Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
Laura Mazzuca Toops | January 11, 2021
Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, investor and co-founder at VC Office, Plug and Play Ventures (PNP)
Eugenio Gonzalez is an early-stage venture capital investor at Plug and Play Ventures, which is focused on the areas of insurtech, fintech, AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise software.
Gonzalez joined PNP Ventures from Carey, the largest law firm in Chile, where he led investments and M&A transactions across banks and financial institutions. At Carey, Eugenio was centrally involved in the acquisition of a U.S.-based bank by a Chilean bank and established major technology and strategic partnership relationships. Eugenio started his career at Philippi, in Corporate Law. He has an MBA from MIT Sloan, where he collaborated with Boston-based VCs Accomplice and MassVentures, and a JD from Universidad de Chile. When Eugenio is not spending time in the Bay Area, he is mentoring entrepreneurs back in Boston through his initiative VC Office Hours.
Please tell us a little about your involvement with Plug and Play.
I am the principal within PNP’s ventures team, where I oversee insurtech ventures that deal with sourcing, vetting, and investing in startups in the insurtech ecosystem. I manage a team of investors across several different offices in China, Japan, Singapore, and Silicon Valley.
Investment in the insurtech sector during 2020 has defied COVID, a recession, and political upheaval. Why is this the case?
It is true that insurtech investment hasn’t flagged in spite of COVID. 2020 has been an interesting year because at the beginning, nobody saw COVID coming, and things quickly changed into something that everyone was worried about. By early Q2, we really saw a downtrend in the market, specifically a difference between where we are now and where we were at the beginning of the year and how much liquidity has changed. Because there was such a quick downturn in the market, suddenly investors were really concerned about not having enough funds and not being able to make capital calls. It’s the denominator effect, where limited partners within an investing base are over-allocated in venture capital and can’t keep committing money with VCs. Then in April you had the $2.3 trillion Federal Reserve intervention and the market began doing pretty well. Then you had insurtechs like Root, Lemonade, Select Quote and others doing IPOs, so now you can see more liquidity in the market and an increase in the amount of investment.
Even now we keep seeing deals and investments, which seems like a disconnect between the reality of COVID. It’s hard to pinpoint why – there was a lot of “dry powder” at the beginning of COVID, with investments having to do somewhere, so that’s one aspect of it. But that doesn’t explain frothiness and validation we’re seeing now. In my opinion, it has more to do with the sentiment of booming market, more of bull market, compared to the beginning of year when everyone was talking about a recession. The reality is that a third of Americans can’t make rent, but startups are raising incredible valuations. This has more to do with people believing we are in a booming market. A recent example of Metromile doing a reverse merger with SPAC and taking Metromile public, which gives a lot of confidence to investors because of the demand for insurtech products.
There a real disconnect in the auto market, where insurers are giving back premiums and there’s no surge in demand because fewer people are driving due to COVID. So, it’s interesting to see new startups coming around trying to focus on consumer rewards and different way to help insurers retain existing customers, who now have more time to shop online for better rates. It’s not an ideal scenario for insurers. However, loss ratios are probably going to get better if you’re not having as many claims but on the other hand, fraud actually goes up when there’s a recession, so that’s another downside for insurers.
What role has insurtech played during COVID and in an anticipated business recovery now that there’s a vaccine?
When you look at the market, everything that relates to health and supply chain is actually booming. One area that most people don’t pay enough attention to with insurtech is that most large companies went remote and were not prepared. More startups are focused on delivering to large insurers to make their workforces remote.
What’s really interesting is if you look at the shelter-in-place mandates and how the inability to visit customers is affecting agents and insurers, you need to develop certain tools to make sure they can get to where to where the customer is.
So insurtechs are focused on using smartphones as a way to leverage risk assessment. Using cell phone imagery for home and auto claims has gotten a lot of interest from our corporate partners, and tools to enable them to sell life insurance, even without in-person doctor visits. One of most successful startups is a company called Kit.com, which is at the intersection of at-home medical care or testing and technology to avoid fraud. The tool enables life insurers to keep selling insurance products with a lot less friction to their customers.
Would you say the life insurance market is seeing a resurgence due to COVID concerns?
Obviously there is an ongoing concern with people looking at the number of deaths from COVID, and being more aware of the fact that you might get a virus that will kill you, so you want to prepare everything. Certainly, insurtechs like Ladder that sell life insurance digitally are getting a lot of traction due to the pandemic.
What insurtech companies do you see as standouts during the pandemic?
At beginning of year most insurers focused on reducing costs and everything to do with automation. One portfolio company called Ushur has gotten traction from insurance partners because it helps you make sure you’re auditing for the fact that everything is digital. The fight for distribution is only going to increase as channels have gone from real life to digital. Lots of insurers didn’t have the capabilities to sell insurance digitally, and now they need to update their legacy infrastructure to build out digital capacity, so a lot of what we were seeing at the beginning of the year had to do with automation and cost cutting.
Now, one of most successful companies is Tractable, which enables policyholders to take phone pictures of an asset so the insurer can do damage and risk assessment remotely. Interestingly, a company Attestiv is also getting attention because they deal with detecting fake images. This service ties in with the increase in fraudulent phone pictures and deep fakes. The company can verify the integrity of images as a self-service or as automated fraud protection to reduce fraud.
