Erie Insurance Group, Ben Franklin Technology Partners Close Tranche in $480k Pre-Seed Investment in SimpleSense

Erie Insurance invests in SimpleSense
Erie Insurance CEO Tim NeCastro announcing investments in two startups, SimpleSense and CityGrows.

Erie, Pa. — Erie Insurance today announced an investment in SimpleSense, bringing the company’s total pre-seed investment to $480k. Erie Insurance invested alongside Ben Franklin Technology Partners in two early-stage companies that participated in the Secure Erie Accelerator.

Erie Insurance is one of the top home, auto and property insurers in the U.S. Tim NeCastro became CEO in 2016.

We’ve proven that we’re not afraid to tackle our changing marketplace head on. We became the first insurer to find an insurance solution for ride-sharing drivers. We looked at drones and their potential for improving the claims process and we became the first insurer to use a drone in a claims situation. Investing in early-stage startups like SimpleSense helps us continue our efforts to evolve as a company.”

Eric Kanagy, CEO of SimpleSense, co-founded the company alongside Mark Lorkowski and Alex Brickner in 2017.

“I was highly skeptical that a 93 year old insurance company would have an appetite for early stage investing. We’ve been surprised with both the speed of conversation and Erie’s willingness to strategically dive in to new solutions to big problems.”

SimpleSense speeds up emergency response with sensors and apps that share key information between building owners and first responders. The company has tested their technology with first responders across the U.S. and is now working with early customers in Erie on their first implementations.

In July of this year, SimpleSense was one of nine innovative companies selected for the Secure Erie Accelerator, an initiative of the Erie Innovation District.

Our inaugural cohort of nine startups came to Erie for ten weeks for an accelerator program and made a tremendous impact on our community,” said Karl Sanchack, CEO of the Erie Innovation District, who heads the Smart Cities initiative that includes the Secure Erie Accelerator. “Following the program, we’ve worked really hard to connect these startups to local resources, including follow-on funding, and are excited to see their success.”

Brian Slawin is Portfolio Manager for Ben Franklin Technology Partners. “We invested in three accelerator companies, which included SimpleSense. We’ve had the privilege of not just investing in the best and brightest startups in our region but also to participate in mentoring them as they grow.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA provides investment capital and business support services to tech-startups and small manufacturers located in a thirty-two county footprint.

Erie Insurance and Ben Franklin Technology Partners joined earlier investors in SimpleSense, including Sierra Innovations, the Erie Innovation District and other angel investors.

About SimpleSense

Founded in 2017 at the InNEVator IoT accelerator, SimpleSense speeds up emergency response with sensors and apps that share key information between building owners and first responders. SimpleSense has tested their technology with first responders across the U.S. and is now working with early customers in Erie on their first implementations.

About Erie Insurance

According to A.M. Best Company, Erie Insurance Group, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, is the 9th largest homeowners insurer and 11th largest automobile insurer in the United States based on direct premiums written and the 16th largest property/casualty insurer in the United States based on total lines net premium written. The Group, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, has more than 5 million policies in force and operates in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Erie Insurance Group is a FORTUNE 500 company.

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners

The largest early-stage investor in Central Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, provides funding and business support services to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers.

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