The Zebra

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The Zebra
Insurance Zebra
IndustryVehicle Insurance
Founded2012; 7 years ago (2012), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
United States
Key people
Keith Melnick, CEO
Joshua Dziabiak, COO & CMO
Meetesh Karia, CTO

The Zebra is an insurance comparison site with headquarters in Austin, Texas. It compares rates from over 200 insurance carriers.[1]


The Zebra was founded by Joshua Dziabiak and Adam Lyons.[2] Originally named Insurance Zebra, the company was initially started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[3]

The Zebra was part of the Alpha Lab Incubator Program run by the Pittsburgh venture capital firm Innovation Works, where it gained the attention of venture capital fund Silverton Partners.[4]

During a private beta period, the company showed testers 280,000 quotes and found that it could achieve 95% accuracy.[5]

The company received $1.5 million in seed funding from investors that included Mark Cuban, Silverton Partners, Floodgate, and Birchmere Labs.[6] The funding was used to officially launch the website, with the company relocating to Austin, Texas.[4]

In September 2013, having closed a $3 million extended seed round, the company launched to the public in both Texas and California, the two states with the most drivers.[5][7] It initially offered quotes from 33 different insurers (approximately 90% of the market), requiring only a zip code and vehicle information to obtain a quote, although answering more questions, such as driving history, improved the accuracy of the quote.[5] Companies included State Farm, Geico, and Allstate, as well as specialized insurers.The quotes were provided from a direct relationship that The Zebra had with the insurers, or through a rate manual from companies that it did not have a direct relationship with.[5] The Zebra included real-time updating of quotes as users moved through the Q&A sections, and allowed users to shop anonymously.[5] In addition to providing quotes, the company lets drivers learn about companies’ coverage, read customer reviews, and evaluate claims satisfaction.[8]

The website allowed a more detailed quote for users who answered additional questions such as driving history. By the end of 2013, The Zebra was available to users in all 50 states, while increasing its platform to 204 companies that included 22 big carriers such as Esurance and The General.[9] It also received an additional $3 million of funding from its existing investors,[10] adding investor Simon Nixon to the list of new investors.

In January 2016, The Zebra announced that it closed $17 million in Series A funding with investment from Cuban, Mike Maples Jr., Nixon, Silverton, and new investors Daher Capital and Ballast Point Ventures, bringing total funding to over $21 million.[8] The company planned to use the additional funding to create educational tools that explain to drivers what’s behind their rates, and how they can reduce rates while increasing coverage.[11]

In 2017, The company announced a $40 million series B funding round, led by Accel Partners, bringing their fundraising total to $61.5 million.[12] The company also brought on Keith Melnick as CEO.[13] In 2017 the company added an "Insurability Score" which shows consumers to see what impacts their insurance risk, similar to a credit score for credit.[14]

The Zebra has received national media attention for its positioning as a disrupter in the $220 billion auto insurance industry and because of the founder's cold pitch email which caught investor Mark Cuban’s eye.[15] NBC Nightly News recommended The Zebra as a tool to compare car insurance quotes and save on rates.[16]

Company culture[edit]

The company is also known for its sense of humor and culture, having issued a joke which Time Magazine included in its Best April Fools’ Pranks of 2014,[17][18] and the company was named a Best Place to Work in Austin for four consecutive years from 2015 through 2019.[19][20][21][22]

Business model[edit]

The Zebra offers a way for consumers to get real-time quotes from car insurance companies by filling out an online form.[8] As the driver fills out the form, answering more questions about things like their age, driving record, and credit score, the quotes increase in accuracy.[8] His process also helps to educate drivers, who may not have realized how the different insurance companies price their risk. Because The Zebra itself is not an insurance agency, it’s not biased toward sending customers to one company or another.[8]

As of 2019, The Zebra provided over 1,800 car insurance products from more than 200 national insurers, representing a wide range of coverage, discount, and pricing options which saves drivers an average of $368 a year.[23][8]


The Zebra analyzes more than 50 million car insurance rates to compile its annual State of Insurance report.[24] The report covers topics including how much the average American is paying for their coverage, the states where rates are rising or falling, the most and least expensive cars to insure, how much a ticket raises drivers’ insurance rates, and other variables that affect insurance rates such as marital status, age, credit score and education.[24][25]

The Zebra has published additional, notable reports on topics that impact the insurance industry, such as:

  • Distracted Driving Report: This report reveals car insurance companies raise penalty for distracted driving 10,000%, proving that getting caught using a cell phone while driving is getting exponentially more expensive as car insurance companies are just beginning to penalize drivers for distracted driving.[26]
  • Gender-Based Pricing Report: This report uncovered that women now pay more than men for car insurance in 25 states (even though men are riskier drivers).[27][28]
  • Car Technology Report: In this report, The Zebra looked into why tech that makes your car safer won’t lower your insurance rates and revealed that despite proven safety and security benefits, new in-car safety and anti-theft technology features save drivers less than 1% on car insurance.[29]
  • Marijuana Report: The Zebra presented the most comprehensive survey yet among drivers in the U.S. who have access to recreational marijuana and found that 60% of drivers who use marijuana in legal states drive under the influence.[30]


