EP 05 – Jon Soberg – MS&AD Ventures – Time Is the Most Valuable Thing a Startup Has


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Jon Soberg

Jon Soberg is Managing Partner at MS&AD Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on the future of finance, risk assessment, and building a sustainable society. Jon has made over 150 investments across 5 continents and has held more than 50 board positions. Prior to becoming an investor, Jon was a serial entrepreneur and operator, with an IPO exit at Adforce. Jon has a Master's degree in Engineering, a CFA, and is an MBA and Palmer Scholar at Wharton. Jon has been ranked in the top 15 seed investors on Business Insider’s Seed 100 for the past 3 years, and is #10 on the 2022 list.

This episode is brought to you by:

InsurTech Amplified spoke with Jon Soberg, Managing Partner at MS&AD Ventures. Jon has been an early-stage Venture Capitalist for around 15 years, investing in seed and series A rounds across multiple sectors globally. 

This episode delves into the world of InsurTech investment, focusing on the sector’s evolution over the past three to five years. According to Jon, investment trends in financial technology (FinTech) usually follow repetitive patterns or “waves”, with different sub-sectors gaining attention in succession. The discussion highlights mobile payments, lending, challenger banks, and InsurTech as examples of these waves. 

Jon notes that the InsurTech sector has seen a decrease in late-stage investments recently, partly due to the economic downturn after the pandemic and partially due to the subpar unit economics of some of the public InsurTech companies. In this climate, seed-stage investors like Jon need to manage relationships with different stakeholders, including the founders, the companies themselves, and later-stage investors.

Michael and Jon discuss how companies can cope with a downturn in investments. Jon emphasizes the importance of prudent management of available funds, with some companies cutting costs, narrowing their focus, or driving towards proving out their unit economics. The goal is to extend the time a startup has to figure things out. However, Jon voices concerns about companies reaching breakeven but not growing well enough to attract investors for the next round of funding.

Jon notes that investing in InsurTech will likely face a tough period. Traditional VCs are losing interest in InsurTech, leading to a decline in investment. Moreover, smaller markets will face more substantial challenges due to decreased capital inflow.

Related Podcasts

Episode 7