The Angel Investors of the Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network (WECAN) are making business happen in the local innovative ecosystem. In only the past several years, WECAN’s investors have infused 26 early-stage companies with over $5.8 million in investments, preparing them for growth, innovation, and success in a competitive global marketplace.
Veteran angel investor Brian Lazarus has put his money to work through Foresight Analytics, a company developing an AI powered insurance analytics technology to aid insurance and transport companies in creating safer drivers and competitive insurance options.
“I have background in that industry, and I realized that I used to sit across the desk from people—doing car insurance—and people would tell me, ‘I can’t play the piano, I don’t know how to sing, I don’t know how to ice skate,’ but everyone across the desk from you is the greatest driver in the world,” explains Lazarus. “No one said to me, ‘I can’t drive; I’m not a good driver!'”
Foresight Analytics founder Nima Ashtari is excited about his technology and where it is headed.
“We use AI cameras in cars to measure driving performance for professional drivers—taxis, bus drivers, truck drivers, you name it,” states Ashtari. “Anybody who’s driving commercially, can use our technology to measure and improve their safety, we help give them coaching and ultimately reduce their probability of having an accident, lowering their insurance premiums.”
Lazarus says that Ashtari’s product finally tells the customer to prove their driving ability.
“His technology, it’s not like the initial ones that just say how fast you accelerate, how much you break, how many hours you drive in a day—that’s all important—but it doesn’t really measure you as a driver. His technology actually measures you as a driver and it even knows who’s the driver with its facial recognition technology—so it’s a lot different. That’s what impressed me.”
Ashtari explains that insurance companies can use the Foresight Analytics system to offer customers choices in their insurance packages. Insurance companies may be able to offer cheaper insurance if the end user agrees to use Foresight technology. Also, companies that have riskier clientele may offer Foresight as an alternative to being outright rejection from insurance coverage.
“It’s a way to de-risk the type of business they’re willing to insure through technology that reduces risk and tells them who’s actually driving and how well they’re doing,” states Ashtari.
Lazarus’ helping hand with Foresight Analytics cannot be overstated.
“My support enabled him to buy product,” explains Lazarus. “I mean, he can make a sale, but they have to deliver the product, and he needed the funding in order for the supply chain to get the products built—because they’re built to specification. He had to make sure he had enough capital to pay the suppliers when they supplied the product. That’s really what we’re doing now, is funding the sales.”
Ashtari says that he met Lazarus and another WECAN angel investor through a pitch meeting Foresight Analytics did virtually at WECAN and Equation Angels.
“The two of them were of the handful of people who raised their hands,” recalls Ashtari. “We went through a longer form and, eventually, those were the two guys who closed an investment in the company—that was our first external cheque—back in mid-2021.”
Through Lazarus’ investment, due diligence, and knowledge, Foresight Analytics was paired with a contact of Lazarus named Bob Tisdale, an insurance industry veteran and ex-COO of Pembridge and Pafco Insurance.
“Bob had even more due diligence calls with us and told us what we needed to do if we wanted to enter the insurance market, and make this work,” explains Ashtari. “He became an advisor and now he’s actually a board member. Bob is an integral part of the company now and had introduced us to the follow-on capital investors that we had after Brian. So really, Brian was the key turning point that led to many other things. I really can’t say any of it could have happened without him.”
Lazarus says that angel investing is important to the local economy—for both the Angel Investor and for early start-up founders trying to get their business off the ground.
“Besides creating employment, I would say that it helps everybody in the sense that it gives us the chance, as investors, to get a return on our money,” he says. “[Ashtari’s] employing people right now. I think he’s got about 15 people on staff, he’s got sales people, he has an engineering division, and other people. It does help, and the fact that some of the money I send goes to product and also goes to salaries because he does have to pay his people.”
Foresight Analytics is, yet again, another success story for WECAN and angel investing in the Windsor-Essex County region.
For information about Angel Investing in Windsor Essex and Chatham-Kent contact: Deborah@weangelnetwork.com