Diagram and Real Ventures-backed Breathe Life acquired by US insurtech SE2

SE2 says Breathe Life’s Montréal HQ “creates springboard” for tech talent expansion.

Montréal-based Breathe Life has been acquired by fellow insurtech firm SE2 in a transaction that will combine the Canadian startup’s life insurance distribution tech with the large American company’s back-end capabilities.

Breathe Life provides insurers with cloud technology designed to improve the life insurance-buying experience for consumers and advisors, while Kansas-based insurance technology and services company SE2 focuses on life and annuity insurance. Both companies declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

“There is lots of room to create a really big business here.”
-Ian Jeffrey

Owned by Connecticut holding company Eldridge Industries, SE2 offers a platform that helps insurance carriers build new products and get them to market. For SE2, the Breathe Life deal expands its product and data capabilities and accelerates its go-to-market strategy.

The strategic acquisition comes less than two years after Breathe Life closed its Series A round, and just over four years after the company’s founding. As part of the deal, Breathe Life’s full 60-person team is joining SE2, and Breathe Life co-founder CEO Ian Jeffrey will lead new business and customer engagement at SE2. Jeffrey referred to the acquisition as marking “an exciting new chapter for Breathe Life.”

“With the combination of SE2, who have been focused on the back-end piece of the life [insurance] policy and the annuity policy, now we have an end-to-end platform that is really, really powerful,” Jeffrey told BetaKit in an interview. “This industry is gigantic, but there is lots of room to create a really big business here.”

According to SE2, Breathe Life’s Montréal headquarters “creates [a] springboard” for the company’s tech talent expansion plans. The US insurtech described the city as “a hub for technology talent in North America,” which CBRE data backs up—Montréal has added over 38,000 tech jobs since 2015, making it the fourth-fastest growing tech talent pool in North America, and top 10 overall in terms of size.

Founded by Jeffrey, ​Arach Tchoupani​, ​Jean-Nicholas Hould​, ​and Sébastien Malherbe​ in January 2018​, Breathe Life was launched with the help of venture builder Diagram Ventures. The startup caters to the life insurance industry with its hybrid distribution and digital engagement platform, which helps life insurers deliver policies more quickly while reducing their operational costs.

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Breathe Life’s growth to date has been fuelled by a group of investors that includes Montréal-based Diagram and Real Ventures, Investissement Québec, Santa Monica’s Clocktower Technology Ventures, Oklahoma City-based Cameron Ventures, Desjardins, and National Bank’s NAventures. Jeffrey claimed Breathe Life’s backers were “very happy” with the SE2 deal.

““From day one, Breathe Life has been driven by the desire to increase access to life insurance for people who could greatly benefit from it but had the least access to it,” Real Ventures co-founder and Partner John Stokes told BetaKit. “While as an investor, the SE2 acquisition has provided a positive financial outcome, as someone who deeply cares about their mission, I’m inspired to see how the combined entities will be able to deliver on this vision even sooner.”

With SE2’s help and resources, Jeffrey said the Breathe Life team saw a chance to “accelerate” what it was already working on, adding that it was particularly important to him that SE2 wanted to invest in Montréal and Canada, where Breathe Life’s team will remain based.

SE2 CEO Mark Schultis said Breathe Life’s “dynamic cloud-based offerings and entrepreneurial culture complement what [SE2 has] been building,” referring to the deal as a “critical accelerator” for SE2’s business.

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“There’s a lot of opportunity to really increase concepts like transparency, speed to market, access to data, driving insights—things that haven’t traditionally been in this marketplace and life and annuity,” Schultis told BetaKit.

In terms of how the two companies with fit together from a tech standpoint, Schultis said SE2 plans to add Breathe Life’s platform to its product suite and add integrations with its other back-end focused solutions, which include an offering that helps insurance companies streamline their business process and a pricing software product.

SE2’s parent company, Eldridge, has previously invested in other FinTech companies like PayActiv, Stash, and Truebill, and owns Kansas’ Security Benefit Life Insurance.

According to SE2, the Breathe Life acquisition fits within the firm’s commitment to invest in tech that automates insurance service operations and provides carriers with “more efficient and cost-effective methods for selling, managing, and servicing life and annuity products.”

“Everything in this industry is very siloed,” said Jeffrey. “To sell one type of product, you go here, you select that product and go there. The data pieces are not following from one place to another … We think that there’s a better way to do this behind that by enabling the industry to collaborate with one another through technology, and have data flowing through it, in a way that is seamless.”

Feature image of Breathe Life’s team, courtesy Breathe Life.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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