UNICORN PITCH DECK: Marshmallow becomes one of the UK’s first ever Black-founded $1 billion startups with a fresh $85 million fundraise led by Hedosophia
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- Insurance startup Marshmallow has raised $85 million in fresh funding at a $1.25 billion valuation.
- It is one of the UK’s first Black-founded startups, run by twin brothers Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham.
- The startup offers insurance products, starting with car insurance.
Marshmallow, a London-based insurance startup, is the latest in a small club of Black-founded unicorns after the car insurance company hit a $1.25 billion valuation with its latest funding round.
Founded by twin brothers and co-CEOs Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham in 2017, Marshmallow provides insurance, particularly car insurance, and targets underserved customers such as immigrants and expats. The firm says it is able to offer cheaper insurance through proprietary pricing algorithms.
The company has raised $85 million in fresh funding from existing backers Passion Capital, Investec and Scor, and other unnamed investors.
Insider understands that the round was led by secretive investment firm Hedosophia, which also led Marshmallow’s earlier Series A raise. Marshmallow declined to comment.
“When we think back to four or five years ago there were no Black tech unicorns globally,” Oliver Kent-Braham told Insider. “It’s crazy that it’s taken this long but it’s good for Europe now. We were encouraged to raise this round and our valuation reflects our impact and our significantly increased customer count in the past 18 months.”
Zepz, formerly WorldRemit, recently closed a deal which valued the money transfer company at $5 billion, making it the first tech unicorn in the UK to be founded by a Black person or person of Black heritage.
Less than 1% of total venture funding in the UK went to Black entrepreneurs in the last decade, according to data from Extend Ventures. Only 38 Black and minority ethnic founders have raised VC investment in the UK in the past decade. This meant that when Marshmallow raised a $30 million round last November, the brothers accounted for some 5% of the total raised.
Marshmallow raising from its existing investors meant the round came together in weeks.
The company claims to have grown over 100% in the past six months and says it has sold more than 100,000 policies in the UK.
The funding will go towards expanding Marshmallow’s team with the Kent-Brahams looking to bring headcount from 170 to 400 employees in the next two years.
Unicorn status and showing potential employees that the company is growing and tackling major areas like insurance helps Marshmallow to differentiate from other tech startups, according to Kent-Braham.
New products and geographies are on the horizon for the startup, although the company declined to provide further detail. “Car insurance is just the start, and we want to go wider with new products that add value for our customers,” he added.
Marshmallow is in an ongoing legal dispute with underwriter Mulsanne, which accused the firm of stealing trade secrets to set up its insurance offering. Marshmallow has rejected the claims in filing with the UK’s High Court and a trial is set to take place later in 2021, according to Insurance Age. Marshmallow declined to comment.
“The traction the team has achieved demonstrates the demand for a new kind of insurance provider, one that focuses more on consumer experience and uses the latest technology and data to give fair prices,” Eileen Burbidge, partner at Passion Capital said in a statement.
Check out Marshmallow’s unicorn pitch deck below: