CEO of Briza steps down as insurtech startup cuts close to half of its staff

Briza’s leadership includes Mike McDerment, founder of FreshBooks, and Rishi Sharma, former director of engineering.

The CEO of Toronto-based insurtech Briza stepped down last week ahead of layoffs that affected roughly half the company, BetaKit has learned.

Last week, Briza CEO and co-founder Ben Munro stepped down before laying off about 26 employees on Friday, according to communications from former Briza employees seen by BetaKit. LinkedIn posts have also surfaced with former employees who have been fired. One of the sources told BetaKit that the cuts include “leadership at the senior executive level.” Before the downsizing, Briza’s employee base was about 65 people.

Briza is not alone in cutting staff at the end of the year amid tough economic and fundraising conditions.

According to communications seen by BetaKit, CTO Rishi Sharma was named Briza’s CEO and was the one who executed the layoffs.

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Briza was founded in 2016 by Munro and Mike McDerment, founder and CEO of FreshBooks. McDerment is stepping down as CEO of FreshBooks in early 2021, saying he plans to focus some of his efforts on supporting Brezza moving forward. McDerment serves as chairman of the board for Briza, and Monroe is a board member. Sharma also comes from FreshBooks, where he was director of engineering before joining Briza as CTO.

BetaKit has reached out to Sharma, as well as Munro and McDerment, for comment. Monroe and McDerment did not respond, while Sharma acknowledged the requests but had no comment at the time of publication.

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Briza offers what it calls Insurance-as-a-Service, which allows businesses to instantly quote, bind and issue commercial insurance policies. The company’s platform connects insurer systems to insurance companies, allowing consumers to get quotes, pay online and receive those policies instantly.

Related: Layoffs at Canadian tech firms continue amid bleak 2023 outlook

The startup is backed by angel investors including McDerment and Munro, as well as 500 Startups and the Santa Barbara Investment Group.

Brizza’s last fundraising was in February 2021, a CA$10.2 million Series A round, bringing its total funding to date to CA$13.9 million.

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Briza is not alone in cutting staff at the end of the year amid tough economic and fundraising conditions. As 2022 draws to a close, BetaKit has learned of more than two dozen Canadian tech companies that continue to cut headcount as they look ahead to a tough year and prepare for a potentially tough 2023.

While there are companies that continue to hire, Indeed’s recent report shows that job postings on its site for Canadian tech roles have dropped 32 percent since May, and there’s no sign of the situation stabilizing. According to, 993 tech companies will lay off 152,542 employees worldwide in 2022.


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