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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Funding Story of The Zebra: Adam Lyons’ Brainchild

At the time of setting up The Zebra, an Austin, Texas-based firm providing a Kayak-like search engine for vehicle insurance, Adam Lyons made up his mind to go international to look for an organization that had effectively built a similar business prototype. He came across Simon Nixon, a United Kingdom-based business tycoon who became incredibly rich via Moneysupermarket.com. 

Adam Lyons made a bid to become his collaborator in the United States and Nixon acknowledged his offer. Lyons states this via an email.

In his email, Lyons says, everybody might not contemplate looking for investors in nascent markets who are knowledgeable about related business models. However, for them, it was more than favourable. 

About The Zebra

Started in 2012, The Zebra was founded with one exclusive objective: to streamline insurance. For making it happen, The Zebra turned into one of the most dependable insurance comparison websites in the US. Now, it is performing rate comparisons from more than 200 carriers. The headquarters of The Zebra is located in Austin, TX.  

The Zebra’s Way to Success  

Since the time of its penetration into the vehicle insurance market, The Zebra has expanded its scope. It has launched homeowners’ insurance policies. Besides, it has strategies to launch RV insurance, renters insurance, boat insurance, and so on in the future. Slowly, the customers have started viewing The Zebra as a reliable partner. Since the time of its inception, it has aided the customers to handle and recognize all the insurance requirements in an improved way across every phase of life, though there are unprecedented circumstances. 

Since 2012, they have been able to generate 6,629,066 quotes and it is counting. They currently have more than 200 employees and the number is rising. 

Background

Adam Lyons and Joshua Dziabiak set up The Zebra jointly. At the time of its launch, the name of the company was Insurance Zebra. In the beginning, the operations began in Pittsburgh, PA at the time when Adam stayed at a cellar of a friend. He was gathering unemployment checks at that time.  

The company comprised a segment of the Alpha Lab Incubator Package operated by Innovation Works, a venture capital company based in Pittsburgh, PA. There it drew the attention of Silverton Partners, another venture capital firm. 

Throughout a private beta phase, The Zebra demonstrated 280,000 quotes to the testers.

Subsequently, The Zebra procured seed funding to the tune of $1.5 million from venture capitalists namely Silverton Partners, Mark Cuban, Birchmere Labs, and Floodgate. They utilized the financing to formally introduce the website of the company, after their shift to Austin, TX. 

The official website of The Zebra facilitated an additionally elaborate quote for the subscribers who replied to extra queries like driving records. By the close of 2013, the company’s products and services were available to subscribers in all 50 states of the nation. At the same time, the platform expanded to 204 firms comprising 22 top-rated insurance providers like The General and Esurance. Furthermore, it obtained extra financing of 3 million dollars from its prevailing venture capitalists, by including Simon Nixon, a UK-based billionaire, to the team of fresh investors. 

The company proclaimed in January 2016 that it arrived at a deal of $17 million of Series A financing with contributions from Mike Maples Jr., Cuban, Silverton, Nixon, Ballast Point Ventures, and Daher Capital. Among them, Ballast Point Ventures and Daher Capital were fresh investors. As a consequence, the overall financing came to more than $21 million. At this juncture, The Zebra strategized to utilize the extra financing for making instructive tools for clarifying to drivers how the insurance rates are determined, and how the rates can be cut down despite enhancing insurance coverage.

After closing a drawn-out seed round of $3 million in September 2013, The Zebra started its vehicle insurance operations for the public in California and Texas. Both these states have the maximum number of drivers in the nation. The company offered quotes from top carriers like Geico, State Farm, and Allstate. Some specialized providers were also there. 

Funding

The company obtained Series B round financing to the tune of $40 million in September 2017. Accel Partners was at the helm of the financing initiative. As a result, their overall fundraising came to 61.5 million dollars. Besides, Keith Melnick was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In 2017, The Zebra could include the “Insurability Score” that demonstrates the customers to find out the factors that can influence their insurance risk just as a credit score is used for assessing credit risk. So, in 2017, the company raised the standards for venture capital financing in Austin, TX by incorporating a new chief executive officer in the procedure.

Before the Series B funding spearheaded by Accel Partners, the biggest venture capital financing received by a firm based in Austin that year was 32.5 million dollars. The name of the firm was SparkCognition Inc., an AI startup.

Adam Lyons quit the company in 2018 and also relinquished both the daily affairs and his position as the board’s chairman. Joshua Dziabiak is still acting as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company.

According to Lyons, if the three (Lyons, Dziabiak, and Melnick) work together, they can take The Zebra to unbelievable heights. The reason behind this is Melnick helped develop a huge clientele-based firm in Kayak during his stint over there. Both Lyons and Dziabiak were searching for this kind of person to team up with them.

Lyons states that with the capacity of generating millions of quotes every month, while customers imagine insurance, the first name that should come in their mind is The Zebra.

In the course of its operations, the company has been able to draw the attention of the countrywide media. It has been endorsed by NBC Nightly News as a dependable tool for comparing vehicle insurance quotes and cutting down rates. 

The company’s revenue increased nearly twice to approximately $37 million in 2019. The Zebra declared a Series C financing bout of $38.5 million in February 2020. As a result of this, the company’s fund collection came to an overall amount of 101.5 million dollars. Similar to the series B round of financing, Accel headed the Series C funding. Other venture capitalists contributing to the Series C funding were Daher Capital, Silverton Partners, Ballast Point Ventures, Weatherford Capital, and Floodgate Fund.

Since beginning in 2012 as a vehicle insurance rate comparison tool, the company brought ease and clarity to its business operations. Several people consider this as a painstaking procedure that led to prompt control of the company on the vehicle insurance market. 

When the company executives and founders thought about exploring other forms of insurance, they received a Series B financing to the tune of $40 million, spearheaded by Accel Partners. At this point, Keith Melnick took up the responsibility of the CEO from Adam Lyons and Joshua Dziabiak, the co-founders of the company. Previously, Melnick served as the President of Kayak, a travel and tourism search engine.

The company was not in a profit-making phase in 2017, despite generating an eight-figure yearly revenue. However, with their disruptive outlook in the insurance sector, they gradually turned into a leading vehicle insurance comparison site in the US. Growth was their priority at all times.


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Kiara Dawson
Kiara Dawson comes from an Engineering background, with a specialization in Information Technology. She has a keen interest and expertise in Web Development, Data Analytics, and Research. She trusts in the process of growth through knowledge and hard work.

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