Founded in 2018, Chilean insurance technology startup Betterfly went from nothing to a $1 billion valuation and a well-established footprint in Latin America.
This February, it became Chile’s third unicorn company. At a series-C round, it took $125 million from venture capital investors that saw its valuation break through the billion-dollar threshold. It was led by Glade Brook Capital, which adds to previous investors such as QED, Softbank, and DST Global Partners.
The rise of the social and well-being benefits platform has been meteoric. Together with a previous series-B round in 2021, the company has raised some $200 million over six months.
Going forward, international expansion is one of the critical priorities, Eduardo della Maggiora, Founder and CEO, said to Fintech Nexus. Part of the funds from the latest funding round will be applied to opening new markets in the region.
“We have set ourselves the goal, in addition to consolidating our current position in Chile and Brazil, to open different markets in Latin America such as Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Central America and then, in 2023, reach the United States, Spain, and Portugal.”
The company has close to 500 employees, a staff level that it seeks to double due to its regional expansion. The company has also been busy on the M&A front, recently scooping some six companies in Chile and Brazil.
Betterfly is a digital benefits platform through which employers can encourage well-being practices in their staff. These include virtual fitness, meditation, and online healthcare, among many other products. Employees can get life insurance or even make donations. The overarching benefit for companies is to provide a well-perceived benefit and reduce employee medical costs and sick days. The firm claims to have some 2,500 corporate clients ranging in all kinds of sizes.
For experts, the opportunity to advance insurance in Latin America through digital channels is enormous.
In a region where financial services have been historically underserved, the recent growth of the fintech sector has contributed to filling some gaps in access and usage. Yet, in insurance, the lack of adoption is even more significant and louder, as there is no awareness of such an option or a habit of buying financial protection.
“Latin America is a market where, compared to other more mature ones, there is still a large gap regarding the population that has been able to access insurance,” the CEO said. “We aim to democratize access to financial protection.”
Tech will drive costs down
The insurtech leader argues that technology will be the critical driver in better servicing those products at a lower cost.
To that end, Betterfly is pursuing an ambitious regional development that is no easy feat. Expansion hurdles often include language barriers as well as regulatory concerns. But to overcome those, the company sets up teams two years in advance in each country it is looking to open. On top of that, it has adopted a partnership strategy regarding setting foot outside Chile.
The firm has struck an alliance with Brazilian life insurer Icatu in the region’s largest economy and announced it was partnering with Chubb for offerings in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina this December.
“Latin America is a very attractive region, with large markets such as Brazil and Mexico, where our product has been very well received,” said della Maggiora. “Increasingly, the region’s inhabitants realize how important it is to be insured, so we see in it a fertile land for developing this industry.”
David Feliba is a Latin American financial and business journalist. He reports fintech, banking, and economic news for global news organizations. His work includes interviews with senior executives, cabinet members, and policymakers across the region.
Over the past years, David has reported from several locations in the Americas. His features have been published in leading global media such as The Washington Post, The Financial Times, Americas Quarterly and S&P Global news. He lives in Buenos Aires.