1. He comes from a humble background
Bruce Lucas takes pride in the fact that he was the first generation on his father’s side to go to middle school. His father was a truck driver for 35 years, and his mother never graduated high school. The family struggled financially, but it made Lucas appreciate simple pleasures and strive for greater things. He says his experience growing up gave him a thirst for success and a strong work ethic, stating, “I love the intellectual challenge of starting companies from the ground up.”
2. He shows that you can still excel at something you don’t enjoy
Despite being a successful lawyer who represented ENRON in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, one of the largest corporate scandal cases in American history, he did not enjoy the profession. Bruce Lucas explains, “I really didn’t like being a lawyer, I mean it’s just a lot of arguing with people, you know, not really my cup of tea. I thought I was pretty good at it but I didn’t really enjoy it.”
The pandemic made a lot of people realize that they preferred to keep their passions as hobbies, because making money off of them took the fun out. Lucas eventually left the world of corporate law for something that did not require so much interpersonal friction, but he still made a name for himself by putting in the work every day.
3. He is a risk taker
It may seem ironic that someone who assesses risk for a living would himself not be risk averse. Entrepreneurship requires a certain threshold for the adrenaline of gambling on an idea and the faith that you have the grit and timing to pull it off. But Lucas is even a risk taker in the insuretech space.
Slide seeks to insure homes in the $300-750K range, but Lucas adds, “I’m not afraid to do the big houses, I’m not afraid to do $5 million risk $10 million risk, I’ve been doing it over the years.” He knows what to look for and trusts his experience, which reduces his perception of the risk.
4. He’s a serial entrepreneur
After leaving law, Lucas convinced a Cargill subsidiary to invest in him. He formed Infinity Investment Funds, served as the CEO, and made the company very profitable before banking caught his eye. He partnered with Tampa-based investors, and together they created the most profitable community bank in the state of Florida, as well as a Top 5 national SBA lender.
Then, insurance caught his eye. He looked at the insurance market in Florida, saw that it was in tatters, looked at reinsurance rates alongside capital inflows, and saw an opportunity to profit by taking policies from citizens, which remain the most profitable part of a Heritage portfolio to this day.
5. He grew Heritage Insurance from a startup to over $1B in annual revenue
Heritage Insurance started in Florida when the local insurance market was doing poorly. Lucas assessed its shortcomings and decided to change the insurance paradigm. By changing the way they were selecting policies, buying reinsurance, doing catastrophe bonds, and doing strategic M&A (transactional risk insurance), the company became a powerhouse on the east coast for coastal insurance products. Heritage expanded to 15 states and now trades on the NYSE.
6. He just raised $100M for his latest venture
Insuretech venture Slide raised $100M in an oversubscribed Series A funding round. Artificial intelligence is the hottest trend, and given that insurance tends to be a boring but necessary industry, so by integrating the technology into risk assessments, Slide had investors frothing at the mouth. It also helps when the pitch comes from an industry expert who has taken on multiple successful ventures.
7. He knows how to make AI work for his business
According to Lucas, “AI is worthless without domain knowledge.” Slide has a dataset of over $5 Trillion in Total Insured Value and an additional 20 years of historical claims information, which serves as the nucleus of the company’s AI-generated engine, which is significantly larger than than the next insuretech act on the market.
By using big data sets, Slide avoids unpredictable P&L ratios. The reliability of Slides model comes from looking at everything: claim trends, the insured, credit score, claim filing history, whether lawyers and adjusters were hired to assess the property’s specs, etc. Slide’s AI finds a common denominator across all data points to determine underwriting profitability before the company decides whether to take on a client.
8. He sees the bigger picture by looking at what’s going on locally
When deciding whether to expand into certain areas, Lucas looks at local ordinances and enforcement of building codes. He says that he avoided doing business in areas in northern Florida because, though there was not much risk “on paper,” that building codes had not been regularly updated or properly enforced.
By understanding the average age of houses in an area, flood risk, materials used during construction, weather mitigation measures, and the way local ordinances affect the market, Lucas decides whether opening up his business to an area would be profitable in the long run. Some businesses prefer less regulation, but homeowners insurance is not one of them.
9. He’s integrating climate change projections into Slide’s AI technology for homeowner’s insurance
On climate change, Lucas says, “It’s real. It’s happening. Sea surface temperatures are a lot warmer, it produces the engine that drives hurricanes, it drives severe convective storms, and I think the big problem in the insurance industry is that they’re using backward looking models.” Models from 5 and 10 years ago are already outdated and less reliable. Slide uses forward-looking projections in its loss models for natural disasters by looking at data based on more recent weather events, rather than hypothetical ones.
10. His only hobbies are family and business leadership
Lucas believes, “You have to combine passion and discipline and work ethic, etc., all into one in order to have what I think is the secret sauce to be a successful entrepreneur.” He is all about growing businesses to be the most innovative and profitable they can possibly be. Once he’s done, he finds the next niche market on the horizon and figures out how to add value where others have overlooked it.