Pet insurtech is part of that sector and one business that shows no signs of slowing is Napo, the UK-based "tooth to tail" pet insurance startup. It just raised a £15m Series A, and having only been founded in June 2021, it already covers over 35k pets since launching its first offering a year ago in the UK.
Napo is now nipping at the heels of UK-based ManyPets (formerly Bought by Many), alongside European players like Sweden’s Lassie and Dalma from France.
We interviewed Jean-Philippe Doumeng, Napo’s cofounder and CEO, about his next steps.
Deciding on markets
The UK has been a productive first market for the pet insurance sector, thanks to insurance-savvy consumers compared to continental peers.
If it is as hard to move to the US as Germany then, in terms of opportunity, size, as well as closer cultural ties and language, we are initially looking there
The UK pet insurance penetration rate is around 30% versus an average of 5% on the mainland, according to Doumeng. While Doumeng predicts that other markets will converge, the US will be its next stomping ground.
“If it is as hard to move to the US as Germany then, in terms of opportunity, size, as well as closer cultural ties and language, we are initially looking there,” Doumeug tells Sifted. At less than 2% penetration, it's already about the same size as the UK and growing very fast, he says, and the US is “ready for a better value proposition than current offerings in the market”.
Incumbents include the likes of Trupanion and ManyPets is also making headway over the pond — recently acquiring US carrier Digital Edge Insurance Company from insurer Munich Re (American providers, however, are eyeing Europe too; Trupanion just acquired Czech pet insurance provider PetExpert).
No rush to expand
Napo is not in a rush to expand, though. The recession, despite its collateral damage, has at least put an end to the "growth at all costs" business model and startups are thinking more strategically about their unit economics, capital efficiency and path to profitability, says Doumeng.
We want to find a solution to help you take care of your pet so your pet will be healthier
Napo is focusing on expanding its service offering and adding preventative health education including access to 24/7 online vet consultations and access to the Napo Puppy Academy — a series of weekly, expert-led live classes to help puppy parents get on top of crucial training that can help reduce potential health issues down the line.
Like many of Europe’s pet tech startups, Napo is focused on user experience. It interviewed hundreds of vets and thousands of pet owners to understand why many people do not take out insurance — to deliver a product aligned to customer needs.
Napo also sends flowers and cards if a pet passes away, and birthday presents.
Its aim is to align stakeholders to “look in the same direction”, says Doumeng, which isn’t usually the case, with consumers thinking their insurers are trying to wriggle out of paying claims.
“We want to find a solution to help you take care of your pet so your pet will be healthier,” he says. “A win-win for everyone.”
Focusing on user experience
Napo is a fast follower of a generation of insurtech startups offering more transparent, user-friendly customer experience and Doumeng took inspiration from the likes of Lemonade and France-based Alan, as well as ManyPets, a rival that he credits with moving the market forward.
Experienced people can take the best from the past and make it their own
“They helped change the way people see pet insurance and encouraged older, more traditional players to bring more transparency,” he says.
Napo (short for Napoleon, Doumeng’s pet dog who passed away) is helped by an experienced team of founders and operators well-versed in startup-building.
Doumeng founded a digital health startup, Tictrac, sold to Dialogue Health early this year, and was among Babylon Health’s early employees where he led business development efforts during the high growth period that led to the company going public.
Cofounder and CPO Ludovic Lacay and lead product manager Amy Wei both worked in product and content design respectively, at Meta — and director of finance Jenny Liu joined from Marshmallow, the affordable car insurance startup.
“They bring in so much know-how from an operational and experience perspective. Experienced people can take the best from the past and make it their own,” says Doumeng. “Some things you loved, some you hated. But you make your own recipe when you bring it forward into your new company.”
This article first appeared in our monthly Unleashed pet tech newsletter, a collaboration with Purina Accelerator Lab. All content is editorially independent. Sign up to our newsletter here to keep up to date with the latest goings on in the European pet tech industry.