Back in 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak, investors sustained their collective faith in digital insurance companies, both old and emerging ones. This gave rise to start-ups like Jakarta-based Qoala to slowly build their grip in the region.
Qoala is an insurtech company founded by Tommy Martin and Harshet Lunani in 2018 as an omni-channel digital platform to redefine finance for its clientele. The concept of Qoala is attractive as it offers not only an easy online platform for insurance but also a simple registration process, an affordable premium, and insurance claim payment within hours.
“Qoala’s vision is to democratize insurance by making it universally accessible, affordable for all, and easy to use with no paperwork. Qoala is currently operating three business units to support our vision and mission.”- Qoala’s website.
The start-up is a venture backed by Flourish Ventures, Eurazeo, Sequoia India, Centauri Fund, Kookmin Bank Investments, MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia, etc. Qoala raised $81.5 million during its recent Series B round.
Insurance penetration has lagged for several years in Southeast Asian countries. The trust of retail consumers in insurance technology platforms is below the global average when it comes to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others.
Despite such hurdles, Harshet Lunani and Tommy Martin were able to start Qoala to make convenient and affordable health, home, and vehicle insurance products for retail consumers. Qoala is quickly growing in the global insurance market, powered by new-age technologies. But in the beginning, Qoala was just a breakthrough idea in Lunani’s mind. Harshet Lunani, the co-founder and CEO of Qoala, is a business consultant and strategist.
Harshet Lunani holds a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Mathematics from one of India’s reputed colleges in Delhi called St. Stephen’s College. Lunani is an Oxonian with an MSc in Mathematics. But his business-centric mind grew wings during his time as an Associate at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He has first-hand experience with the digital finance space in Indonesia due to Kelola, his first venture before Qoala.
"Insurance penetration in Indonesia is currently only 2%, far behind the global average of 6%, with most consumers just beginning to understand the value of insurance and hence there is plenty of room for growth. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are amongst the top 10 fastest growing global markets for insurance in the next decade," added Harshet, CEO of Qoala.
Kelola was established in Jakarta, Indonesia as a digital investment platform in April 2017. This online platform offers curated investment options to its users. For over a year, Harshet remained involved with Kelola and scaled its business further. During that time, Qoala’s current CEO realized the unequal fintech penetration in Indonesian and Southeast Asian insurance markets. Harshet also founded Bima Mobile Indonesia in Jakarta before Kelola in 2013.
“Buying insurance doesn’t equate to value,” Lunani said. “Using insurance creates value. We need to give people a taste of what it’s like.”
Harshet faced a number of issues and obstacles while setting up a company from scratch and still managed to turn it into a successful initiative. So he understood the importance of easy insurance technology and the need for a platform that helped consumers with it. But starting an ambitious project like Qoala for the enhancement of insurtech in SEA was difficult for Lunani. But the CEO was joined by ex-EY and Traveloka, Tommy Martin.
Martin started his career in the U.K., London, right after getting a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from UCL. As Martin moved up the ladder in his career, he handled strategy and managerial posts in companies like Earnst & Young, Nokia, Traveloka, Excellerate Labs, etc. Together with Lunani, Martin was able to contribute to Qoala’s becoming and enable financial inclusion through tech.
“As a relatively new entrant in the space, we are delighted to partner with leading global investors whose tremendous thought leadership as well as operational experience will allow us to maintain our innovative edge. This truly demonstrates the ecosystem’s belief in what Qoala is trying to achieve — humanizing insurance and making it accessible and affordable to all,” said Harshet Lunani, founder and chief executive of Qoala, in a statement.
Qoala has proved to be the harbinger of a much-needed disruption in the SEA insurtech market. After launch, the company bagged several insurers to provide customers with cover against phone display damage, hotel-quality checks, and e-commerce logistics, etc. The inclusion of the machine learning aspect allows the Qoala platform to detect fraud claims and ease the process of making claims. Despite being a new entrant, Qoala’s yearly growth rate has been nothing short of remarkable.
“We are now in 4 countries and have partnered with more than 50 insurance companies, 50k insurance marketers, and 60 digital platforms. Most importantly, Qoal.a has enabled tens of millions of people life in SEA through insurance and technology.” co-founder and COO, Tommy Martin.
The total headcount of the company has grown manifold since its inception as Martin and Lunani hired talents like Martin Hong as CTO and Ryan Collins as Board Observer.
Qoala’s services can be accessed through the application or its website to get transparent insurance protection for a plethora of needs. Currently, Qoala has joined hands with over 50,000 insurance marketers. It is supported by more than 50 insurers who can sell insurance from multiple sources while Qoala handles all the pre-sale and post-sale requirements. Some micro-insurance products have also become a part of Qoala’s offerings.
