Why a Risk Analyst Quit His Job to Start a Pet Insurance Startup

  • Pawlicy Advisor provides a marketplace for pet owners to shop and compare pet insurance options.
  • Co-founder Woody Mawhinney came up with the idea after seeing how difficult it was to compare insurance.
  • The company raised $12 million in Series B funding from StepStone, Defy Partners, Rho Ignition, Remarkable Ventures Fund and Slow Ventures.

Like any new pet parent, Woody Mawhinney was already overwhelmed with training and caring for his adopted Shar Pei.

But when his dog, Wrigley, started showing signs of genetic disease, he took him to the vet and was shocked at the thousands of dollars it cost to pay for medications, vet visits and Wrigley’s surgeries. Mawhinney’s vet recommended he get pet insurance but said he was unaware of the best way to assess


animal insurance

options.

“The advice was at Google Pet Insurance, and when I did, I immediately felt overwhelmed, confused, and ended up choosing an insurance policy more or less on the fly,” Mawhinney told Insider. .

That’s when the wheels started turning for Mawhinney. As a risk analyst at ABS Consulting, a firm that works with the Department of Homeland Security, evaluating options is part of his daily life. After some research, Mawhinney realized there was no resource to compare pet insurance, and his startup, Pawlicy Advisor, was born.

The startup now offers a marketplace where pet owners can browse and compare insurers. Pawlicy recently raised $12 million in Series B funding from investment firm StepStone with participation from former investors Defy Partners, Slow Ventures, Rho Ignition and ERA’s Remarkable Ventures Fund. The company raised $20 million in total funding.

Pawlicy also acts as an insurance broker that works with providers to reach customers. It also offers most major insurers on its platform. The startup has also partnered with Synchrony Financial to provide users with access to CareCredit, a co-branded credit card for pet care.

When Mawhinney researched pet insurance options, he struggled to compare what each provider would and would not cover for all of his dog’s medical procedures. This experience eventually became the seed of Pawlicy. He consulted travel websites such as Kayak and Priceline for inspiration.

In January 2018, he quit his job and started a program at Columbia Business School. Mawhinney continued to work on his startup idea while in college, and by the time he graduated, Pawlicy was up and running.

Mawhinney met his co-founder, Travis Bloom, in September 2018 after reading about Mawhinney’s idea in an article on CoFoundersLab after his own insurance-buying ordeal. The two began talking about starting the business, but it wasn’t until after a nine-hour hike up an upstate New York mountain that Bloom signed on with Pawlicy.

“I decided that one of the best ways to get to know each other would be to travel, so I took Travis on the toughest local hike I could find,” Mawhinney said. “We spent nine hours talking and laughing, and we knew that not only did we have complementary skills and aligned visions, but that we were also connected.”

Bloom – who has a pet cat named Ginny – became the company’s chief technology officer soon after.

Those early days were tough, Mawhinney said, because they couldn’t get pet insurers to talk to them. It wasn’t until Mawhinney approached the companies’ CEOs directly that he was able to get them on board. Mawhinney said a big part of Pawlicy’s job is to help veterinarians guide patients through more transparent care costs for their pets.

“We want to educate consumers on how to pay for their veterinarian’s treatment recommendations,” Mawhinney said. “With this funding, we can expand our small team to better support pet owners and veterinarians across the country.”