The insurance industry is known to be slow to adopt technological capabilities, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated that adaptation within the sector — and insurtechs can be seen at the forefront of it. But simultaneously keeping up with innovation and compliance isn’t easy for any company.
And that’s why AgentSync was founded, to help insurance companies, insurtechs and others in the space remain compliant, AgentSync CTO Jenn Knight said in an interview with FinLedger.
AgentSync was co-founded by Knight and her spouse Niji Sabharwal. AgentSync CEO Sabharwal built the “compliance-as-a-solution tool” while he was at human resources technology company Zenefits to help correct major broker licensing violations. Sabharwal was able to get Zenefits to sign over the IP to AgentSync. Now, AgentSync helps create compliance tools that in turn help create efficiencies for insurtechs.
Now, Denver-based AgentSync, which was founded in 2018, has customers like insurtech companies Hippo and Lemonade. Recently, AgentSync raised a $6.7 million funding round led by SaaS founder David Sacks’ Craft Ventures along with other investors, TechCrunch reported. In late August, the startup raised a $4.4 million funding round. AgentSync has seen 10X ARR growth year over year.
Knight, who previously worked at Stripe, spoke with FinLedger about founding the company, its recent funding round, and what’s ahead.
FL: Tell me about co-founding AgentSync and why you started up this company?
Knight: For us kicking it off and tackling the space was really just solving what we felt was a real business problem for the industry, which is that there’s a lot of modernization happening. There’s a real demand from the regulators to be compliant. The systems that exist today are not meeting companies where they need to be in order to satisfy both what they want from a business side, like the Hippos and Lemonades who are coming in and changing the insurance game, while also managing that compliance requirement. That was where the origin story comes from. I have a long background in the Salesforce platform, and we decided that it was going to be a really great tool for us, as we thought about this from a business process problem perspective, to use that platform to go solve it.
FL: I know that AgentSync recently had a $6.7 million funding round, tell me about that raise and how the company plans to use the funding?
Knight: We’re using that money to continue to invest in people, talent and team with a main focus on product and engineering on my side. Then, also accelerating opportunistically some of the hires so we can go after some new parts of the market that we’re discovering. We have two more product offerings that we’re going to be coming out with in the next six months. A lot of the funding is going to staffing up the teams that are going to support those and then all the fun that comes along with that
FL: Where do you see AgentSync in a year from now?
Knight: For us, it’s really anchoring into that platform and understanding how we continue to expand that for the use cases we have today (by) going out into the different parts of the market. Then for the two new products, it’s helping to do that end-to-end lifecycle work is where we want to operate and live. We’ve seen — especially with Hippos, Lemonades, some of the newer insurtechs — a lot of opportunity for folks to, from the start, think about streamlined workflows. They’re really fun partners to work with, as well as folks internally at some of the larger, more established partners who are thinking about transforming their business.
That’s a lot of where we’re focused is just that platform play. How do we best support each piece of the puzzle for you in this complex environment where there’s continuing education, there are NIPR and FINRA requirements, there’s capturing agents upstream, and then there’s integrating with your systems downstream. That’s what the next year is going to be for us is focusing on nailing that part of the puzzle and helping folks not have to think about this. We can help them go think about the real challenges that they’re tackling in the insurance industry in terms of changing the way that all of us engage with brokers or engage with insurance in our day-to-day life and we can help them deal with the back office challenges and regulatory obligations.
FL: How did AgentSync adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Knight: Some plans internally slowed down. They needed to figure out how to get their workforces to work remotely before they could think about initiatives around putting in a new piece of software for compliance management… We don’t know where this pandemic is going, but thankfully to date, we haven’t been impacted by it in a negative way, either from an ability to run the business or from our customers perspective, outside of a small pause at the beginning of the year as folks adjusted on their own side to having more of their workforce work from home.
For us, a tool like ours, that’s built on the cloud, that’s built on Salesforce, it’s a great tool for remote workforces. We are helping empower that, if you had something that was maybe homegrown or a little bit more difficult to access, some people need to be in the office for it, making that transition to remote workforce can be a bit more difficult. We are Salesforce-backed and cloud-backed, we actually support that use case for our customers really well.
FL: What advice do you have for women in fintech?
Knight: I think more generally, creating space and opportunities for women to be in positions of leadership, and giving them the opportunity to be in spaces where they can be safe [with] failing, and recovering from that. I had great mentors along the way, people who pushed me to go do things that were scary. [For instance,] run large budgets, run a team that was larger than I had ever run before. And, were really honest with me about seeing that I was doing it for the first time and saying, ‘Hey, I know you’re doing it for the first time. Here’s what I think you’re going to be great at and expect you to do based on your past. Here’s where you’re going to be stretching and how I’m going to support you.’ And then, putting me in positions where I was uncomfortable and giving the opportunity to navigate through that.
Those are the skills that I brought to founding my own company and it’s scary. It’s always scary, I’m doing something new, but I could bring that prior experience and have people give me that opportunity and that support along the way. Women having that opportunity, just more generally is going to be something that helps us create a larger funnel to have [more] women entrepreneurs. Same thing in engineering, I think generally speaking there’s an education part, but there’s also an opportunity part of it. Did someone give you the opportunity to go tackle that? Did they support you through when it was challenging when you didn’t do it right? Did you get the feedback that you needed to help you learn how to do it better next time? Or were you just sort of left in the dark?