Last month Insurtech Gateway Australia chief executive Simon O’Dell told Insurance Business about the three start-ups they are currently incubating; now we get to know one of them before its official unveiling slated for next year.
Connected car insurance company Koba, which recently closed its $250,000 angel funding round, is in the thick of getting itself ready for rollout – searching for capacity providers; ensuring operational key performance indicators are met; and running a pilot, tentatively in April 2021, ahead of a full-market launch at a later date.
Melbourne-based founder Andrew Wong (pictured), when asked about the start-up’s journey, noted that it all began in 2019 prior to his return from the US.
“About this time last year,” recalled Wong, “we started to look at technology products and workable solutions that are having some great traction and success in the US and Europe, with the goal of creating a technology and a product partnership, and bringing the solution back to Australia.
“The focus is really about taking leverageable tech and proven solutions and rolling it out here.”
Then the pandemic hit, which allowed Wong to see a problem he could solve.
He stated: “Very quickly a lot of us realised that we weren’t driving a car anymore, and car insurance prices were staying the same. It didn’t matter whether we were driving or not, and what we recognised was that surely our risk had changed.
“And so finding a solution like a pay-as-you-drive solution really offers the customer more transparency, and ultimately a fairer way of pricing your car insurance. So we found a product that works really well for that, and we are looking to charge just a couple of cents per kilometre that someone drives.”
Talking about those behind Koba, Wong cited a “very strong team” of proven start-up guys, C- level insurance professionals, as well as international advisors.
“We have people who have been heavy, heavy, heavy in the insurance game,” he told Insurance Business. “And they understand where the change can happen and where the change can come from.”
Meanwhile, Wong expressed excitement over the funding round, which was led by Insurtech Gateway Australia and supported by local angels and the Hunter Equity Group. He described the two firms as insurance- and insurtech-specific funds.
“Knowing that people who are heavy in the business of insurance really trust us and see the vision that we see is really exciting to have them on board,” declared the Koba founder. “You’re not always lucky enough to have strategic investors that can really help out in the operational component of it, and we’re really lucky to have both.”
Now high on the agenda is securing capacity.
Wong, when quizzed about priorities, responded: “First and foremost is finding our underwriting partner. It is a go/no-go component of this entire project. Without the right underwriting partner, we can’t go forward, and so that is priority number one.”
He said Koba is open to looking at underwriting partners anywhere in Australia, as well as any international company that can operate in the country.
Meanwhile O’Dell added: “We are seeing global markets adopting the connected car faster than expected. All motor brands are focussed on unlocking connected car services for customers; brands like Tesla, General Motors, and Ford have already launched insurance offers.
“We (Australia) are behind the curve on this one; we are near a tipping point in the car insurance industry, and Koba is uniquely positioned to drive the change in Australia.”