“Having such automation greatly reduces the time and need for manual physical reviews and also allows insurance partners to quickly filter and reject invalid claims,” says Martin Hong, CTO at Qoala.
Let’s take a look at Qoala’s retail insurance product offerings that help retail consumers break free from the difficulties and bureaucracy of registration and insurance claims.
· Qoala App
Through an easily accessible application, it is possible for Qoala users to take advantage of their state-of-the-art offerings. The application available through Qoala adds up to a digital insurance marketplace that people can use to avoid financial risks. It can easily calculate and find the most suitable insurance solution for users according to their requirements and budget.
“We saw the number of data transactions increase from 10,000 to 100,000 in a day after a new partner integrated its systems with Qoala. But thanks to the flexibility of the AWS Cloud and AWS Fargate, our applications could handle the increase without any performance issues and with minimal effort.” – Martin Hong, CTO, Qoala
· Qoala PlusQoala,
Qoala plus is one step ahead of the Qoala app as it is available as an advanced experience for interested users. Through the Qoala Plus technology, the company distributes insurance products transparently as well as digitally. There is also an option to receive instant commission if an agent joins Qoala Plus, which offers a wide range of insurance products with guaranteed support and service from Qoala’s professional team.
· Qoala for Enterprise
Qoala for enterprise is the option for those who choose to become a partner. As of now, Qoala has several partners, including 9 emerging Asian unicorn start-ups. A partner enterprise gets to save up to 25% on insurance cost structure and earn income streams with Qoala’s signature tech solutions.
The main idea behind Qoala’s offering is to make global-standard insurance products easy to access and budget-friendly. Their aforementioned business units are currently making insurance useful with no paperwork for thousands of clients.
Indonesia is one of the most notable and ever-growing markets for digital insurance platforms in Southeast Asia. Along with Malaysia and Thailand, Indonesia is all about expanding solutions based on insurtech among undeserved consumers. Qoala has smartly incorporated its business model within the SEA region and is backing innovation to help retail customers through its products and services. Qoala’s high-end tech stack separates it from its peers.
"Qoala is the only insurtech with licenses in three markets in SEA and with this new round, we are optimistic about sustaining our growth momentum. Our business in Thailand has also already grown by three times since we joined forces with FairDee in February 2021, which gives us, confidence in our expansion capability," added Tommy Martin, Co-founder and COO of Qoala.
Qoala is the only digital insurance platform functional in three countries—Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia that utilizes a combination of products powered by machine learning-based claim processes. Despite the low penetration of online insurance in Indonesia, the co-founders of Qoala are positive about their growth and success rate. Qoala also offers micro-insurance products supported by its partners like DANA, Traveloka, JD.ID, Redbus, Investree, Kredivo, Shopee, and others.
"Qoala's business model of expanding the use of insurance among underserved consumers in Southeast Asia resonates with our thesis of backing innovation to improve financial health of households," said Smita Aggarwal, Global Investments Advisor at Flourish Ventures. "We are excited about the momentum that Qoala has generated since we last invested in Series A. We at Flourish Ventures are pleased to continue our commitment to Qoala."
Right after Qoala gained traction in the middle of the pandemic, Lunani and Martin’s start-up announced their first acquisition in 2021. The CEO said in an interview that FairDee, a start-up based in Thailand, has a relatively similar goal as Qoala, which led them to acquire the 2019-founded company to expand services and succeed within the Thai region. The acquisition was announced in March 2021 as a first step to becoming “The Regional Business”.
“FairDee and Qoala share the same vision in how insurance can be re-imagined. Hence, we are doubling down on developing technology to deliver an excellent insurance experience to the community digitally in Thailand on the back of our strong SEA presence. With this acquisition, we are taking a big leap in the group’s regional ambition to be the number one insurtech in SEA.” shared the CEO of Qoala.
The following are a few direct competitors of Qoala:
Giacomo C. Ficari’s Lifepal is an Indonesia-based digital insurance marketplace which was founded in the year 2018 and is currently headquartered in Jakarta. This private, independent company has around 100 full-time employees who provide easy access to health, life, and vehicle insurance products as well as services to businesses and individuals. Last year, Lifepal successfully raised $9 million via Series A funding from investors like Hustle Fund, Cathay Innovation, ATM Capital, etc.
PasarPolis was founded in 2015 by its current CEO and co-founder, Cleosent Randing, in Jakarta, Jakarta Raya. It is an insurtech company offering individual clients gadget screens and also health insurance products. The private company has a yearly revenue of up to $5 million with 120 employees. According to Oddup’s research data, PasarPolis raised a total of $59 million from 4 rounds of funding since its inception.
