From 10 Weeks to 10 Minutes: Fabric Shares Their Success at Simplifying Life Insurance
Adam Erlebacher is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fabric, a one-stop shop to help families master their financial lives. Adam was interviewed by Ron Rock, Senior Director at JobsOhio, a private nonprofit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention and expansion efforts.
Adam, as we begin 2023, what recent accomplishments are you celebrating with your team?
“The acquisition (by Western & Southern Financial Group) is a major milestone in our company's growth. I think the thing that we're most excited about is having the resources and balance sheet to really go after this opportunity, in an enormous way. There are a couple of things that we achieved in 2022 that were big accelerants for our business. One is we went through a rebrand where we became Fabric by Gerber Life. This pairs our cutting-edge digital platform with a brand with decades of investment. That allows us to marry the best of the digital world with a household brand name. Our pairing has proven to be a really powerful combination in the market. We're seeing meaningful double-digit lifts and engagement with the new branding versus what we had with standalone Fabric branding. That is super exciting for us, and it's something that is going to help provide an accelerant to our growth going forward.
The second major milestone last year is that we went truly full-stack as a life insurance carrier platform. That meant rather than working with a partner to provide paper for us, we are now (as a part of Western & Southern) a true full-stack solution where we have full control over the insurance product development process, whereas before it was through a partner.
We're also able to build on top of that massive balance sheet. Western & Southern is one of the best-capitalized insurance carriers in the country. Now, we have the benefit of being a quick-moving, agile startup that can build things and launch them quickly, while also having the backing of a 135-year-old institution. In fact, end-to-end, the launch of our new, fully-digital term life product was the quickest insurance product launch in Western & Southern's 135-year history. That shows the power of combining an agile, digital-focused startup with the heft and expert insurance experience of a well-established insurance carrier.”
How have partnerships been a vital ingredient in your growth?
“We have always had to work very closely with our partners on the insurance side. We worked with a carrier before the acquisition, and we had a very strong partnership with them. We’re looking for a few different things. First, we need the partner to align with a forward-thinking strategy when it comes to digital distribution. If the partner doesn't have that, the best technology in the world is not going to solve that problem. Second, we're looking for partners with digital backends that we can integrate with seamlessly. If you have to build too much technology to take on the carrier partner’s work, it becomes a bit of a mismatch, especially when it comes to operating your business.
You need to have seamless, automated processes in the backend. When it came to transitioning from our previous carrier partner to Western & Southern, we actually found that Western & Southern is extremely forward-thinking, fully invested in a digital vision and bringing that digital vision to the insurance world. Whereas, a lot of carriers are still looking backward despite public statements. It's still rare to find an insurance carrier with the history that Western & Southern has that is looking so far into the future and willing to make the investments in their backend systems to push forward on the digital front. That was extremely important to us when we made the decision to partner with Western & Southern.”
As you reflect on the evolution of Fabric’s products and services, how has your mission evolved alongside it?
“Our mission has stayed very consistent since our founding. We believe every family deserves a secure financial future, and we have built a one-stop shop for family financial security. What's evolved is the investment that we've been able to make into that experience from a full-stack product perspective. What we did from the beginning was to focus on making life insurance a quick and easy digital experience. Something that used to take 10 weeks, we've distilled down to a 10-minute application where you get an instant offer. That was revolutionary. On top of that, we've taken a very different and unique approach to the market, which is the one-stop shop.
If you're a family or a parent and you're looking to secure your family's financial future, you don't necessarily wake up in the morning thinking about life insurance. We need to meet parents wherever they are in their journey when they're thinking about how to protect their family's future. So, we've rolled out a number of products. We began with building a full-stack digital will service that's proprietary to Fabric, and we've continued to invest in that. Beyond that, we've also rolled out tools to organize your family’s finances, a college savings account (which is a 529 account through a partnership) and a rainy day savings fund (also through a partnership). Now we are building full-stack versions of some of these key offerings and are much more deeply integrating them into the experience across products.
For example, there are significant network effects built into the ‘wills’ product. When you create a will on meetfabric.com, you can invite the executor of your estate, the beneficiaries, any other trusted contacts (ie: an accountant or lawyer), and anyone else who needs to know where everything is. When we bring those people onto the platform we're able to tailor the onboarding process for each of them, depending on what the relationship is to the owner of the will. We're then able to tailor product recommendations on the Fabric one-stop shop shelf. The more that we bring full-stack solutions into the one-stop shop, the better the experience is going be for the consumer. Another example is our digital vault. When you create a will on meetfabric.com, or if you have life insurance through Fabric, those appear in your family's digital vault. As we add additional products, they will all be tightly integrated into the digital Fabric experience.
Life insurance has traditionally been sold face-to-face by agents. So, when we were building Fabric, the question that we considered was how might we take a clean page and build a better digital-only experience that is unquestionably better than going through an agent channel. How can we create a digital experience that actually provides you with unique, differentiated information and support that cannot be replicated in a pure, agent-sold experience? That is the motivation and the genesis of the idea behind Fabric.”
What future product opportunities and strategies are you particularly excited about?
“Parents often chat on the playground about the challenges and struggles of being a parent. What's really exciting to me and what drives us is we want to be the go-to place for parents on the playground who ask each other where they found core financial and protection solutions for their family: ‘What did you do for life insurance or a will? Saving for college?’ We would love the answer to be, ‘Just get Fabric and by default, you will have everything you need. Just get that app and you'll be good.’ That's really the North Star that we're moving toward.
What gets us really excited in 2023 is that we want to offer families the power of compound interest in a tax-advantaged way. We want to make it very easy for parents to take whatever savings they're able to invest and give them a simple way to do it. That's a key product launch area that we're focusing on in 2023.
We're also excited about scaling our customer base and expanding our team to support that growth, both in new products and in deepening engagement in our existing integrated products. We want to continue to invest in more deeply integrating and connecting those products. So, we're hiring across every area of the business with a particular focus on engineering, product and design. That includes more senior engineers as well as junior engineers, product managers and product designers. Those are three key recruiting areas for us this year. Anyone who's interested in learning more can go to meetfabric.com/careers.”