Shark Tank often features young and fiery entrepreneurs – some who are favored enough to strike a deal with Mark Cuban, the billionaire businessman, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Adam Lyons didn’t have to appear on Shark Tank in order for the CEO and founder of The Zebra to strike a deal with Cuban.
The Zebra is the type of website that is truly functional and useful – one that serves a purpose that Cuban couldn’t believe didn’t exist back in 2012 when Lyons launched it. The Zebra provides an easy way for consumers to compare car insurance rates without having to call around to a bunch of agents, or being forced to visit multiple insurance sites to find out the info.
For example, a person who plops in information on The Zebra, trying to discover what their insurance rates might be for their new 2016 Tesla Model X with the bat wing doors, will discover they can pay $93 per month or as low as $28 per month.
It’s that ease of cutting down the research time for car insurance rates to a matter of seconds that proved to be a boon of an idea from Adam, a guy who has also launched other successful ventures. Credit Lyons’ experience in the insurance industry and his knack for launching innovative tech startup ventures for the success of The Zebra.
As reported by Fortune, Adam represents somewhat of an enigma, having dropped out of high-school at 15 years of age and going on to make money by engaging in entrepreneurial endeavors – car-flipping, for one. It was the buying and selling of cars that introduced Lyons to the insurance world, after he worked for the famous Lloyd’s of London.
The chutzpah that encouraged Adam to send cold emails to various investment types – including Cuban – is the same inspiration that inspired Lyons to gain his degree from Temple University.
Mark found The Zebra to be a good enough idea that he threw his money into the pot as one of the investors in the company. The Zebra raised $17 million in their most-recent Series A round of financing, bringing their aggregate raised capital numbers to $21 million since the firm’s inception.
Beyond Cuban, other investors in The Zebra include Silverton Partners, Ballas Point Ventures and Mike Maples, Jr. – a man with the foresight to also invest in Lyft and Twitter in their early days.
The website makes money by taking approximately 10 to 20 percent commission on the monies that they bring to the car insurance companies via consumers. Those same consumers – who benefit from The Zebra by cutting their car insurance research immeasurably – are the ones that the car insurance companies thank The Zebra for introducing them to, sort of like a digital middleman. Customers benefit from saving time and frustration by using the improved research tools that The Zebra provides, the car insurance companies benefit from the new consumers, and The Zebra benefits by taking a cut of the pay they’ve earned for introducing the two.
The Zebra provides an open look at car insurance rates, a feature whose time had come. Cuban agrees.
“The Zebra is innovating a stodgy $220 billion industry by providing consumers the transparency they’ve needed for a long time.”