Why We Believe in Koala

JC Heyneke
Slimmer AI
Published in
3 min readMar 29, 2023

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Using AI to bring peace of mind to travellers

Post-pandemic, travel is back in a huge way. But so are risks — of delays, disruptions, missed connections, being stuck, or simply us changing our minds (who still wants to be stuck to plans made months ago?). Giving travellers, on all modes of travel, complete peace of mind from the moment they book their trips to the minute they’ve returned home, is an admirable ambition.

Koala — a Paris-based startup — has been delivering on their ‘traveller peace of mind’ mission since 2018 and has been able to thrive and grow even during the covid pandemic!

Koala is revolutionising the travel protection industry by offering consumers flexible and affordable travel protections with no exclusions, no proof required, and compensating travellers as soon as disruption occurs. Their solution is also taking the ultimate win-win-win approach — on top of making consumers’ experience better, they’re allowing travel operators to generate more revenue while reducing risk for companies providing the financial backing behind Koala’s products.

To ensure they deliver on their win-win-win promise, they need to both be able to forecast and weigh in all factors that can disrupt travel to manage risk and dynamically optimise prices to attract relevant customers. This is where the critical role of AI comes in — automation and accurate prediction capabilities are essential to Koala’s vision.

We are super excited to announce our partnership with French InsurTech Koala to apply AI to bring peace of mind to travellers.

In partnering with Koala, Slimmer AI joined a ±€2m seed investment round, together with the UK’s Insurtech Gateway and Playfair Capital, the Netherland’s Uneti Ventures, and a group of outstanding angel investors from both the travel and insurance industries. With the global embedded insurance market being predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2030, we have no doubt that Koala’s innovative solution will truly scale and create a real big impact!

And we’re particularly excited to support Koala with our AI capabilities to strengthen their long-term tech moat — working closely with the Koala product and tech teams on their data and AI roadmap and implementation.

Here are our top 3 reasons why we believe in Koala:

  1. An exceptional team: We were blown away by our early conversations with Marion, Antony, Ugo and Léo. Ugo, Antony, and Léo, all experienced entrepreneurs in the travel industry, showed both a tremendous understanding of the industry and a sincere ambition to solve current problems (traits we believe all successful founders should have). And with Marion’s inspirational product thinking and leadership as CPO, we’re a big fan of the Koala leadership team!
  2. Deep industry connections: Innovating in this space is best done from a deep understanding of how both travel operators and insurers operate. Koala has managed to assemble an unrivalled advisor and partner network, including top global airlines and one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies.
  3. A data-driven solution: Koala’s approach — e.g. to offering “no-questions-asked” cancellation insurance — requires them to be intensely data-driven. They are dynamically fine-tuning the price of an offering to a customer while managing the risk from that customer — in a sophisticated multi-stakeholder model that ensures a win-win for all. Through a data-driven experimental mindset, using machine learning to detect opportunities and risks that traditional spreadsheet models can’t do, Koala is truly disrupting their industry!

Koala fits Slimmer AI’s mission of using AI to transform the way we work — building products and ventures to help people make better decisions and do less routine work. It joins our venture portfolio of Sentinels, Biller, Vesper, Hadrian and Uncover.

We are thrilled to partner with Koala and welcome them to the Slimmer AI portfolio!

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JC Heyneke
Slimmer AI

CEO at Slimmer AI, a European venture studio building AI B2B ventures. Visit www.slimmer.ai.