IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Allstate Strategic Ventures

IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Allstate Strategic Ventures

March 4, 2020

The new member participants in the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) keeps expanding, giving the current membership new opportunities in networking and offering support/partnerships, as well as exchanging guidance and new ideas for Venture Capital, Private Equity and support industries. The latest new member is Allstate Strategic Ventures, which funds early stage startups that provide investment and business value to Allstate Insurance Company.
 
The following is a Q&A profile with Allstate Strategic Ventures, which explores the firm’s background and their expectations for interacting with the IVCA.
 
New Member: Allstate Strategic Ventures
Representative: Tarik Galijasevec, Managing Director
 
IVCA: What is a brief history and background of the Allstate Strategic Ventures?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: We founded Allstate Strategic Ventures approximately five years ago to invest in startups that would provide business and investment value to Allstate. Since that time, we have built a solid portfolio and a very strong team in both the U.S. and United Kingdom.
 
IVCA: Why did the firm decide to join the Illinois Venture Capital Association?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: As an Illinois-based corporate VC, it’s important that we’re an active participant in the investment and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Illinois. I believe that IVCA is at the center of that community and we are delighted to become members.  We want to continue to support the startups here in Chicago and more broadly in Illinois.
 
IVCA: You invest in start-ups “that are strategically relevant” for Allstate. How wide a net has that become since establishing this venture offshoot, or have you found that there is enough marketplace relevancy to accelerate core business opportunities?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: We cast a fairly wide net. In addition to investing in ‘insure tech’ space, we look to invest in verticals that we consider adjacent to insurance that will ultimately help us create a circle of protection for our customers. We also invest in deep tech and frontier tech companies that we expect to help our core businesses as we advance our capabilities through digital transformation efforts. 
 
IVCA: You have the advantage of the corporate structure of Allstate behind you. How has the different business units within the company helped to define relevancy for the investments?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: Our leadership has a strong understanding and appetite for innovation, and that innovative leadership is important for a corporate VC unit to be successful. It allows us to build strong relationships with our business units whose subject matter expertise help us evaluate investment opportunities. We believe that gives us a competitive advantage and ensures that the companies we invest in have a strong working relationship with Allstate.
 
IVCA: In your research of the current entrepreneurial and start-up scene, what strikes you in how creators are thinking these days, and how technical solutions are becoming more accessible and prevalent?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: There is no shortage of great technology and great ideas out there. Technology advancements have made it much easier and cheaper to start companies these days. The challenge for us is how to efficiently evaluate different opportunities and determine which startups have the best approach, the strongest team, the most advanced technology and will likely be the best fit with our business. 
 
As we evaluate hundreds of potential investment opportunities, it is very important for us to align not only with the founders that have big aspirations, but also with the founders who know how to execute on their ideas and work with large corporate clients like us.
 
IVCA: You have a civil engineering background in your undergrad studies, but pursued the financial and business side in your post graduate work. In your long and impressive career, how have the two disciplines interacted within your various roles in the deals process?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: I have been fortunate enough to receive a great education at the Illinois Institute of Technology and build different skill sets in my undergraduate and graduate work. Having a strong analytical approach is critical when working on M&A and capital-raising deals, and the foundation for that type of work was built while I was studying civil engineering. The ability to take a variety of MBA classes, of which the most influential ones were entrepreneurship courses, helped me approach problems differently and build a creative side, which I believe is critically important when looking at potential VC investments
 
IVCA: What has Allstate Strategic Ventures been doing, outside of joining the IVCA, to build your investment network?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: As part of our efforts to be a meaningful contributor to this community, we have been hosting quarterly events where we bring in key members of the Chicago-area corporate venturing community to exchange thoughts and ideas, as well as just network together and have fun. This invite is extended to any IVCA members that would like to attend.
 
IVCA: What does Allstate Strategic Ventures hope to achieve in their interaction with the VC/PE community within the IVCA?
 
Allstate Strategic Ventures: We want to continue to build our investor network and hopefully co-invest in some great companies with other IVCA members. On top of it, we want to actively work with and promote the VC/CVC/PE ecosystem in Chicago and Illinois. I strongly believe that Chicago has amazing talent that can contribute tremendously to the community and we want to help.
 
For the Allstate Strategic Ventures LinkedIn page, click here.
 
Registration is open for the 2020 IVCA Spring Luncheon, which will take place on Tuesday, May 5th, starting at 11:15am. The event sponsors Baker Tilly and Ropes & Gray Present “Illinois’ Fiscal and Pension Crisis: What You Need to Know and What We Can’t and Can Do About It” For more information and to register, click here.