While Lapetus Solutions is a startup based in Wilmington, much of its growth and market has been focused across the world in the Asian continent.
The company uses technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and facial recognition software to create products that predict life events for businesses including life insurance and wealth management companies.
Within life insurance there are four key parameters for evaluating a person: age, gender, BMI and whether the person smokes, Lapetus co-founder and CEO Karl Ricanek said.
What some insurers found was that many people misrepresent their BMI, which is calculated by height and weight. Lapetus is able to eliminate this error through assessing these parameters using photos, he said.
“From a selfie, we evaluate you for your BMI and for your smoking status, and we can look at vitals as well, Ricanek said.
The innovative nature of the technology Lapetus Solution uses means many U.S. insurance companies are not quite ready for it yet, he said.
“What we find in places like Europe and the U.S. is that their technology platforms for delivering insurance are antiquated, to say the least, because these platforms have existed here for quite a while,” Ricanek said. “They went from paper-based and emerged from these human-driven processes to now digital. They’re just honestly behind the curve because of all the historical investment that they’ve made over the many decades that we’ve been doing insurance here.
“In some of the more emerging economies for example, in the Asian economies, they have been doing this more recently. So when they went to build their solutions, they started to build future-forward, which basically means they have digital platforms in place,” he added.
The company’s introduction to the Asian market, including clients in Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, occurred during talks the company gave throughout Asia as part of a tech accelerator program by Plug and Play Tech Center.
“Because of our technology we have been invited to do talks all around the world, and in 2019 we did an Asian tour,” Ricanek said. “We brought our technology out to the market in Asia. We hit several countries while we were there. It has stimulated a lot of interest in our company. We are still fielding calls for that market from 2019.”
While the company is focusing on delivering products for companies, its research and work in facial analytics and machine learning can be expanded to provide solutions with larger goals in mind.
“We think about the technology that I’m trying to bring forward; think about the impact that this can have on minority communities. If we look at COVID, what we found – and many of us already knew – was a huge disparity in health among the different minority groups or the socially economically strapped groups,” Ricanek said. “Think about a public health app that anyone in our country could have access to that allows them to monitor their blood pressure and their A1C. Two of the biggest issues within minority populations [are] hypertension and diabetes.”
Lapetus has partnered with Nuralogix Inc. the developer of transdermal optical imaging, the basis for the Anura (pictured above) application.
Ricanek said he could see Lapetus and Nuralogix's technology used in smartphones to let people monitor their health as often as needed.
“If we can bring technology that says, ‘Hey, point your smartphone at your face, and within 30 seconds we’ll evaluate your vitals.’ That’s pretty amazing,” he said.
Currently, the company is housed at the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and has nine full-time employees, four part-time employees and 16 doctors who are contracted.
Since starting in 2014, Lapetus Solutions has raised over $7 million with insurance company Aflac being one major investor.
“Right now, what we’re doing is we are focused deeply on revenue generation. And we have a very aggressive plan to triple our revenue from last year,” he said. “Part of that is in looking at fundraising. In the future, we want to get good multiples, and in order to get good multiples you have to have a certain sort of formulation of revenue with year-over-year revenue growth.”
The company aims to do another round of fundraising later this year or in early 2022. Money collected in future raises would be used to expand the company’s sales workforce and in research and development.
Venturing into the U.S. market is not out of the realm of possibility for Lapetus Solutions especially since the pandemic has accelerated many industries’ plans for digitizing their operations, he said.
“Change is a big challenge for U.S.-based carriers,” Ricanek said. “However, COVID has made them rethink what they need to do and maybe to escalate their plans to take advantage of technology that would bring insurance directly to the consumers.”
Correction: This story has been updated to include Lapetus's partnership with Nuralogix Inc.