Kamet Ventures, the startup incubator arm of insurance firm AXA, aspires to invent, incubate, build and scale startups across the UK, and has birthed over 20 using its 'founder factory' model to date.
“We have some similarities with incubators and we have some similarities with VC, but the way we do things is very, very different,” Michael Niddam, cofounder and managing partner at Kamet Ventures tells Techworld at the firm's London office.
Where Kamet differs is that it takes on a more people-centric approach, sourcing entrepreneurs who might not even have an idea about the kind of startup that they want to build. It's a model that bears a striking resemblance to Entrepreneur First, the 'talent investor' founded in London by Alice Bentinck and Matthew Clifford in 2011.
“Our job at Kamet is about trying to understand where we can find some opportunities to develop new disruptive businesses because of all the new technologies out there,” he adds. “Another part of the work we do is to identify promising entrepreneurs who can partner with us to put together businesses that we have identified, and we get them in as early as possible so they can be part of the design process.”
Its relationship with AXA means that startups receive funding and financial advice from the insurance firm, but with full autonomy of pre-seed and seed investments passed through Kamet.
Kamet Ventures, which also has offices in Paris and Tel Aviv, has helped build startups in insurtech, mobility, and healthcare sectors. This includes early-stage startups that work in the same office space, and others which have grown to have their own offices in and around London.
“We have developed partnerships on the digital health side and we are developing some partnerships in the UK that we believe provide an asset that’s extremely useful to innovate in the space,” Niddam says.
“We also believe it’s important to notice the reason why we do things like that, and the reason we chose this field is that there is some specificity to it. We see the VC world and the investment world as being very good at financing objects that can be very disruptive.”
One example is Apricity, the world’s first virtual fertility clinic, which was founded in 2018 as a way to help prospective parents connect with clinicians to identify problems in childbirth.
The online platform includes a mobile app, built with AI technology, combining medical and human care to increase the chances of conception.
“We actually invent fertility treatments, and when we look at fertility treatments it’s something that’s really intimate but it concerns more and more people,” Caroline Noublanche, CEO of Apricity tells us. “There are actually one in six people that suffer from infertility around the world.”
Since having started working with Kamet in 2017, Noublanche was also able to investigate multiple business ideas but ultimately agreed to pursue Apricity.
Apricity was born during the 'solidification' phase, where the support from Kamet helps to build up the project and business.
“It ticked all of the boxes of something that was really technology-driven, has an impact on people’s lives and is meaningful,” Noublanche says. “So we have handpicked and carefully selected four clinics at the moment that we work with, chosen upon their success rate and medical excellence.”
As an experienced entrepreneur, Noublanche thought of the possibilities around reinventing fertility treatments by combining human care knowledge and state of the art technology.
“We have also started a very ambitious AI project where we actually leverage the data from different clinics throughout the world to look at what drives the success of the different key steps of the journey,” she says.
Noublanche discusses how the support from Kamet helps startups grow at a fast pace, addressing the different stages of support.
“The first stage is a setup where the process is to define whether an idea is good or not, and that’s really structured. It really helps to move through with design thinking and so on,” she explains. “Then there is the factory setup where a team of people from different fields gather for you to tap in to and gather regulatory aspects, HR or marketing aspects, and then it’s the incubator.
“Then finally there is a funding, which Kamet funds up to €2.5 million (£2.28) million) of during the early stages, and you can go for a round A fund with AXA,” Noublanche says. “So there’s easy access to capital early in the process.”
Apricity, which recently raised €6 million (£5.5 million) in funding from Kamet, is now a team of 25, with the patient-facing team based in London and the tech team in Paris.