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A common tale in the world of business is the disruptive startup swallowed up by the corporate behemoth keen to lash new tech to its stack.

But occasionally the reverse happens: a startup is spun out of an enterprise business in order to realise its potential.

Enterprises don’t get much bigger than EY, the professional services firm with revenues of $50 billion in 2023. “Insurwave was incubated as a project within EY. They invested resources and completed the initial analysis,” recounts the startup’s co-founder and CEO David Power.

“They found the initial clients and validated the thinking: when it was clear that there was an opportunity to scale, they looked for an investment group that could support the growth.”

The group which bit was Chicago-based IncubEx, which develops products for environmental trading including futures, carbon offset credits and weather-related reinsurance commodities.

“When it was clear that Insurwave had an opportunity to scale its market adoption, EY engaged the market for appropriate investors to seize the opportunity. IncubEx were ideally placed to support the next stage, and they acquired EY interests,” says Power.

Launched in 2018, the platform for specialty insurance data – which featured on our sister publication BusinessCloud’s InsurTech 50 ranking late last year – was spun out and has gone on to double in size year on year.

Insurwave – a better way to manage your risk data

With clients including Maersk, one of the largest logistics companies in the world, and Teekay, one of its largest marine energy transportation, storage and production companies, Power is expecting more of the same in the future.

In December it announced that it had acquired machine learning technology from EY to advance its approach to providing access to up-to-date, uniform data across all parties in the insurance value chain.

We started in marine and expanded to aviation and property,” says Power. “A natural next step for us is the energy sector.”

The unique edge of founder-VCs

In 2023 the company underwent a rebrand which Power says “aligns very tightly with our strategic vision and purpose”. 

“We have always been about providing a technology edge. Our mission is to be expansive and provide a tech-enabled future for specialty insurance,” he continues. “This is a bold mission, but one we believe in.”

How does Power deal with the stresses of running and building such a fast-growing company?

“I regularly imagine myself rowing on a calm river – I used to row, and I still escape in my mind to that place,” he says. “it is very different from the startup technology world.”

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