To all entrepreneurs out there seeking funding: innovation is key, but khakis are not mandatory.
On the Hunt for the Top Start-Up Opportunities
Like a crew of avid explorers armed with intuition and seas of data, State Farm® scouts like Aaron Chan navigate Silicon Valley in search of the start-ups with the greatest disruptive potential. The mission of his scout team is to find opportunities for State Farm Ventures in the funding of tech companies that can help propel State Farm through its second century of helping customers.
“When startups find out I work for State Farm they’re surprised,” said Chan, who tells them: “State Farm has products that insure where we live, how we travel from point A to point B, as well as products that cover life and wellness.” If companies can help State Farm get better at any of those strategic areas, Chan wants to speak with them.
“That eureka moment where I make the connection between a State Farm need and a solution from a startup is my favorite part of the job,” he added.
Pitching ideas to State Farm Ventures has never been easier, thanks to the recent unveiling of its public website. The site contains information on our current investments as well as key areas where we’re interested in investing in the future – areas including senior living, home safety and drones.
“We are looking for products and services that we don’t currently have or technology that can enhance the products and services we currently offer,” said Mike Remmes, Innovation Executive in Labs @ State Farm – the company’s R&D arm – and the architect of its ventures subsidiary. “We want to invest in companies that can help streamline our processes and operations, or provide better services and products to our customers, now and into the future.”
However, venture capital waters are rough and unpredictable. “Challenging conventional thinking is the point where innovation occurs,” declared Corey Schieler, Director of State Farm Ventures. What his team seeks is alignment between State Farm and startups that could be a good fit.
State Farm Ventures launched in 2018 with a $100 million investment commitment and has already provided funding to nine companies.
“We try to find companies that are strategic to us. They must benefit our policyholders or advance the interests of State Farm and provide a competitive advantage,” Remmes said.
Some investing examples include Cambridge Mobile Telematics, which provides State Farm with the technology behind its signature discount program Drive Safe & Save; and Whisker Labs, whose Ting device can help mitigate losses due to house fires.