- Aaron Shapiro, former CEO at marketing agency Huge, launched Dayforward, which he pitches as the first DTC life insurance provider.
- He just raised $20 million from private equity and insurance investors in a December Series A round.
- Shapiro argues the service is especially important during the pandemic, as income inequality has intensified and most Americans lack coverage for unexpected events like the death of a loved one.
- He compared Dayforward to DTC home and auto insurance startups Lemonade and Root, which had two of 2020’s most successful IPOs.
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Life insurance may not be thought of as the hottest area for tech innovation, yet one ad executive is seeking to disrupt it.
Aaron Shapiro spent 13 years leading design and marketing agency Huge, working for big-name brands like Nike, Goldman Sachs, and CNN. But he said the clients that needed the most help were old-school life insurance providers.
Dayforward, the company Shapiro incorporated quietly in late 2019 and pitched to investors as the first DTC life insurance provider, announced a $20 million Series A funding round in December.
Investors included tech-focused private equity firms Tusk Venture Partners and Juxtapose, which also led its seed round, as well as insurance specialty arms Hudson Structured Capital Management and Munich Re Ventures.
Shapiro said insurance companies are used to sealing deals with handshakes on golf courses but are “paralyzed” by a fear of change. After leaving Huge in 2018, he researched areas where he could make a societal impact and settled on life insurance, seeing how families without coverage can be economically devastated by an unexpected death.
Industry association Insurance Information Institute reported the life insurance business brought in $922.3 billion last year.
Shapiro said the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hurt low-income people, who are less likely to have coverage than wealthier people are, leaving them more at risk if a spouse or other family member dies. He saw an opportunity to make it easy for average people to get coverage online by cutting the brokers and agents out of the equation.
Shapiro recruited former colleagues from Huge and other tech and marketing companies and created an in-house marketing team led by Tim Nolan, former top creative at Mike Bloomberg’s digital ad agency Hawkfish, letting Dayforward avoid relying on an outside agency.
The company has been approved to sell its own policies in Texas by early 2021 and applied in several other states. Shapiro said Dayforward’s focus is now defining itself as competition heats up from the likes of Bestow, a digital insurance agent, which recently raised $70 million and announced plans to acquire a third-party provider to sell plans online.
Below is Dayforward’s fundraising deck.