Another famous insurtech platform based in Indonesia that is a clear competitor to Qoala is FUSE. It has been based in Jakarta Barat and Jakarta Raya since 2017 and operates under the leadership of co-founder and CEO Andy Yeung. FUSE’s offerings include insurance trading & compliance management, claims processing, etc. It has over 500 employees and has raised $55 million in the past four funding rounds.
From a financial perspective, Qoala has had an encouraging year even though the impact of the global pandemic was evident on the digital insurance market. After receiving financial backing from venture firms like Golden Gate Ventures, Sequoia, and MDI Ventures, Qoala has made a strong foothold in Southeast Asia’s insurtech space. With FairDee’s acquisition, Qoala has included the Thai market into its territory as well.
Each month, the company’s web portal has processed more than 2 million policies, according to the co-founders in 2020. From the past 3 funding rounds, Qoala has accumulated $81.5 million, with the recent Series B round being the most successful one of all. Oddup’s research reveals that the last valuation of Qoala is up to $400 million after Series B, while its post money valuation is $465 million.
When Qoala began, the number of monthly policies fulfilled was close to 7,000 but the start-up quickly raised the bar along with its quality of services, and this resulted in offering products to cover health and P2P categories as well. After spending hours calculating the success rate of Qoala in its relevant market depending on its gradual growth and prospects, we have given it an Oddup Score of 71.44.
The pre-seed funding round for Qoala was announced back in March 2018. It was attended by SeedPlus, Genesia Ventures, and Central Capital Ventura. Tiang Lim Foo of SeedPlus joined Qoala as a partner at the end of the round. The seed round raised $3 million from a noteworthy investor known as "Surge." Surge is better recognized as a scale-up program run by Sequoia Capital India. SeedPlus, MDI Ventures, and MassMutual Ventures SEA also joined the round.
"Qoala is currently in partnership with ACA and Simasnet related to train and flight insurance products with digital-based claims. The company also partnered up with some travel agents, such as PegiPegi, Padiciti, AeroTravel, Golden Nusa, MNC Travel, and others, "Tommy Martin said.
In April 2020, Qoala announced a series A funding round, which was led by Centauri Fund, a relatively new SEA growth-centric VC fund. Apart from Centauri Fund, 10 more investors participated in Qoala’s Series A round to make it successful and raise $13.5 million. Surge, Sequoia Capital India, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, MDI Ventures, SeedPlus, KB Investment, MassMutual, and Flourish, Flourish Ventures, Central Capital Ventura, etc.
“Our thesis identified that Indonesia has a considerably low gross written premium (GWP) to GDP ratio in comparison to other emerging countries, coupled with the large growing middle class in need of more security in their financial planning which allows immense potential for the insurance sector to take off in Indonesia through innovative propositions,” said Kenneth Li, managing partner at Centauri Fund.
Qoala recently announced its Series B round, which was participated in by existing investors like SeedPlus, Sequoia Capital India, MDI Venture, KB Investment, Flourish Ventures, etc. This round of financing was ultimately led by Eurazeo, which is a private equity and venture capital firm. As a result of Series B, Tara Reeves of Eurazeo joined Qoala as a partner. The total amount raised was $65 million.
Tara Reeves of Eurazeo, a European investment firm who led this round and previously funded WeFox, the largest insurtech in the world also added, "Qoala stands out amongst the insurtech companies due to its diverse team which has been able to deliver rapid growth with promising unit economics despite the pandemic. With regional presence and fast growth forecasted for the region, we are excited to lead this round and join Qoala in its journey."
Investors have high expectations of Qoala after claiming three important licenses to operate in Southeast Asian markets. Investors’ support is evident from the results of Qoala’s Series B funding round. Qoala has successfully grown its business by three times its initial figure after joining hands with FairDee last year. Tommy Martin, COO of Qoala, has spoken about the company’s intent and capability for expansion.
“We will continue to invest towards scaling up Qoala's reach in our core markets and focus on enhancing our technology and product experience to greatly reduce the hurdles to accessing insurance that are today still very significant," said Harshet Lunani, Founder and CEO of Qoala.
In the future, Qoala is preparing to rise to a bigger challenge, which is to disrupt health care and other kinds of insurance. In the future, Qoala could add 250 employees in 2022 alone and also grant them equity compensation as well as provide a right to acquire shares of the firm to solidify their ownership.
In the days to come, Qoala will be building an engineering and product management hub in India’s Gurugram. CEO Lunani is aiming to digitize the process of making insurance claims and make Qoala one of the leading insurtech firms in Southeast Asia.