Francis Lowry, senior associate at Allstate Strategic Ventures, is one of our 50 emerging leaders in corporate venturing in 2023.

The threat of economic recession has led to budget tightening across most sectors. This makes the job of educating business units about the value of working with startups all the more important, says Francis Lowry, principal at Allstate Strategic Ventures.

“You can turn this around and make them understand how working with startups can save them money and give strategic returns at the same time,” he says.

Lowry’s specialty is enterprise technologies that create solutions for the parent insurance company’s customers. He has introduced a number of startup technologies that have consistently brought strategic value to the company. These include machine learning, natural language processing and software development. “They have led us to make decisions faster and build better experiences for customers,” says Lowry.

As a startup investor Lowry tries to get to know founders as well as possible, even in an informal setting such as over a few beers. “You get to see what makes them tick, their type of leadership and their ability to overcome adversity.”

“People with different backgrounds always bring a different angle on things that you sometimes had never thought of.”

He has also helped startups to understand how enterprises and insurance companies work. “We help them navigate processes from proof of concept through procurement to commercial deals.”

Since its founding seven years ago, the venture unit has expanded from focusing on Horizon 1 investments that bring near-term value to more longer-term Horizon 2 and 3 investments. “We are trying to understand and make bets on technologies that are not necessarily relevant to Allstate today but potentially will be at some point in the future.”

Bringing more gender diversity to the CVC sector would help improve the industry, says Lowry. He would also like to see more non-financial professionals in the sector. “People with different backgrounds always bring a different angle on things that you sometimes had never thought of.”

See the rest of our Top Emerging Leaders for 2023 here.

Kim Moore

Kim Moore is the deputy editor of Global Venturing and produces video for the website.