When Chad Nitschke officially left his role as CEO of the InsurTech he founded, Bunker, in January of this year, he didn’t know yet that he’d become the president of Vouch Specialty, the division of another InsurTech, seven months later.
The exact focus of Vouch Specialty is still a bit under wraps. But Vouch Co-Founders Sam Hodges and Travis Hedge hint that the role may relate to the complex insurance needs of their expanding target market that used to consist of early-stage startups but now also encompasses later-stage private companies, including fintechs, life sciences companies and consumer tech companies. (Related article, “Building Insurance for the Companies Building the Future“)
Chad Nitschke, Vouch Specialty
Nitschke’s engagement, which started as an adviser, came at a time when he was taking a break and sorting out exactly what his next role would be. An introduction from his wife, who had worked for Hodges years earlier at another company, was one of his paths to a Vouch role that wasn’t in his immediate plans.
“My decision to join Vouch was completely independent of the decision to transition out of the CEO role at Bunker, and that was a big decision for me,” he said.
Why did he leave Bunker, a contract-related insurance marketplace that he had run for five year, passing the CEO reins to Jordan Simkin?
“It was a fork-in-the-road opportunity for me,” he said, laying out his two choices—either continuing to lead Bunker through its next stage of growth as CEO, or handing the reins to “a talented operator,” who was keen to move into the role. “I am a firm believer in re-potting the plant, and obviously, it’s a lot of work to build a company and run a company. I liked the idea of injecting a different mindset, with the same vision but a different energy, into Bunker,” he said, during a recent interview.
After Simkin approached Nitschke with the idea, the two men worked together in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 to make a smooth transition. “In January, I decided to basically transition out of the CEO role, stayed on the board and didn’t really know what I was going to do next. I had a few things that I was noodling on and thinking about, but really just wanted to take some time off in the near term, he said. Nitschke, an active angel investor in the InsurTech space, filled the time doing some volunteer work with the San Francisco Food Bank and also joined venture firm Clocktower Ventures (an investor in Bunker) as an EIR (entrepreneur in residence).
Nitschke, an active angel investor in the InsurTech space, said that his wife’s connection to Hodges wasn’t his only path into Vouch. He also knew Hedge because Bunker was a client of Silicon Valley Bank when Hedge worked at SVB.
John Wallace, a longtime friend who worked with Nitschke during his pre-InsurTech days at CUNA Mutual and Travelers, signed on to a role on the Vouch executive team as chief insurance officer.
A lot of independent connections helped Nitschke see what Hodges and Hedge were building at Vouch, he said, noting that a role as an informal adviser ultimately led to his current position as Vouch Specialty president.
Nitschke, who invested in Vouch’s seed round, is also an investor in Shepherd.