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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 7 months ago

A flood of interest

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Trevor Burgess back in St. Petersburg with Neptune.

Trevor Burgess won much acclaim in the Tampa area business community — plus national trade publication American Banker — for his leadership role in reshaping a struggling Manatee County bank.

That odyssey, from Community Bank of Manatee to St. Petersburg-based C1 Bank, culminated in one of the largest bank sales in Florida in 2016. That's when Little Rock, Ark.-based Bank of the Ozarks bought C1 for $402 million.

Then Burgess exited the spotlight. He moved from St. Pete to suburban Boston with his husband and their daughter. He traveled the world with his family, hitting 13 countries. “We had a fantastic time,” Burgess tells Coffee Talk, “and it was a great break from business.”

Now the break is over — in a big way.

Burgess recently led a $2 million investment in Neptune Flood, a startup flood insurance provider based, ironically, in St. Petersburg. Burgess is now chairman of the board at Neptune and a majority owner, and he plans to travel to St. Petersburg a few times a month. (He also remains on the board of the Dali Museum.)

Burgess got into Neptune after chatting with the firm's co-founder, Bill Martin, a friend and business contact. The pitch: Neptune, through advanced technology, predictive analytics and sophisticated mapping tools, aims to disrupt the government-dominated national flood insurance market with a simplified approach and pricing structure. The company has a direct-to-consumer model, where homeowners, whether they are in a flood zone or not, can buy flood insurance in less than three minutes online — without elevation certificates. Some National Flood Insurance Program policies take 30 days to buy and implement.

Homeowners can save up to 25% from NFIP rates, Neptune co-founder and CEO Jim Albert says in a statement. Neptune, adds Albert, also offers higher limits, and coverage options not available through the NFIP. Another draw: Lloyd's of London backs the Neptune policies.

Burgess, liking the idea of getting back into a highly regulated financial services company given his rapid success at C1, agreed to invest in Neptune earlier this year. The $2 million will help the company expand its sales and marketing efforts nationwide, according the statement. The products are currently available in Florida, Virginia and Texas, and Neptune targets expansion in at least a dozen states this year. A new website is expected to debut later this month. “This is my next full-time adventure,” says Burgess. “I want to build an amazing, customer-service focused, flood insurance company.”

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