Several Tampa Bay businesses recently made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America; leading the way for St. Petersburg was Neptune Flood Insurance at 205.
Founded in 2016 and launched in 2018, Neptune Flood merges technology, math algorithms and industry expertise to create an intuitive platform that offers affordable, on-demand coverage.
Four years later, the insurtech firm is the nation’s largest digital flood insurance provider with over 125,000 clients across every state except Kentucky and Alaska.
“More than anything, it’s just recognition of the hard work the team has put in to build the company we’ve built,” said Trevor Burgess, president and CEO. “And we’re super proud to have built that in St. Petersburg, Florida, and to have been the fastest-growing company in St. Pete.”
The recent designation has an added meaning for Burgess, as it marks his second company to appear on the list. Before assuming the helm at Neptune in December 2019, his prior entrepreneurial venture – C1 Bank, also headquartered in St. Pete – made the Inc. 5000 in 2012 and 2014.
Burgess sold C1 Bank before purchasing a controlling stake in Neptune in January 2018. While it never ranked as high as his latest company – among the top 5% of all private businesses – Burgess said he is getting better with age.
“There’s this term, ‘serial entrepreneur,’ and I was thinking about how do I qualify for that,” he said lightheartedly. “I think if you’ve had two companies on the Inc. 5000, you’re probably officially qualified as a serial entrepreneur.”
Burgess credited his ability to identify business opportunities and rally talented people around the idea for reaching the milestone. He said doing that across two separate industries is especially rewarding, particularly for someone who spent the first part of their career helping other entrepreneurs grow their companies.
Now expanding his own business, Burgess said Neptune’s success stems from utilizing technology to build the company from scratch. That foundation allows the platform to keep a small team, despite its national reach.
“To be a company as large as we are, with only 39 employees, really tells you something about the technology investments that we’ve made,” he added. “And our ability to leverage that technology to serve our clients and grow our business.”
Neptune remains a tech-first company, which Burgess said sets it apart from other insurance agencies. He explained that the platform is fully automated and utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to efficiently deliver its products.
Burgess said he believed in Neptune’s potential for success due to market research. He relayed there are around six million flood insurance policies in the U.S., although he believes that number should be closer to 60 million.
Most of those six million policies are through the federal National Flood Insurance Program – and Neptune’s leadership decided to offer an alternative by targeting the other 90% of households they believe should have coverage.
While Burgess identified a significant market opportunity, he stressed the hard part was “getting it right.”
“When I first invested and bought the majority stake in Neptune, it had 50 customers,” said Burgess. “Today, we have 125,000. So, we’ve built it into something that I didn’t expect we would build it into.”
From day one, Burgess said he applied lessons ascertained from building C1 Bank for over seven years to Neptune, which also aided in its exponential growth.
He believes headquartering in St. Petersburg has also helped Neptune, as Burgess succinctly said that it’s a place his employees want to live. He called the city a unique mix of arts, culture, a walkable downtown and “quite frankly, an environment where it’s clear that all are welcome.”
He said those benefits attract top talent from across the country, and his employees from New York and Washington, D.C. have made St. Pete their long-term homes. He is adamant that both his companies have benefitted from basing operations in the city.
“Like Austin is to Texas, St. Pete is to Florida,” said Burgess. “Ranking so highly on this Inc. 5000 list, I hope it gives inspiration to other entrepreneurs that St. Pete is a great place to build a business.”
Burgess remains focused on expanding services to those not living in a flood zone but whose homes are still at risk, and those areas will likely continue broadening as the climate changes. While he would prefer that sea level rise was not a reality, he is excited to help mitigate potential losses.
Like many leaders, Burgess said his surrounding team for the company’s success. He noted that five of Neptune’s eight senior employees followed him for C1 Bank and credited them – along with the original founders and new hires – for helping earn the designation of St. Petersburg’s fastest-growing private company.
“So, it’s not just me being a serial entrepreneur,” he said. “But sort of serial leadership team doing St. Pete proud.”