Where do you think insurtech investment will go from here?
It’s only going to increase. Insurtech as a word didn’t exist four years ago and now it’s increased exponentially as a segment of the insurance market. But when you compare fintech with insurtech assets under management by insurance companies, there’s a disconnect with how much investment is going into insurtech. The next few years will see even more growth.
- Getting Creative to Hit COVID Curveballs Out of the Park
- Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
- New Report Projects Global Insurtech to Grow by $21 Billion During 2020-2024
- The 2020 Virtual Event Wasteland
- Insurtechs, Investors Optimistic About Post-COVID Future, New DIA/McKinsey Study Finds
- Finding Grandmas
- No Code / Low Code: The New “Shortest Route” In Insurance Delivery
- Are You Addicted to Copy-and-Paste?
- Electronic Chat with Nino Tarantino, CEO- Americas, Insurance and Mobility Solutions (IMS)
- Driving Life Insurance:Tech Alone Won’t Solve Business Problems
- Electronic Chat with Robin Roberson, Managing Director, North America, Claim Central Consolidated
- How Do You Make It Happen?
- Electronic Chat with Jason Liu, CEO, Zywave
- New Partnership Models Take Program Business to the Next Level
- New Study Finds Less than Half of Consumers Trust Insurers to Respond to Their Needs
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Mauritzen, CFO and Head of Insurance Industry, Exactuals
- You Want Us To Do WHAT For Free?
- Electronic Chat with Evgeny Aleksandrov, Co-founder and CEO, Pilotbird
- Electronic Chat with Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius
- New MIT Sloan Study Finds Few Companies Gain Big Benefits from AI
- The September/October ITA Pro magazine is here!
- “Being Right” is Just the Start of the Battle
- Electronic Chat with Amit Ranjan, Executive VP and CAO, Xceedance
- Planning for Your Business and Tech Future: Strategies, Plans and Budgets for Rapid Transformation
- Electronic Chat with Jimmy Padia, Founder and CEO, Floatbot
- Gelato with Dots and Sprinkles
- COVID-19 and the Insurtech “Junk Drawer”
- Even “Change” is Different Now. Your Strategic Planning Needs to Be Too.
- The Road Ahead for P&C Insurers: How to Understand Customers Better and Navigate the Post-COVID Insurance Market
- Electronic Chat with Jake Tamarkin, Co-founder and CEO, Everyday Life
- Strategic Planning in the “New Normal” Digital Era of Insurance – Your Next Move
- Insurer Tech Investment Priorities See Major Shift in a Post-COVID World
- Plug and Play Selects 25 Insurtech Startups for Winter Batches
- Digital Transformation – A Top Strategic Priority and New Reality
- Four Steps to Successful Migration of Insurance CCM Applications
- COVID-19 Accelerates Insurance Digitalization to Meet Customer Demand: World InsurTech Report 2020
- Electronic Chat with Greg Williams, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Acrisure
- Electronic Chat with Matt Perlman, Partner, IA Capital Group
- Insurer Digitalization: Are you a Competitor or a Laggard?
- Leaders are Leading and Creating the Future of Insurance Distribution
- 3 Things You Need to Know About No-Code
- Electronic Chat with Adam Kiefer, CEO, Talage
- Underwriting in 3D: Using Data to Adapt and Improve Life Insurance Sales
- Getting Past the "Gelato Syndrome"
- Insurers Know CX/UX is Important, but Don't Agree on Execution, Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Steve Lekas, Branch Insurance
- How AI Can Attract Millennial Talent to the Insurance Industry
- Preventing Data Breaches
- A New Boom for Life Insurance: Shifting Away from the 250-Year-Old Policy Transaction
- Electronic Chat with Ty Harris, Founder and CEO, Openly
- A Digital Wildfire Creates a Burning Platform for Digital Insurance Business Transformation
- Digitalization, COVID-19 Spurring More IT Investment in Cybersecurity
- Electronic Chat with Michael DeGusta, CEO, ClarionDoor
- U.S. Consumers Significantly Underestimate Flood Risk, New Survey Finds
- The Future of Insurance: Opportunities in Ecosystems
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
- Majesco to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo
- The Evolving Role of Managing General Agencies
- Electronic Chat with Char Hu
- Electronic Chat with Allan L. Egbert, Jr.
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
- Data Science is Gelato
- Insurance Innovation: Alive and Kicking
- Independent Agents Divided on Digital Experience, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Michael Jones
- Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
- As Auto Insurance Premiums Shrink, Insurers Need Mobility Ecosystem, New Study Finds
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
- Nexilis’ Distribution Platform Selected by W.H. Greene and Associates to Drive Underwriting Transformation
- Breeze Adds Critical Illness Insurance to Digital Platform, Growing Partnership with Assurity Life
- Buckle Appoints Sharon Fernandez to Head of Insurance
- InsurTech NY Announces Global Early-Stage Insurtech Competition
- Altshuler Shaham Selects Sapiens for the Operation and Automation of its Provident and Pension Funds
- NetVU Announces Plans for 2021 Accelerate Conference
- Openly Secures $40M in Series B Funding Round to Accelerate Rapid Growth
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE