David Fontain has now raised almost $60M for his startups, in a huge industry that needs more help and innovation than ever.
On the Dealmakers Show, Fontain shared how he stepped into startups and was inspired to launch his latest group of companies. Plus, using insurtech to create safer workplaces and insurance savings, and developing your fundraising strategy when you are taking on something big and complex.
Listen in to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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From Investment Banking To Entrepreneurship
David Fontain is originally from the Gold Coast of Australia. He grew up by world-famous surfing beaches and loved the outdoors.
For college, he chose to study finance. He really wanted to understand how the economy and financial markets worked.
After his studies, he went to work for a Dutch investment bank. There he enjoyed learning about macroeconomics, and how they impact the global economy. He got to see big companies going public, and how the investment space works.
As all those destined to become entrepreneurs encounter in this situation, it eventually becomes frustrating that you can’t get much done outside of a big corporation’s status quo. Then that itch to do something more, and something bigger eventually just becomes too much to ignore and put off anymore.
David decided to officially make the leap into technology startups. Leveraging some contacts he had in Beijing, he launched an online custom business shirt company. He managed to sell that company and dove into creating enterprise software for a few years.
It was the untimely death of a college friend that ultimately compelled David Fontain to take on a whole new venture, which has morphed into his biggest project yet.
A workplace accident took his friend’s life too early. An incident he saw as being completely preventable should the right guidelines and practices have been put in place.
A third friend, Peter Grant, and David put their heads together to figure out what they could do to improve these issues with workplace safety. They ended up founding Safesite.
The mission began with looking for a way to utilize technology to incentivize and encourage businesses to improve their compliance and manage risk and safety.
This happened to come at the time when tablets and smartphones were making their way into the workplace, and it just came together.
They launched from Sydney, Australia. Though quickly found that they had thousands of corporate users in the US downloading and being very active within their app.
They decided to fly out to California to investigate this demand and eagerness to adopt their technology.
What they found was a huge pain point. The highly litigious US system has also resulted in America having the highest workplace insurance costs in the world. Any accidents can in turn spike insurance premiums by 200% to 300%. Which cannot just destroy a company’s competitiveness, but may mean that they can no longer employ their own workers.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
Safesite Becomes an Award-Winning Solution
Safesite has become an award-winning solution, proven to reduce the frequency of workplace accidents by 57%.
Their success and the way their customers used the technology got David thinking about the advantages of starting an insurance company of their own. One that is based on the concept of engaging and saving. If they could get businesses more engaged with compliance systems, then why couldn’t they save them more money on their insurance? Much like we now have devices for cars that help reduce insurance rates based on your driving. Or similar technology in healthcare.
To take things to the next level David decided to join insurance startup accelerator Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, California. It was an intensive six-month process. During which they met with a lot of players in the insurance industry, and learned a lot about the landscape and mechanics of it.
In fact, David’s top advice for other entrepreneurs considering launching a company today is to surround yourself and get advice from the smartest people you can. If you do that, he says “the better, the faster you’re going to iterate ideas, the better feedback you’re going to get and the less time you’re going to waste potentially pursuing something that might not make sense. And if someone who had more experience or you know more tenure looked at it and would be able to tell you straight away.”
He adds that while the media loves to highlight huge fundraising rounds and billion-dollar valuations, it is typically the result of a 10-year journey, not an overnight success. “It’s a marathon. Not a sprint.”
As with many other insurtech startups, the next step of their journey ended up being opening their own commercial insurance brokerage. It’s not what their goal was. It is just a logical path to getting proactive, better understanding of how everything works, and creating better systems and experiences for other brokers in the future.
In late 2020, this launched as Foresight. A part of the Foresight Group.
Storytelling is everything which is something that David Fontain was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
To date, they have raised $59M through their Series B round.
Of course, insurance may be one of the most complex industries to get into. It is highly regulated and has huge capital requirements. So, they networked hard, sought out advisors, and began to raise as they proved each step and collected the data.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Startup fundraising
- How big David’s companies have scaled already
- The future of business insurance