Waffle raises $5M, utilizing MIT research to assess risk and sell insurance products

Insurtech startup Waffle — which bills itself as an “Amazon for insurance” — is rolling out its insurance marketplace for consumers while also revealing a $5 million round of seed funding.

The round is led by Verve Ventures, with participation from BetterLabs Ventures and Techstars.

The $5 million in funding will fuel Waffle’s launch of five insurance products available through its new iOS app and website. Policies are being sold in all 50 states. New York City-based Waffle says consumers initially can shop for pet, travel, life, cyber and renters insurance. Homeowners and auto insurance policies will be available in June.

In a jab at a more established competitor, Waffle notes that Lemonade launched with only one insurance product in three states.

Waffle’s insurance partners include MassMutual’s Haven Life (life), Blink by Chubb (cyber), Crum & Forster Pet Insurance (pet), Arch RoamRight (travel), Clearcover (auto) and Boost (renters). 

“Haven Life is always focused on making life insurance as accessible and simple as possible,” Jason Krasula, head of distribution and strategy at Haven Life, said in a news release. “Partnering with Waffle enables us to get important financial protection products directly to the customers who want seamless, affordable and dependable options.”

Waffle says its technology sets it apart from insurtech rivals. The technology includes a proprietary risk model called Galileo and a risk mitigation engine named Y.O.D.A. (Your Own Derisking Assistant). Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) gave rise to Waffle’s technology.

“Insurance is one of the most important and necessary things in a person’s life, yet it’s also one of the most frustrating,” MIT graduate Quentin Coolen, co-founder and CEO of Waffle, said in a news release. “Americans are constantly struggling when it comes to insurance: less than ideal coverage, the cost of needing to go out of network, lack of risk mitigation … . It doesn’t need to be this difficult or convoluted of a process, and that’s why we set out to make Waffle. We want to provide people with a sense of security and safety when it comes to the things that matter most in their lives.” 

Wassim Matar, managing partner of London-based Verve Ventures, said his firm invests in companies like Waffle that are changing the way the world works with science and technology.

“Waffle is doing just that by revolutionizing how the average person insures the most important parts of their life,” Matar said in the Waffle news release. “Insurance affects everybody and everything, which is why we want to invest in companies like Waffle that are improving upon the very antiquated and out-of-touch system we currently operate under.”

Aside from being co-founder and CEO of Waffle, Coolen is a human rights attorney, speechwriter and policy adviser. The other co-founders are Sam Barnsley, chief operating officer, and Michael Li, chief data scientist. Barnsley also is a chemist and banker, while Li is an expert in math and artificial intelligence. The three men came up with the Waffle concept in 2017 at MIT.

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