The process of verifying insurance can be “a bit of a nightmare” for those in the automotive lending space. Traditionally, managers, lenders, and gig service providers have had to use manual tools and make several phone calls in order to ensure a driver was properly insured. And that’s if a driver provides a quality photo of their insurance card.
A new startup out of Atlanta looks to change that experience. Axle is a universal API for real-time insurance data founded by three Emory University graduates, Cameron Duncan, Armaan Sikand, and Nihar Parikh.
Just as Plaid automatically verifies bank information, users connect their insurance account information through Axle and companies can instantly look to see if they are up-to-date with necessary coverage.
Axle is going after the massive car insurance market, but Duncan said the product can “bridge the gap between insurance and other industries” like housing, healthcare, and other rental industries that need instant verification.
Meet The Team
Duncan (co-founder and CEO), and Sikand (co-founder and COO) are both in Atlanta and Parikh (co-founder and CTO) is in New York now, but the three met at Emory University during their undergraduate years.
Duncan and Sikand worked for Deloitte Innovation Group and then Duncan rose to be Head of Product at Clutch, an Atlanta-based automotive subscription and rental software startup acquired by Cox Automotive in 2018. This was where he recognized the massive need for automatic insurance verification.
While Axle is a young startup, it already has garnered some pretty impressive accolades. The team was accepted by Y Combinator in 2022 after building the first version of the product and was starting to sign up customers.
Duncan described Y Combinator, the famed startup accelerator program, as “jet fuel” for the young startup.
The team has set up shop in Switchyards Downtown and is dedicated to growing in Atlanta.
“After Y Combinator, a lot of people asked us if we are still going to be based in Atlanta or move to Silicon Valley like a lot of other startups that go through a program. But we are very bullish on the city of Atlanta,” said Sikand. “You don’t need to leave Atlanta to build a nationally competitive or globally competitive business.”
Adding Some Funding Fuel
To fuel future growth, Axle is taking on outside capital. The team recently closed a $4 million seed round led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s venture firm with a focus on AI. Soma Capital, Contrary Capital, Rebel Fund, and Atlanta-based BLH Ventures also joined the round.
Duncan said the funding will go towards three things: 1) Expanding its insurance carrier network 2) service demand from a growing list of customers and 3) expanding to help with other insurance use cases.
The team has 10 full-time employees now with plans to double over the course of the next year.