Alan raises another $45 million for its health insurance product

Paris-based startup Alan has raised a Series B round of funding of $45 million (€40 million). Index Ventures is once again leading the round, with partners of DST Global also participating. The company had raised a $28 million funding round only 10 months ago.

Alan is a software-as-a-service startup tackling a very specific industry: the health insurance market in France — and soon across Europe. The company wants to create a well-designed insurance product with transparent pricing and policies to make healthcare more accessible. And it isn’t just a marketplace — the startup has obtained an official health insurance license and is the first new health insurance company in France in 30 years.

In France, every employee is covered by the national healthcare system for basic reimbursements, as well as a private insurance company for more expensive treatments. In addition to that, legacy insurance companies have neglected those products as they usually don’t generate a lot of margins on that segment. It creates a huge market opportunity for Alan.

With today’s funding announcement, the startup has shared some numbers. In 2018 alone, the company grew from 5,000 insured people to 27,000, and revenue jumped from $4 million to $25 million (€3.5 million to €22 million). Alan has been focused on freelancers as well as small and medium companies, such as My Little Paris, Le Slip Français, Ledger and Converteo.

More interestingly, Alan is close to break-even right now with 64 employees. That gives you an idea of Alan’s margins.

Following today’s funding round, the company is going to hire a lot more people. There should be around 175 people working for Alan by the end of the year.

On the product front, the company is always looking at ways to make the experience as seamless as possible. “We’re trying to make the insurance process instantaneous, from quotes to coverage and reimbursements” co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian told me.

But Alan has always been about healthcare at large, not just insurance products. So let’s see how they can use this influx of funding to simplify healthcare in general.

GoCardless raises $75M Series E for its recurring payments network and heads to America

Compared to startups born into the frothy London fintech space as it exists today, 2011-founded GoCardless could well be considered a slow burner. However, in more recent years, the nearly 300 person company — headed up by co-founder and CEO Hiroki Takeuchi — has undoubtedly stepped on the gas in a bid to become the one stop shop globally for businesses that want to let customers pay via recurring bank payments.

A little over a year ago, GoCardless announced that it had raised $22.5 million in further funding, off the back of record annual growth in the U.K. and strong early traction in new markets. And today the fintech is disclosing another fresh injection of capital: $75 million in Series E funding, in part to fund new offices across EMEA, APAC and North America. In addition to its London HQ, the company already has sites in France, Australia and Germany, from which it says it processes transactions for 40,000 businesses worldwide.

Leading the round are new investors Adams Street Partners, Google Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. Previous backers Accel Partners, Balderton Capital, Notion Capital and Passion Capital have also followed on.

In a call with Takeuchi late last week, he picked up on a familiar a theme, describing the collection of recurring payments for many business as “broken”. Accessing the various bank to bank payments schemes has traditionally been difficult from a commercial, compliance and technical point of view. Instead, businesses have typically relied on payment methods, such as card payments or cheques, which aren’t up to the job of recurring payments.

That’s because these payment options are designed for one-off transactions (cards, for example, expire, breaking the payment flow). Meanwhile, there’s been a rise in subscription business models and an expanding B2B market in which contractors and partners need to make regular variable payments. According to Takeuchi, this means an international recurring payments network like the one GoCardless is building is needed more than ever.

“A global network for bank debit is an absolute necessity in allowing businesses to easily collect recurring payments anywhere, in any currency,” he says. “Thanks to the support of our investors we can now open up our global network and payments platform to more businesses across the world, delivering on our mission to take the pain out of getting paid, so that businesses can focus on what they do best”.

Takeuchi also tells me GoCardless is investing heavily in its product, with a product team of around 100 members. He declined to go into much detail with regards to GoCardless’ immediate or more long term roadmap, although currency conversion is one area the company is developing new products for. It’s not clear if that will be via an FX partner, such as London neighbour TransferWise, or a more home grown solution, although the former seems more likely. Takeuchi wouldn’t be drawn on any specifics.

Other areas of development include products to help businesses boost cash flow via “instant settlement,” and smarter payment features to increase transaction success rates. The latter could include using open banking to check if funds are available before trying to process a bank debit, or to automatically set the most appropriate payment date.