- Lemonade, the online insurance company, says its chatbots helped insulate it from the coronavirus crisis.
- The company has two bots — AI Maya and AI Jim — that interact with customers; the former signs up new clients, while the latter helps them file claims.
- The chatbots allowed the company to continue offering its services during the pandemic "without triggering concerns about social distancing," it said.
- Lemonade released its initial public offering paperwork on Monday; the documents showed that it's still losing money, despite its bots.
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Doing business amid a pandemic is not easy, what with all the rules around masks, lockdowns and maintaining distance.
Fortunately for Lemonade, the insurance tech startup that filed to go public on Monday, two key members of its staff are immune to the virus — that's because they are bots.
In its S-1 IPO prospectus, the SoftBank-backed startup explained to potential investors why "AI Jim" and "AI Maya," the names of the two bots who sign up new customers and handle claims, have allowed it to maintain business as usual:
"Our customers' experience with Lemonade is likewise largely unaffected by the turmoil as AI Maya and AI Jim chat with customers, wherever they may be, without triggering concerns about social distancing."
Since the coronavirus began to spread earlier this year, we've seen COVID-19 warnings pop up in the quarterly reports and risk factors of numerous public companies and IPO candidates. But Lemonade's filing brings a refreshing new twist to coronavirus comments that companies provide investors.
AI Jim and Maya may even be helping Lemonade's business to thrive during this challenging time.
The amount of current annualized insurance premiums the company had on record in April was 130% higher than in the same month a year earlier, Lemonade said in the filing. The premiums grew 53% more that month than in April 2019.
According to the filing, Lemonade benefitted not just from its bots but from other modern technologies. Because its service is cloud based, its employees were able to work from home during the pandemic without a hitch, it said. Customer phone calls were routed to workers' laptop and its teams communicated online using Zoom and Slack, Lemonade said.
"The upshot is that while we all enjoy each other's company, our teams are able to access systems, support customers and collaborate with each other from anywhere, much as they did before the pandemic," the company said in its filing.
To be sure, its ability to operate seamlessly through the crisis doesn't mean that SoftBank-backed Lemonade is a huge money maker. Quite the opposite, in fact. The company's loss swelled in the first quarter this year to $36.5 million from $21.6 million a year ago, despite its sales more than doubling to $26.2 million. That's after the company's loss more than doubled last year to $108.4 million on $67.3 million in revenue.
Lemonade's operations and capital expenditures burned through $20.1 million in the first quarter after consuming $80.8 million last year.
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