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Bestow: The Gift of Safety


Life insurance is the safety net we all need in the fast-developing world, where danger lurks around every corner. With it, you get financial protection for yourself and your family if something unfortunate happens. However, getting this insurance requires a long, complex process.

Driven by the unfairness tucked beneath this problem, Melbourne O’Banion and Jonathan Abelmann decided to create a way in which all people could get life insurance in mere seconds. And thus, Bestow came to life!

Bestow is an insurance technology company created in 2016 in Dallas, Texas, US. It features a mobile platform that allows busy families to purchase affordable life insurance policies by modernizing the application procedure.

This is a story of how two bright minds took a leap of faith and changed the insurance world. If you are eager to learn about Bestow, we invite you to scroll down and keep reading!

Smart Kids

Jonathan grew up in a big family and was known for the big goals he set for himself when he was a kid. He knew exactly what he wanted and was ready to work his fingers to the bone. Wanting to earn his spot fair and square, he often helped his neighbors with daily chores like pulling weeds and washing cars and would then save the money to buy himself a pair of shoes or a mountain bike.

As a teenager, Jonathan continued following his dreams and achieving new goals. After finishing school, he entered Brigham Young University and got a BS in Accounting. Jonathan started his successful career in 2017 in New York, but later, he moved to San Francisco and Dallas.

On the way to becoming a respected entrepreneur, Jonathan met Melbourne, who happened to be the person that made an enormous impact on his life.

Melbourne grew up in Texas. He had supportive parents and a perfect childhood. His father worked in real estate development, and Melbourne started assisting him at a young age. When he was 12 years old, he began painting street numbers on pavements for extra money.

This only proved that he had the heart of an entrepreneur. Melbourne holds a BS in Finance from Brigham Young University and has vast experience in insurance businesses.

More People, More Ideas

When he met Jonathan, Melbourne recognized a lot of himself in the other man. Both were hardworking people ready to spend sleepless nights to reach their goals. Each of them had worked in respected companies, but something was always missing. In 2016, Melbourne and Jonathan aimed to create a novelty on the market that would transform how people acquired their life insurance.

Coming up with the idea was easy, but finding a name proved challenging. Melbourne and Jonathan long-discussed finding a name that works well. Life insurance is a type of virtuous product because as much as it can benefit you, it can also help the people you love, so you’re practically bestowing a gift. This thought process led them to this charming name for their company.

Their idea needed long-term investments which don’t pay back instantly. This naturally meant a difficult beginning; however, they soon found influential investors who recognized the opportunity as Melbourne and Jonathan did.

Problem-Solution Strategy

In 2017 Melbourne and Jonathan started focusing entirely on the life insurance space. They felt fascinated by the disproportion between the millions of clients needing life insurance and the lack of ways to get one quickly. Recognizing the reasons, they sped up the process of developing a fully digital product that would allow people to purchase a policy in less than 2 minutes.

The years 2018 and 2019 showed to be very beneficial for Bestow, and Melbourne and Jonathan were happy with their impact and profit. But, when the pandemic hit the industry, Bestow wasn’t spared.

Even though this is a revolutionary company that uses the latest technology to help people buy life insurance, the number of users suddenly decreased. The problem wasn’t that people stopped buying life insurance but that other rival insurance companies also developed modern digital products.

Hard Times Unite People

By the end of 2020, the number of customers increased again as people recognized the need for life insurance. However, that didn’t mean that the hardships were over.

The life insurance agents couldn’t get in touch with their customers in person, and applicants couldn’t undergo medical exams because of the growing pandemic, which forced people to stay indoors. Jonathan and Melbourne needed to think on their feet, so they answered this challenge by offering a hybrid workforce plan.

They even expanded Bestow in new offices in Austin and Dallas for those individuals that wanted to come in and establish relationships. This way, people interested in buying life insurance could easily get what they wish for - online or the old-fashioned way.

The same year, leading insurance provider Lemonade announced they decided to partner with Bestow to help Lemonade’s users get faster and more affordable insurance.

Bestow Awards and Competitors

In 2021, Bestow became a giant in the life insurance industry, offering its products and licensed to work in 47 states, including the District of Columbia. Today, Bestow can do business in 49 states, although it still can’t provide its life insurance policies to residents of New York.

The 2 fathers of Bestow, Jonathan and Melbourne, were delighted to see their effort finally getting recognized. The company is now part of the CB Insights’ Fintech 250 successful companies list for 2 years in a row.

As time goes by, many other similar companies emerge, firing up the competitive arena in this industry. Everyday Life Insurance, Pendella, Plum Life, Ladder Life, and Ethos Life are the most prominent firms that can follow Bestow’s influence which might be another challenge this company will face in the future.

Bestow IPO

Up until now, Bestow has raised $137.5 million in funding. Melbourne and Jonathan have opened 4 rounds, each of which was highly fruitful, where there were 2 prominent investors.

The first round, called Seed Round, was in August 2017 and raised $2.5 million for Bestow. The lead investor was New Enterprise Associates. Bestow had its second round, Series A, in May 2018 and raised $15 million. It has 6 investors, and the lead investor was Valar Ventures.

The third round, Series B, was in April 2020, and it raised $50 million thanks to 5 investors, while the lead investor was again Valar Ventures. Series C, Bestow's last funding, was in December 2020 and raised $70 million thanks to 6 investors.

In the same year, this company acquired Centurion Life Insurance and, right after, was set at a post-money valuation range between $100 to $500 million, according to PrivCo.

Bestow Future Plan

The future looks bright for this company. As the number of people who want life insurance grows, Bestow works on catering to their needs. It plans to expand its current staff of 250 people to 400 by the end of 2022 as they need new employees in various positions across the company, including insurance and financial professionals, customer service agents, and software engineers. For this, Jonathan and Melbourne plan to open more new offices across the US besides their HQ in Texas and continue with their hybrid work. Their bold plan for the future includes launching newly designed products and improving the current term life insurance product they offer.

No matter what the future holds, one thing is for sure - this company never deviates from its path: bestowing peace of mind upon people.