ShowClix founder Joshua Dziabiak joined Lyons as the co-founder in 2013. Dziabiak grew up in rural Pennsylvania and started designing websites for local businesses as a teenager.[31] After he sold that business, he went on to found several other companies, before co-founding The Zebra.[31] Dziabiak was later named COO of the company, and landed a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list.[31][1][6]

Keith Melnick, previously President at Kayak, was named CEO of The Zebra in 2017.[32]

The company’s CTO, Meetesh Karia, also serves on Forbes’ Technology Council.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Netzer, Jamie (March 18, 2014). "The Zebra Offers Insurance in Black and White". Silicon Hills News. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  2. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (December 10, 2013). "How a 26-Year-Old Founder Landed Mark Cuban's Money". Inc. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Lalorek (October 10, 2012). "Why I Moved My Company To Austin". Silicon Hills News. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Todd, Deborah M. (March 10, 2013). "Austin ascends: High tech transforms Texas capital into a star". The Post Gazette. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Perez, Sarah (September 5, 2013). "Insurance Zebra Launches A Kayak For Auto Insurance". Tech Crunch. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Spencer, Malia (January 4, 2013). "ShowClix CEO departing for Austin to join Insurance Zebra". Pittsburgh Business Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  7. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (December 10, 2013). "How a 26-Year-Old Founder Landed Mark Cuban's Money". Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Perez, Sarah (January 27, 2016). "The Zebra, A "Kayak For Auto Insurance," Grabs $17 Million To Better Educate Drivers About Rates & Coverage". Tech Crunch. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  9. ^ Perez, Sarah (December 10, 2013). "Kayak For Auto Insurance Site The Zebra Grabs Another $3M, Launches Nationwide". Tech Crunch. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  10. ^ Bedigian, Louis (December 12, 2013). "The Zebra, a Car Insurance Statup, Raises $3 Million From High-Profile Investors". Benzinga. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Zebra, A "Kayak For Auto Insurance," Grabs $17 Million To Better Educate Drivers About Rates & Coverage". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  12. ^ Gensler, Lauren (September 19, 2017). "The Zebra Raises $40 Million, Taps New CEO To Expand Beyond Car Insurance". Forbes. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Wistrom, Brent (September 19, 2017). "The Zebra Hires Former Kayak President and Closes $40M Investment". American Inno. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  14. ^ Gensler, Lauren (October 24, 2017). "There's A New Way To Figure Out Why Your Car Insurance Costs So Much". Forbes. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  15. ^ Griffith, Erin (January 26, 2016). "High School Dropout Raises $17 Million After Cold Emailing Mark Cuban". Fortune. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  16. ^ "U.S. Drivers Struggle under Soaring Car Insurance Premiums". NBC Nightly News. July 1, 2016. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  17. ^ Theis, Michael (April 2, 2014). "April Fools: Austin companies crank up the pranks on day of mischief". Austin Business Journal. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  18. ^ Waxman, Olivia B. (April 1, 2014). "The Best April Fools' Pranks of 2014". Time Magazine. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  19. ^ "Maid service, 'treat yo' self' perks make The Zebra a Best Place to Work". Austin Business Journal. March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  20. ^ Pope, Colin (June 24, 2016). "The Best Places to Work in 2016 - the winners, how they rank and what makes them so cool". Austin Business Journals. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Zebra Named Best Place to Work in Austin for Fourth Consecutive Year".
  22. ^ "The Zebra". Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  23. ^ "The Zebra Car Insurance Review (2019) | Reviews, Ratings & Complaints". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  24. ^ a b Kunkle, Fredrick. "Auto insurance rates have skyrocketed — and in ways that are wildly unfair". Washington Post.
  25. ^ "Drive a little or a lot, car insurers charge the same". Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  26. ^ "The car insurance penalty for distracted driving rose nearly 10,000% this decade". Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  27. ^ Loudenback, Shayanne Gal, Tanza. "Car insurance rates are going up for women across the US — here's where they pay more than men". Business Insider. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  28. ^ Lee, Kristen. "Here's Where Women Pay More for Car Insurance Than Men: Study". Jalopnik. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  29. ^ Jensen, Cheryl and Christopher. "Which Of Nine Safety Technologies Will Save You Money On Car Insurance? And How Much?". Forbes. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  30. ^ Mintz, Sam. "DOT keeps Elon Musk in the Loop". POLITICO. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  31. ^ a b c Hawkins, Lori. "Meet the Austin startup founders who made the Forbes '30 Under 30' list". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  32. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (September 19, 2017). "Kayak Boss Takes Flight to Insurance". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  33. ^ Karia, Meetesh; Karia, Meetesh. "Forbes Technology Council". Forbes. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

External links[edit]