You know them as the duck whose honking quack reminds you that — oh yeah, you really need to pay your insurance bill. Columbus, GA-based Aflac, a company with 60-year-old roots in Georgia, is a household name in the insurance space: they are the number one provider of voluntary work site insurance in the U.S. and the number one insurance provider overall in Japan.
The company is no stranger to innovation — in the early 90’s they revolutionized the insurance business with SmartApp, a laptop-based, point-of-sale computer system for insurance sales. And this year they were named one of Georgia’s Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) for their use of technology to simplify and speed up the often-painful insurance claims process (yes, we’ve all been there and no admittedly-endearing barnyard animal can make it more appealing).
Now the infamous duck is getting into the startup field. Last week they announced a $100 million fund dedicated to investing in early-stage companies over the next three years.
“As the market place becomes more consumer-centric, this allows Aflac to drive innovation and technology that is responsive to consumer wants and needs,” says Aflac’s Director of Corporate Communications Jon Sullivan.
“It also gives us early line of sight in to start-ups, technologies or solutions that may be disrupting the marketplace now or in the future, allowing us to proactively plan and act, instead of reacting to marketplace changes,” says Sullivan.
In addition to the fund, Aflac is partnering with startup accelerators and incubators, including Fintech accelerator Queen City Accelerator. Charlotte is the financial services hub of the Southeast — second only to New York City in the U.S.
They have solidified an additional partnership with a California-based accelerator and Sullivan says are continuing to actively explore opportunities to work with other accelerators across the country.
The company is largely looking for companies in Series A or B funding rounds, though Sullivan says they may consider startups at other stages on a case-by-case basis.
What does technology innovation in the insurance space look like? One example is Charlotte-based Empowered Benefits, which provides cloud-based benefits administration solutions and enrollment tools to insurance carriers, brokerages and employers. Aflac acquired Empowered just over a year ago.
Featured image via Aflac.