Emma, a fully online life insurance platform based in Quebec City, grew its revenue by nearly 200% in 2022 and 2023.
Now the firm is going national, thanks in part to $6 million in series A funding received in 2022.
“Nearly a third of our visitors come from Ontario. We weren’t equipped to efficiently serve the Ontario market,” said Emma’s CEO and co-founder, Félix Deschâtelets. “We figured we [should] replicate the model that had been so successful in Quebec, which was to offer consumers a digital offering and have our own team of in-house agents.”
As a result, Emma is recruiting sales managers and licensed insurance agents to build its Ontario team, which should include six or seven agents by the end of the year, rising to 15–20 agents by June 2024.
Emma will target Alberta, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada for expansion next year.
The startup also is recruiting in Quebec, having recently tripled its sales team. In all, the team will reach 12 agents by the end of September. Deschâtelets said technology allows for a team of this size to meet Emma’s needs.
“What you have to understand is that our agents are very efficient. Because they operate in an environment with a lot of automation, they are able to handle quite impressive volumes. Normally, a high-performing agent will complete two to three insurance policies a week; my agents regularly complete 10 to 12 policies a week. … So, I don’t need to have 200 agents in Quebec to deliver good volume,” Deschâtelets said.
He said the administrative process for a policy takes an average of three to four hours, with the advisor able to obtain a complete file from a customer in about 20 minutes.
In April 2022, Emma received a $6-million investment from Investissement Québec; Montreal-based Luge Capital, a fintech-focused venture fund; and Montreal-based Tactico Inc., a venture capital fund.
Emma was founded in 2017 by Deschâtelets and his brother, Jacomo, and primarily targets young families and women.
Deschâtelets, who was a financial planner before starting Emma, said he noticed that within families, women tended to make the insurance-buying decision.
Emma’s main products are permanent and term life insurance, as well as insurance for children. It also offers mortgage insurance. However, Deschâtelets said the company found that consumers associated Emma with all types of insurance, and that many people came to the site to insure their car, home, dog or cat, or to buy travel insurance.
To meet this demand, Emma has established strategic partnerships such as with Montreal-based YouSet, another digital platform, for car and home insurance.
Emma also is working on products for an older clientele, such as funeral insurance. However, the startup doesn’t foresee offering insurance for business owners, for example.
“We want to remain a company that’s connected with families. The company was founded by my brother Jacomo and me. Many of our very good childhood friends work at Emma,” Deschâtelets said.