Breathe Life Customer-Centric Digital Insurance Startup Raises $4.5M CAD

The startup will use seed Funding from Diagram Ventures and Real Ventures to accelerate product development and drive growth in North America.

(Breathe Life founders Sébastien Malherbe, Jean-Nicholas Hould, Arach Tchoupani, and Ian Jeffrey, left to right. Source: Breathe Life.)

Breathe Life, a Montreal-based provider of consumer-centric digital solutions for the insurance industry, has raised $4.5M CAD in a seed round led by Diagram Ventures with participation from Real Ventures (both of Montreal). Breathe Life describes its solutions as providing life & health carriers, distribution organizations, and advisors with white-label solutions to quickly and more cost-effectively find and convert new customers.

Ian Jeffrey, Co-Founder and CEO, Breathe Life.

Breathe Life seeks to modernize aspects of distribution of individual insurance products in North America, such as life, critical illness, disability, and travel that it says remains largely unchanged since the industry’s inception. “Long sales cycles and a focus on higher-net-worth individuals have led to a steady decline in the purchase of new policies, leaving millions of middle-market customers exposed and millions of dollars in insurance revenue untapped,” a Breathe Life statement says. In addition to these issues, consumer buying habits—especially among millennials—have changed dramatically, contributing to the widening gap between providers and potential customers, the vendor statement notes. “Breathe Life bridges this gap by modernizing how companies distribute their products—both directly and through their advisor networks – to reach and meaningfully engage a much broader potential customer base.

“The life insurance industry faces distribution challenges as more consumers expect a fast and seamless digital buying experience,” comments Ian Jeffrey, Co-Founder and CEO, Breathe Life. “At the same time, the opportunity for providers to target and engage with consumers on their own terms has never been greater. Breathe Life helps distributors tap into vast and underserved markets with digital solutions that make it more efficient and cost-effective both to find and acquire new customers and nurture existing ones.”

Traction with Insurance Providers

Breathe Life reports that it has gained significant traction with insurance providers and proven its model. The vendor’s customer and investor, National Bank, realized an 18 percent increase in sales and a 26 percent increase in first-year premiums while decreasing the cost of customer acquisition by 33 percent in just 13 weeks of using Breathe Life, the vendor says.

“We’re proud to offer the most differentiating life insurance product of this category in the market, which truly reflects consumer habits, preferences, and needs,” Peter D. Thompson, Senior VP, Insurance and President, National Bank Insurance. “For us, it’s fundamental to empower clients to choose how and when to purchase insurance, in a secure and effortless way.”

Francois Lafortune, Founder and CEO, Diagram Ventures.

“We believe that fundamental trends, like mobile, micro-segmentation, the explosion of data, and changing customer expectations, have just begun to transform the life & health insurance industry, making it possible to cost-effectively address market opportunities that were not viable only a few years ago,” comments Francois Lafortune, Founder and CEO, Diagram Ventures. “Breathe Life is helping insurance carriers and distributors to get ahead of the pack, taking advantage of the latest technologies to win market shares vs. traditional competitors and to compete head-to-head with technology-first new entrants. The experienced team of entrepreneurs and operators at Breathe Life have made incredible progress to date, and we look forward to supporting the company as it continues to grow.”

Building Strong Brand

Breathe Life was founded by Arach Tchoupani, Jean-Nicholas Hould, Sébastien Malherbe, and CEO Ian Jeffrey, four serial entrepreneurs with extensive experience launching, operating, and scaling innovative technology companies in Canada, Silicon Valley and New York City.

“The importance of life insurance, experienced firsthand by members of the founding team, can’t be understated,” comments John Stokes, Partner, Real Ventures. “Ian and his team’s mission to enable the coming generation of middle-market consumers to educate themselves about life insurance and purchase online was truly compelling. We also have the benefit of knowing Ian for many years and his ability to bring an idea to market, to motivate top quality teams, and to build a strong brand has never failed to impress.”


Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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