work with the company in the inevitable next stages of fundraising.”
To be continued, no doubt.
Photo credits: Amodo, Speedinvest, Ivo Spigel