Layr, part of a segment of companies in the insurance technology or “insurtech” sector, helps independent, privately held insurance agencies and brokers automate and digitize property, liability and casualty insurance for small businesses. Layr does not offer employee benefits insurance or personal lines like homeowners or auto insurance.
This investment round was led by San Francisco-based Cota Capital, with participation from the K Fund, HCSM Ventures, Sandbox Industries and Flyover Capital. Layr’s platform is customized for each company that uses its product, a term known as white-labeling.
“We aspire to be the largest insurtech for small commercial insurance that no small business owner has ever heard of because they think they’re just working with their broker, but in fact, they’re actually leveraging our platform that is white-labeled to their broker,” Phillip Naples, founder and CEO of Layr, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Marietta-native founded Layr in 2016 after more than two decades as an insurance broker. His goal is to modernize an industry that he said still operates like it did when it was founded 300 years ago.
“It’s a bunch of manual workflows, a bunch of paper, a lot of data that’s stored in PDFs, or in many cases, filing cabinets,” he said.
Layr works to streamline the process for brokers and their policyholders through its software platform. The company now has clients in all 50 states, according to Naples.
In early 2022, Layr closed a $10 million round of funding that the company promoted as a Series A, but Naples said was more like an extension of its initial seed funding. This latest investment, Naples said, is more like a true Series A equity raise, which companies tend to seek once they’ve established their business model and customer base.
Layr has now raised a total of $25 million since 2016 but has not gotten any investment from Atlanta-based firms.
Overall, North American venture capital investment this year has stagnated after declining rapidly in 2022 from a peak in late 2021, according to Crunchbase.
It took Naples about six months to raise this latest round of funding. He said compared to previous raises, this time investors wanted more information up front before signing any deal.
“I think there’s been a higher level of scrutiny that has come to the VCs from their limited partnerships. And given that valuations over the last few years have steadily declined, it requires a whole lot more upfront work to ensure that they’re making the right investment sooner as opposed to trying to fix it after the fundraise,” he said.
For Layr, being in Atlanta has provided access to a lot of technical talent as Naples has built the business, he said. Many major insurance companies also have large presences in the metro area, like State Farm and Liberty Mutual. Naples said having these companies in the area means there is a lot of knowledge and advising available on the industry.
Naples plans to use this latest funding to expand his company’s sales and marketing team as well as further development of the platform.
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