Peter Thiel is backing Berlin ‘InsurTech’ startup Coya in a $10 million round

LONDON — Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel has led a $US10 million seed funding round into Berlin-based “InsurTech” startup Coya.

Thiel’s fund Valar Ventures led the round, which also included funding from, and La Famiglia, a European venture capital fund backed by entrepreneurs.

The investment is one of the biggest “seed funding” rounds in Germany. Seed funding is the early stage of investment meant to give entrepreneurs enough cash to build their idea. Coya was only founded last year.

Thiel, who is best known for cofounding PayPal and being an early investor in Facebook, has been an active investor in European fintech, or financial technology, over recent years. The billionaire was an early investor in UK money transfer business TransferWise and UK insurtech startup Brolly, as well as backing German fintech startups N26 and Deposit Solutions.

Dr. Peter Hagen, one of the founders of Coya, said: “Valar’s experience with PayPal, Transferwise, and N26 already set an example for the disruption of outdated business models in financial technology.

“This investment will allow Coya to further extend our team and build up an exceptional product for our customers.”

Coya is planning to build a digital insurance provider and has applied to German’s financial regulator BaFin for full authorization. It plans to launch to the public in 2018.

James Fitzgerald, a partner at Valar Ventures, said: “Coya is going to implement into every aspect of its customer journey the basic technologies that consumers have come to expect in their digital life — a frictionless, mobile and web first experience, powered by machine learning.

“In short, Coya is going to revolutionise the insurance industry in Europe.”

Coya's founders, from left: Dr. Peter Hagen, Sebastian Villarroel, and Andrew Shaw.
Coya’s founders, from left: Dr. Peter Hagen, Sebastian Villarroel, and Andrew Shaw. Coya

Coya was founded by two veterans of hot German lending startup Kreditech and Dr. Peter Hagen, former CEO of Vienna Insurance Group (VIG).

The company already has over 30 employees drawn from both tech backgrounds, from companies like Rocket Internet, and more traditional insurers like Axa and Zurich.

Andrew Shaw, cofounder and CEO of Coya, said: “With our unique mix of insurance, tech and data science expertise, we are rethinking the insurance business model from scratch. We put the customer first in all that we do, while building up cutting-edge proprietary technology.”

Coya is one of a number of so-called “InsurTech” startups springing up across the world. A subset of fintech, InsurTech businesses are trying to digitize the still-paper based world of insurance and make it more customer friendly.

Timo Dreger, a managing director at Berlin-based Apeiron Investment Group, said at a conference at the start of the year: “Right now we are looking at InsurTech. It’s for sure the hottest thing in 2016 and for sure the hottest thing this year too.”

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