22 Jul Wisconsin firm is iPipeline's first acquisition after $18 million investment
Milwaukee, Wis. — After a fortunate meeting at a trade conference and a successful four-year partnership, a Mequon firm, COSS, is merging with iPipeline, a software-as-a-service firm flush with $18 million from a recent series-A investment round. iPipeline is located in Exton, Pennsylvania.
iPipeline serves the insurance industry, aggregating 100 insurance companies and providing tools through the web that help over 700 web sites and 120,000 agents sell their insurance products. COSS develops point-of-sale systems for the insurance industry. The combination of the two firms, each of which has about 50 employees, emerged out of an existing working relationship.
“We’ve been partners with COSS since 2004 and used a piece of their technology in our latest flagship product,” said Larry Berran, who served as CEO of iPipeline since 2002 and is COO and CFO of the combined firm.
iPipeline is at an “inflection point,” Berran said, having seen sales growth that led it to seek its first outside funding since its founding in 1996 and bring on a new chief executive. The firm plans to use some of its investment to seek more acquisitions, though so far COSS is the only one, and to ramp up sales, marketing, research and development.
The relationship with COSS emerged from a trade show put on by the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies, or NAILBA. Dennis Raniewicz, a senior vice president at COSS, approached iPipeline because he thought the combination of the two firms had important synergies.
“Since we entered into the joint venture with iPipeline, our business has been increasing substantially,” Raniewicz said. “It made perfect sense for us to get together in a more formal way.”
COSS has developed a number of software systems in its 20-year history, and now provides primarily web-based tools for insurance agents and brokers. Chief among them is software that generates illustrations — year-by-year financial projections of life insurance and annuities that are used to explain the policies to buyers. The firm’s software can make illustrations for about 30 insurance carriers. Additional software covers analysis and marketing, as well as financial planning services that agents and brokers can offer alongside policies.
More recently, the firm developed iGo, a web-based form-completion system. Raniewicz said iGo has “really taken off” because large agencies work with multiple carriers, each of which uses its own forms and wants to drive agents to its own web site, which becomes difficult for the agencies.
COSS will be integrated with iPipeline, but the COSS brand will remain on its software. “COSS has developed a very good brand name in developing the illustration systems, and we will continue to do that,” Raniewicz said. “iPipeline has developed a very good brand name in distribution.”
In addition to the brand, COSS also expects to keep its presence in Mequon, as there was little overlap or conflict between the operations of the two firms. “It was just a perfect fit,” Raniewicz said. COSS has about 23-25 employees in each of Mequon and Charlotte, North Carolina, and a three-person office in Atlanta, Georgia.
For its new chief executive, the combined firm is bringing on software industry vet Tim Wallace.
Wallace was previously interim president and COO of MEDecision, a publicly traded healthcare information technology firm. He has also been CEO of Full Tilt Solutions, which makes product information management software, and Xerox Connect — originally XL Connect, which was acquired by Xerox in 1998 for $415 million.
iPipeline’s series A financing came from NewSpring Capital of Radnor, Pennsylvania, and Fidelity Ventures of Boston, Massachusetts. Financial terms of the deal with COSS were not disclosed.