Brewer Lane Ventures launches with eyes firmly on insurtech

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A new venture capital group, Brewer Lane Ventures, has launched with a strong insurtech pedigree.

Founder and managing partner John Kim is known for launching New York Life Ventures in 2012, one of the first carrier-side venture arms. He is joined by Martha Notaras, who has been a partner in XL Innovate since its inception in 2015. The executives expect their skill sets and knowledge to yield a strong, diverse fund in their new chapter at Brewer Lane.

“John and I have very complementary experience -- at the most obvious level, P&C for me and life for him have been our focuses,” Notaras, who also will be a managing partner, says. “But really it is about a broader range of insurtech as well as fintech -- within Brewer Lane our expectation is that a substantial majority of the investments will be focused on insurtech but we have the flexibility to invest in fintech as well.”

In addition to Kim and Notaras, the new company has added principals Chris Downer and George Castineiras. Downer had been at Sorenson Ventures and XL Innovate, while Castineiras was SVP at Prudential Financial and managing director at Gibraltar Ventures.

Notaras says that the new group will focus its efforts on insurtechs offering new business models, leveraging insights from data and analytics and will also have an eye toward empowering incumbents. It’s targeting investments in Series A and B.

“We’re at an inflection point where we’re starting to see real winners emerge and new startups address new problems,” she says. “The incumbents are paying attention in 2020 in a way they weren’t in 2015. They’ve become better partners to the insurtechs. We’ve moved away from $100,000 pilots to multi-million dollar agreements.

“That is encouraging to other entrepreneurs and other incumbents,” she adds. “It’s exciting that we are now in a position where instead of being in a single limited-partner fund, I have a different situation where I know a fair number of people across insurance and can add value by connecting portfolio companies across the industry.”

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