The Top 25: Jacqueline LeSage Krause, Munich Re Ventures

Jacqueline LeSage Krause has since late 2014 been managing director of Munich Re Ventures, the strategic investment arm of Germany-based reinsurance firm Munich Re – the world’s largest with over $270bn in investment assets – and its US-based Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) speciality insurance subsidiary.

She was previously vice-president of innovation and corporate venture capital at US-based insurer Hartford Financial Services Group but left in 2012 after four years as the company embarked on a restructuring plan to sell a number of businesses and focus on the core.

She had been responsible for both internal innovation – incubating new offerings, customer experiences and business models through the Innovation Studio – and external innovation – investing venture capital in startups and forming strategic alliances through Hartford Ventures.

LeSage Krause founded Hartford Ventures after being founder and chief executive of a digital video startup and spending six years as a consultant with AT Kearney.

Now at Munich Re Ventures, based in San Francisco, LeSage Krause has applied her insights to help the firm and industry. At the Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit in January this year, she joined a panel discussion dealing with supporting end-to-end innovation with CVC on the frontlines.

LeSage Krause said, in her case, strategic goals came before fulfilling financial return targets. She mentioned Munich Re’s newest fund – the Ergo Fund from its European and Asian primary insurer Ergo – and explained that although it had the same process as other investment units developed by an investment committee, a different theme and type of engagement with startups were in place.

Munich Re invests from the group’s three funds – HSB Fund, Munich Re Fund and the Ergo Fund. Leveraging Munich Re’s balance sheet and its industry network, the portfolio companies can receive added value from the group’s different business units.

Its investment scope covers seed to late-stage startups providing renewable energy technology, insurtech, as well as insurance for autonomous vehicles.

Munich Re Ventures’ latest deals include leading a $7m series A round for US-based digital commercial auto insurance provider Inshur in February and participating in a $25m series C round for US-based internet-of-things (IoT) technology developer Augury in January.

Meanwhile, the Ergo fund was involved in mobility-focused deals last year, such as a $385m series B round for US-based automotive leasing service Fair in December and a $60m series B round for US-based mobility software developer Ridecell in November.

LeSage Krause’s main focus is internally connecting Munich Re with startups. In 2018, the venture unit, which works across all lines of business in insurance and reinsurance including life, non-life, specialities and health, completed at least seven new investments, including Hippo Insurance, Fraugster, Zeguro, Slice Labs, Next Insurance, Boughtbymany and Relayr.

Munich Re Ventures has more than a dozen portfolio companies to date, mostly in the internet of things and insurtech, with investments ranging from $500,000 to $15m, spanning all stages, and spread across North America and Europe.

This range of activity and experience has helped LeSage Krause attract stars to join her team, including this year’s GCV Rising Star Amir Kabir who oversees early and growth-stage investments and gives support to portfolio companies by holding board positions and liaising with Munich Re’s internal business heads. He has also been instrumental in the launch of the Ergo Fund and generating its early dealflow.

Before the Ergo launch, LeSage Krause said: “[Munich Re Ventures] exists to help create the future for Munich Re and HSB, while at the same time enabling the future for our portfolio companies and funding R&D for our industry.

“Over the past year [in 2017], we have deepened and expanded our internal business relationships, as well as taken a more active role in leading deals. This combination has amplified the strategic value to both our portfolio companies and Munich Re businesses.”