American Family Ventures Exits Stealth Mode, Builds National Portfolio

6/18/14Follow @XconomyWI

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digital ads that we’re buying are actually being seen by people and not bots, which is a way that we can protect the policyholders’ premiums by making sure we’re spending our marketing dollars wisely.

Networked Insights helps us understand what our customers want by potentially listening to what they’re talking about and interpreting that.

X: How did you come up with the three investment themes?

DR: We wanted to align our investments with the kind of companies that we thought would be relevant for the next five to seven years. As an insurance company investing in early-stage companies, if it’s a startup working on insurance innovation, we think we should know about it. Next-generation analytics solutions, we could use those today. A company using [digital] signals … to mitigate physical risk, those are things we want to know about, and our policyholders want to engage with us on those.

X: Why is it important for a corporation like American Family to support the startup ecosystem?

DR: It’s just another source of innovation for us. There’s a lot of people working on innovation in the building. There’s no reason why we can’t look outside our walls for innovative concepts. There’s a lot happening around here.

X: What’s your take on the startup environment in Wisconsin?

DR: I’m excited about the growth. I really like the organizing effect that groups like Gener8tor have on it. I feel like we are at the start of something great.

X: What needs to happen to improve Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem?

DR: I just think it will mature over time. My expectation is that these things take time and they take focused, long-term effort.

Jeff Engel is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @XconomyWI

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