TechCrunch+ roundup: Insurtech investor survey, H-1B red flags, SaaS sales coaching

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The demand for some services can be so high, it can insulate their providers against the vagaries of the market. During an economic downturn, consumers don’t cut back on pet food or toilet paper. Similarly, everyone needs insurance.

Between 2016 and 2022, insurtech startups received around $43 billion in funding, and despite the downturn, most of the investors that reporter Anna Heim recently surveyed said they’re still positive about the sector’s prospects:

  • Martha Notaras, general partner, Brewer Lane Ventures
  • David Wechsler, principal, OMERS Ventures
  • Stephen Brittain and Rob Lumley, directors and co-founders, Insurtech Gateway
  • Florian Graillot, founding partner, Astorya.vc
  • Clarisse Lam, associate, New Alpha Asset Management
  • Hélène Falchier, partner, Portage Ventures
  • Adam Blumencranz, partner, Distributed Ventures

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“We are simply seeing a reality check happen,” said Wechsler. “Unfortunately, there are many companies that should not have raised as much as they did, or perhaps don’t have sustainable business models. These companies will struggle to survive.”

Their responses contain valuable insights for early-stage founders still in fundraising mode, as well as those who are hoping to find an exit in this down market.

“From an M&A perspective, it’s a matter of price versus positioning,” said Graillot. “If you are solving a real pain point as an enterprise software company, tech providers or insurers might be interested in acquiring you.”

Thanks very much for reading TC+ this week. Have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson

Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

@yourprotagonist

The unbearable lightness of being asset-light

Investors have embraced “asset-light” companies like Rent the Runway, Uber and Airbnb that don’t own the hardware that generates their revenue.

Companies that generate billions from assets they don’t own “typically require less capital — and therefore less dilution for their investors,” writes Daniel Hoffer, managing director of Autotech Ventures.

“But some asset-light marketplaces struggle to satisfy their customers because not all the assets they can make available are equally appreciated by their demand-side customers.”

Dear Sophie: Is it OK to use a visitor visa while holding an H-1B?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I’m in Toronto, Canada, and I was approved for an H-1B, which was recently stamped in my passport. I plan to move to the U.S. next year. Can I visit the U.S. on a previous B-1/B-2 visa this November?

Would it raise any red flags if I were to visit as a visitor while holding an approved/stamped H-1B visa?

— Talented in Toronto

How to make coaching work for your sales team

A strong sales organization is the tip of the spear for every SaaS startup, but because so few founders have meaningful experience in this arena, they don’t know how to set their teams up for success.

In this TC+ article, contributor Kevin Varadian explains how to chart a sales coaching journey that boosts retention and increases revenue.

“It’s important to recognize that today’s sales teams are more problem-solvers than deal-closers — soft skills are more important here than technical capabilities,” he says.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Rokoko’s $3M strategic extension deck

Jakob Balslev, CEO and co-founder of Danish animation and motion capture company Rokoko, describes the $3 million round that boosted his company to an $80 million valuation as “strategic.”

“True digital presence requires natural human motion,” the deck states, explaining that the company’s total addressable market encompasses everything from automotive robotics to safety and security.

To show TC+ readers how Rokoko persuaded investors to inject more cash at this stage of its development, Balslev shared the deck in full.

Treepz founder Onyeka Akumah on how to succeed in transportation tech

Treepz founder Onyeka Okumah

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Overall, quality of life for Africans has improved dramatically in recent decades, but the continent still suffers from weak public transportation infrastructure.

In Europe and North America, three-quarters of the urban population can ride a bus or train, but in Africa, that figure falls to one-third. To fill the gap, Nigerian startup Treepz is building a bus-hailing service that co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah wants to traverse the sub-Saharan region.

“We can’t continue to complain about the downturn,” said Akumah. “I’d say it’s helping us become sturdier.”

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