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How The Next Big Industry Cloud Company Is Making Insurance Loveable

Why Emergence led Hi Marley’s $25M Series B

Emergence believes the insurance industry is ripe for innovation, and we have been focused on finding the next iconic Industry Cloud company within the vertical for quite some time.

In a recent post by my partner Joe Floyd on “The Next Wave of Industry Cloud is Data,” he discusses how in the same way Veeva expanded from CRM to additional software solutions that power the pharma industry, we continue to be bullish on startups building vertically-focused solutions that can power an entire industry.

Traditionally, industry-focused companies have been perceived as “niche plays” because they tended to only offer one application, often built on top of an existing horizontal platform, in a single vertical. However, Emergence is interested in the companies that are being built to leverage cloud infrastructure and offer several layers of value in what we have named the "layer the cake" approach. In short, Industry Cloud companies are compelling due to the potential for broader penetration of each product line and a far greater market share.

This winter we connected with one of the most compelling new companies within insurance. Today we are excited to announce that we are adding to our expanding portfolio of companies operating within this space (which also includes (Vymo and ThreeFlow), and one we believe has the potential to become an iconic industry cloud company: Hi Marley

Hi Marley is the only intelligent communication platform built for the insurance industry by people who truly know the insurance business. 

We were introduced to Founder & CEO Mike Greene through Lily Lyman, an investor at Underscore and friend to the firm. We were immediately struck by his deep experience and his passion for the value of the insurance industry.

Historically, insurance has been a necessary evil, a purchase made purely for the sake of safety and security. Most of us can likely agree that our experiences dealing with insurers during times of need have been less than ideal, if not unpleasant altogether. 

But Mike wants to reverse the indifference or negative reputation; he is on a mission to make insurance lovable. And given my family’s roots in the insurance industry, partnering with Hi Marley hits on a personal level. I am inspired by Mike’s passion and am excited to be part of the journey.

At its core, Hi Marley is an intelligent communication platform purpose-built for the entire insurance ecosystem. On the front end, it meets consumers where they are by making communication easy and seamless through text messages. On the back end, Hi Marley is enterprise-grade software that quickly integrates with other core systems to deliver critical insights and fuel continuous improvements to the employee and customer experience.

Unlike the horizontal chat solutions, Hi Marley is tackling the whole communication layer. And  what is most compelling to Emergence is that we believe the communication infrastructure they are building can be the fabric that will tie the whole insurance industry together. It is especially important to note the significance of communications during the pandemic and how the way the world communicates has changed forever; Mike and his team are entering the market at a time when the opportunity is ripe.

In a true “layer the cake” strategy, our conviction in Hi Marley goes deeper. Mike is particularly interested in Emergence’s Coaching Network thesis, how companies use machine learning to guide workers toward doing their jobs more effectively in real-time. One of the necessary components of a Coaching Network company is a distributed “touchpoint” network; given Hi Marley’s unique position as the communication infrastructure of the insurance industry, we believe they will be able to build software to leverage industry insights to solve their customers’ needs. 

"Beyond an investment partner, we set out to find our ideal board team member with shared values, bold vision, and evidence of excellence in enterprise software.

Despite the competitive term sheets, we found that and much more with Gordon Ritter, Jake Saper, and the team at Emergence. The combination of their founder-friendly team, shared belief in Coaching Networks, and track record with industry cloud companies like Veeva was truly unmatched. We’re honored to be in the company of others in the Emergence portfolio and Gordon’s reputation speaks for itself - we couldn’t have asked for a better board team member." - Mike Greene, Hi Marley Co-Founder & CEO

The company is already seeing immense growth; in the last year the number of carriers using Hi Marley’s platform has doubled, and the company has seen a 4x increase in the user base. 

We are incredibly excited to welcome the Hi Marley team into the Emergence Family. We believe Mike has the perfect mix of industry background, technical knowledge, and leadership experience. Previously, with his co-founders Mitesh Suchak & John Miller, Mike and team successfully built an insurance consulting and software company that later sold to Aon, a large insurance broker. For Emergence, this demonstrates they have not only done it before, but they know the inner workings of the ecosystem, understand the pain points both the customers and the end-users face, and ultimately can deliver on a breakthrough product. 

While all of the above was critical to our decision, we also weighed heavily on the founder as a person. In getting to know Mike, despite never having met in person, our relationship grew out of trust, mutual respect, and a shared vision on leadership. Hi Marley’s values are built on the foundation of humility, max courage, and ubuntu (oneness between people). Many of these overlap with Emergence’s core values, and we already have some awesome team collaboration underway.

Congratulations! We’re incredibly excited to support your journey to “make insurance lovable!”

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