As the founder of a data and analytics InsurTech focused on the commercial auto insurance space, I knew fundraising would be a challenge.
Executive Summary"Don't let VCs be the gatekeepers of your success." That's one of the clearest lessons that tech entrepreneur CEO Kevin Henderson learned when he set out to raise capital for a startup that helps insurers incorporate telematics and other data into their underwriting and business processes. In this article, which he originally wrote for TechCrunch, the Black executive writes about the challenges of raising funds for an InsurTech focused on the commercial auto space and how he is succeeding in spite of them. In addition, he offers some ideas about how the insurance industry operates differently from VCs. A version of this article was previously published by TechCrunch and on Kevin Henderson's LinkedIn page under the title, "Don't Let VCs Be The Gatekeepers of Your Success." Carrier Management is republishing with permission of the author and TechCrunch.
Commercial auto insurance has been unprofitable for years, and industry executives would be naturally skeptical that my solution would make it better. As my insurance industry friends said, “You sure picked a hard problem to solve.”
Even as a first-time founder, I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to raise venture funding, but the experience offered some insights into why so few Black entrepreneurs are funded by VCs.
The odds of winning a venture round are low for everyone, but Black founders have a better chance playing pro sports than they do landing venture investments.
About Me and Indenseo
Before I share more about my experience in trying to get VC funding and the lessons I learned, let me provide some context for this article.
I have struggled for years about whether or not to write a piece like this.
Speaking out about racism goes against every lesson I have learned since I was the only Black kid in my first-grade class in the Boston suburbs:
Save candid conversations about race for Black people.
You’re being a victim.
People will think you’re whining or making excuses. They’re not interested.
Don’t make white people feel uncomfortable.
In a professional environment, speaking up could be career suicide. But now is not the time to be silent.
The startup I founded, Indenseo, is a data and analytics software InsurTech company that provides automated underwriting services, software and analytics services to the insurance industry.