Exclusive Industry Interview: BriteCo CEO Dustin Lemick Plans For Future As Company Raises $9m Series A

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HomeLearning CenterGemologyGem and Jewelry NewsExclusive Industry Interview: BriteCo CEO Dustin Lemick Plans For Future As Company Raises $9m Series A

Last month BriteCo, the insurtech company making jewelry and watch insurance more accessible, secured a $9 million Series A. Led by CEO Dustin Lemick, a jewelry and insurance industry veteran, the company will use the funds to grow its team and expand services.

We sat down with Lemick to talk about the market-need for BriteCo and what they're doing differently.

"We built our insurance product from the ground up. There were huge barriers in this space, and for a long period of time no new players," Lemick explained. "But with technology, we realized we could really improve the process and improve the product. Our biggest competitor hasn't changed their product for like 30 or 40 years. That's insane to me."

Frustrated with the insurance process for customers, but also the appraisal process for jewelers, Lemick teamed up with marketing veteran Jon Ortbal, insurance expert Conor Redmond, and tech whiz Ben Mautner to create their intuitive and fast platform. Jewelers can offer customers a verified appraisal and insurance during their checkout process, or customers can use BriteCo on their own in direct-to-consumer fashion.

"We probably have close to 150,000 appraisals through our network of nearly 3,000 jewelers to date," Lemick told us. "In my previous life as a jeweler, I had many customers asking me where to get insurance. And I thought, 'Hey, why are my answers so poor?' I would hand them a business card or refer them to a company, but the process was always horrible. That was really the first ideation of what BriteCo is now."

Guided through the process in just a few minutes, customers get an insurance quote from BriteCo (who partners with insurance carrier HDI Global) that covers everything from theft to loss, damage and even mysterious disappearance. Plus, it comes with a month-to-month subscription-like payment service that's familiar and flexible.

But, what has also distinguished BriteCo is its innate industry know-how. Lemick knows jewelry: he is a third-generation jeweler. His grandfather founded Cy Fredericks Jewelers, a luxury jewelry and watch company based in Chicago, in 1958. Lemick served as President of the family business prior to founding BriteCo.

Like their founder, BriteCo claims specialists understand jewelry, and the system is built to protect customers with features like automatic updates to coverage each year thanks to sophisticated prediction models. In case they need to make a claim, customers can even count on being sent to a local jeweler rather than a random jewelry network.

"We speak jewelry. So when they tell us a piece has a center stone with medium fluorescence, we understand exactly what that means and what that's worth," Lemick adds. "Our process is really streamlined, so there's no back and forth like with a lot of these legacy carriers that don't understand the jewelry industry."

BriteCo was built specifically to protect customers, with automatic value updates providing real value protection over time. "Let's say a legacy carrier writes an insurance policy seven years ago for $10,000. Over time, this piece goes up in valuation, and if a customer has to make a claim years later, and that valuation hasn't been updated, they're only covered up to that initial amount. That's a real problem I dealt with working as a jeweler — so it was really important for us to come up with a system and algorithms that are updated with market data in real time."

Elaborating on how the old process is usually long and painful, Lemick explained that BriteCo leverages their industry knowledge and retail partners to make working on a claim and replacing jewelry a much more seamless process.

"I really wanted the best product on the market, and to also provide the best value. And that's what we're doing with BriteCo, looking to provide the best services we can in all respects."

Looking past the $9 million Series A, we asked Lemick what's on the horizon.

"We've been leveraging technology from day one in a really meaningful way, and that's allowed us to keep our headcount relatively low. But we're excited to expand and hire more people to grow with us — because we've been growing exponentially every month," he admitted. "At some point, there will be new products, services and partnerships, too."

And as far as how he's feeling about this gold rush, Lemick says he's excited for the journey ahead.

"But I'm also relieved, too. Anyone who's raised capital knows it's a painstaking process. So after all this, I'm really just humbled that my team could do this — the credit really goes to them. This is much more my team than it even is me."

Cate Misczuk

Cate Misczuk is a jewelry and watch writer who covers everything from the latest jewelry trends and the heritage of watchmaking to 24k gold, gems, sustainability, unisex timepieces and more. Get in touch at catemisczuk.com.

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