How An Insurtech Cofounder Perfected Her Pitch To Raise $17.5 Million In Venture Capital
How An Insurtech Cofounder Perfected Her Pitch To Raise $17.5 Million In Venture Capital
Some people may think insurance is boring, but not Maria Goy. She is passionate about it. As an executive at New York Life, she came to view insurance as a product that differentiates the haves and have nots.

Insurance can provide for your family in case of the death of a family wage earner, help pay for unexpected medical bills, and more. However, millennials—many of whom have postponed major life decisions, such as marriage, having children, and purchasing a home—are, no surprise, underinsured. Goy felt that if insurance were more affordable and easy to purchase, more millennials would buy it.

“I never anticipated being an entrepreneur,” said Goy. She sought stability in her career, choosing initially to work for Andersen Consulting, which is now Accenture, and, eventually, New York Life.

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But Goy, cofounder and COO at Spot, wanted to disrupt the insurance industry. Her insurtech startup squeezes out savings and efficiencies in the accident-injury insurance industry to make it more affordable and easy to purchase for millennials.

Raising Spot’s seed round was a journey that included self-reflection and personal growth, resulting in Goy refining her pitch to reflect better why she is the right person to lead the digitalization of the accident-injury insurance industry.

When Goy and Matt Randall, her cofounder, started Spot in 2017, they were focused on providing life insurance to millennials. After interviewing 5,000 millennials, “We discovered that the market was focused on living life while not planning for a life well-lived,” she said. But “What happens if somebody fell ill or was injured” were questions that kept coming up.

So, before they re-launched in September of 2019, the duo added medical injury insurance to their offering. They aggressively went after that market, selling directly to consumers and through strategic partnerships—the product resonated with the market.

Raising money from primarily male venture capitalists was an eye-opening experience. Goy came from a heavily male industry, but she had always had male mentors who supported her career growth. So it surprised to her how different it was pitching male VCs.

As an insurance and IT expert, she expected to be asked about the industry and technology, not about marketing and branding. However, as the woman on the founding team, male venture capitalists assumed she was the marketer.

Goy had to find her voice. “I didn’t have that in raising our first fundraising round,” she sighed. She grew up in a traditional Korean family culture. “I never felt oppressed in any way, but you defer to your elders. You defer to men.” She knew this attitude was holding her back but didn’t take action until a VC she especially wanted on her cap table didn’t invest.

The feedback Goy needed was provided by the lead venture partner. Like Goy, the VC was a Korean woman. The VC helped Goy dig into her issues. Knowing the strengths you bring to the table and not letting others pigeonhole you into a stereotype was the VC’s advice.

The VC pushed Goy to go beyond the beautiful visual story of the brand and marketing, which Randall addresses. That’s the cake’s outside; the VC told Goy. If this VC is going to invest, it’s what’s inside the cake that matters. Goy is in charge of what is inside the cake.

Why are you the right person to be in charge of operations? Talk about the backend and how you technically make everything work. Also, tell an exciting, inspirational story about who you are, what makes you tick, and why you founded a company in the insurance space.

Goy felt like she had let the company down by being quiet and leaning too much on her cofounder. Randall is a boisterous storyteller. “There’s nothing wrong with me amping myself up to tell my story,” she told herself.

She put a sticky note on her bathroom mirror and, for a month, repeated to herself, “I am the cake.” Goy meditated for a good amount of time to develop her talking points. Her friends sent her inspirational pictures of cakes.

Goy is the daughter of a Korean immigrant. Her mom came to the United States without speaking English, got her degree in mathematics and her master’s in software engineering. When Goy hit a coding obstacle during college, it was her mother who helped her problem solve.

The VC’s feedback permitted Goy to find her voice and let her passion and heart come out.

“The first exercise I did was to sit down and write my story,” said Goy, “I had forgotten my roots and what inspired me to start Spot.” To understand how others saw her, she asked her cofounder and her husband to write the intro to her pitch.

It was insightful to see herself through other peoples’ eyes. “I think that’s really powerful to understand how the world views you,” she said. They reminded her that at the time, she was the youngest executive officer at New York Life and that she wasn’t a staid corporate executive.

On her first day at New York Life, she had shown up with purple hair and visible tattoos. She is unafraid to take risks, like skydiving, but she mitigates risk. For example, tandem skydiving allowed her, as a first-time jumper, to experience the thrill of skydiving with no prior training.

Goy asked her mentors for feedback on her pitch, and she re-engaged with her previous leadership coach. “They helped me refine the pitch and reminded me of other challenges I hadn’t thought of that I’d overcome throughout my career,” said Goy.

She practiced her pitch on her mom, sisters, and girlfriends. She also practiced her pitch with her husband whenever they were driving together. He wanted her to maintain eye contact and not flinch if there were distractions like the dog barking and horns honking.

Her perseverance paid off. Last week the company announced it had raised $17.5 million, including $15 million in equity and $2.5 million in debt. The seed round was led by GreatPoint Ventures, with participation from Montage Ventures, Mutual of Omaha, MS&AD, and Silverton Partners. The company will use the new capital to grow the team, forge new partnerships, and ramp up marketing efforts.

What’s your story and how will you tell it?

Source: Forbes

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