Brightway Insurance almost helped GrowthCurve Capital make history as the private equity firm’s first investment. While that accolade went to Mistplay, a platform for mobile gamers that allows users to earn rewards by playing games on their phones, Brightway co-founder Michael Miller is no less excited by the GrowthCurve’s majority investment in the insurance company he founded with his brother, David. Miller.
“It was hand-to-hand,” said Michael Miller of the deal announced on Dec. 17, just one week after GrowthCurve’s investment in Mistplay. “It was very clear that we were true soul mates about what is possible, what could be… and they have the internal resources to do it and do it at the speed of light. “
Miller co-founded the company as Miller Insurance Group with his brother in 2003 and began franchising as Brightway in 2008. The Jacksonville, Florida-based home, personal and auto insurance provider has increased its sales of 17% in 2020, to $ 744.5 million, and is ranked No. 104 on the Franchise Times Top 400. It now has more than 330 franchises in 29 states.
Miller has stepped down as President and CEO and joins his brother on the Brightway board of directors, while Mark Cantin, GrowthCurve’s senior operating director in insurance distribution, becomes the new president and CEO. from Brightway.
Cantin’s experience, who has spent more than 30 years in the insurance business on both the distribution and underwriting side, was a key part of the deal, Miller said, and is revealing. of GrowthCurve’s investment approach.
“It’s a really unique organization. Yes, they’re under the umbrella of a private equity group, but they’re unlike any private equity group I’ve ever seen, ”he said. “They don’t just say how to increase profits and then sell them… but how do we install real functional expertise.
Sumit Rajpal, CEO and Founder, launched GrowthCurve Capital in May 2021. He had a 20-year career with Goldman Sachs, where he was Global Co-Head of Merchant Banking and Global Co-Head of Business at Goldman Sachs. equity investment. . According to Cantin, Rajpal’s thesis was to “take the expertise of the transaction team and couple it with the functional expertise” to create an integrated company that works in partnership with the management teams. The company focuses on control-oriented investments primarily in the financial services and information, healthcare and technology sectors.
Cantin joined GrowthCurve “with every intention of going out and finding a platform like Brightway,” he said. “There is a dearth of high growth platforms on the distribution side” of the insurance industry, he continued, and “Brightway was a proven model. “
Cantin said the focus is now on winning more market share, accelerating unit growth and continuing to modernize Brightway’s customer service center, which handles policies sold by franchisees. while focusing on policy renewals and new business. Technology will play a major role in Brightway’s growth.
“I think what we’re going to see is how we take the business and modernize it with technology… things like AI and machine learning, especially in the service center,” Cantin said. . The company will allocate resources in these areas to continue building a “technology franchise of the future”.
With the acquisition, the Millers retain a significant minority stake in Brightway, which Michael Miller said was another key part of the transaction. Other companies wanted to buy 100 percent of the business, but “we felt that, number one, we love what we’ve built and we believe in where we’re going,” he said. why they remain “massively invested, both emotionally and financially.
JP Morgan Securities acted as Brightway’s exclusive financial advisor in the transaction. Smith Hulsey & Busey served as legal counsel for Brightway; Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel to GrowthCurve. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.