Mortgage servicers can’t forbear loans forever, right? The CEO of insurance startup Arturo, John-Isaac “jC” Clark, joins us to discuss this and the way his company is dealing with COVID-19 – all while launching a startup company and landing venture capital investment.
In February, Arturo, led by CEO John-Isaac “jC” Clark, had just secured $8 million in Series A funding. Less than one month later, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone but non-essential workers to stay at home. During the work-from-home order, Clark and his team at Arturo noticed something interesting.
They started seeing drastic spikes in consumers seeking homeowner’s insurance quotes across their insurance-provider customers. The behavior started in mid-March, precisely when stay-at-home directives went into place. It appears that, because people are at home, they are thinking about their largest investment (their home) and trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible by adding more coverage they may need or trying to reduce expenses by renegotiating their insurance costs.
For this installment in our exclusive series, NEXT expanded the series of exclusive interviews with mortgage and tech market leaders to ask them an important question: What are the three ways the global pandemic has changed your industry? Here’s what jC has to say.
1. We are no longer separate entities
Before the pandemic, mortgage lending was in one bucket and insurers were in another. Right now, amid COVID-19 concerns and fears, we have realized that we’re all in this (as a civilization) together. If anything has changed for us, it is our recognition that we aren’t just trying to drive value for our insurance customers – but for their customers as well – many who are hurting quite a bit right now. We are using all of our models and data to meet the demand for superior insurance appraisal products by leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence. During times of great challenge usually come great innovations. That is our sweet spot and where we will thrive.
2. The people you work with are more important than ever
As the saying goes: “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Who’s ready to see each other again at work? We’re missing each other and excited to continue to grow both in the US (specifically Chicago, and yes, we’re hiring!) as well as internationally, in order to continue to scale up our ability to provide solutions to a rapidly expanding list of insurance customers that save time and money while also improving how they serve their customer’s needs. While most of our team is based in Chicago, we intend to hire elsewhere in the US (cities like San Francisco) and around the world to support our growing international customer base (likely, London and Sydney). However, while we may be growing in other places, it will be ever so important to stay connected with our teams.
3. Startup funding will be best leveraged in socially responsible ways
COVID-19 taught us that our economies and livelihoods are more fragile than maybe we cared to admit. That changes the approach. Businesses that didn’t need paycheck protection, but took loans anyway, found themselves the focus of criticism in the press. And rightly, so. We are incredibly blessed and fortunate to raise a Series A round in a globally difficult time and are asking ourselves if we can still apply those same funds to accomplish our business goals, but in a more socially responsible manner that will achieve the same or better results. While we haven’t identified the best ways to achieve this yet, we’re talking to other startups about how we can best accomplish it, together.