June 27, 2023
Brandy Burch is the CEO of benefitbay™ a Passionate people-first financial, technology, and human capital leader who loves a challenge. Currently, leading the charge of empowering individuals to make the health insurance decisions that are best for their personal situations. Supporting employers and brokers with any challenges they face in the complex compliance of ICHRA with the leading technology and most talented team.
Brandy:The small businesses even if they're not startup and they've been in around fora really long time and have been a long-term company within a family, they havea lot of unique challenges, and so all of those challenges are something thatI've really enjoyed solving while I worked in a financial leadership spacethere.
Julian:Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast.Today we have Brandy Burch, CEO at benefitbay. benefitbay is a platform forbrokers, employers, and employees that enables quick and simple ICHRAdeployment for companies of all sizes. And we're gonna get into what that is.
Brandy, I'm soexcited to have you on the show, not only because of your background, yourexperience, but this whole kind of movement for ICHRA. And obviously we'll go,into what that is. But it, it's, it's exciting to see companies and employerstransitioning the benefits that they give individuals and.
Really seeing theshift in, things that are actually usable for people in, in their day-to-daylives. So before we get into all that good stuff, what were you doing beforeyou became the CEO of benefitbay?
Brandy:Well, Julian, first of all, thank you for having me. Before I became the CEO ofbenefitbay, I've been in financial leadership in a lot of S&B organizationsvarying from manufacturing, construction, financial services, and technology.
Found myself in atechnology startup before benefitbay that was in the insurance space, and thatreally led me to the founding position at benefitbay.
Julian:It's incredible to think about like the B, S&B kind of ecosystem and, andthat relationship with customers. How, how, I guess specialized is kind ofworking within the segment, being that it's like semi-personal.
There's some organization,but you know, it's kind of super unique.
Brandy:Yeah, I think, really the small businesses, they're, they're, even if they'renot startup and they've been in around for a really long time and have been along-term company within a family, they have a lot of unique challenges becausethey don't have the funding or the capital or all of the things to be able, allof the team members they need to.
Survive seasonalgrowth and, and so all of those challenges are something that I've really enjoyedsolving while I worked in a financial leadership space there. And so that'swhat kind of transitioned a lot of that background over to benefitbay.
And in regards tofinancial leadership, what in particular were you doing for companies and doyou feel like it kind of gave you the insight into, how you could help peoplewith benefitbay and, and what you're working on?
Brandy:Yeah, I often took roles in organizations that had been around a minute, butthey were in that transitional stage where they needed to handle a lot oftransformational change. They needed to grow beyond what they were comfortablewith, or the market started to adapt and change and they needed to do that aswell.
So that had beenfor my career, my MO is go in and help companies. Transition, become scalable,take that next step from small to mid-size business. And so from my career, itis all been around. How do you maximize the people? How do you maximize thecapital to build a bigger business? From an business that was existing.
So this is thefirst time I've been able to build something from the ground rather than comein and do transformational change.
And with thatexisting business, without injecting some sort of capital, cause I feel likethat's what a lot of people expect, at least within, this a and startup andsoftware space, which is like, okay, if I need to get to the next stage, Ijust, fundraise and inject some capital and then I am that company.
How do you do thatwithout having that access or wanting to just do it organically? What, what'snecessary? What's need?
Brandy:Yeah, well often, as a financial leader, you come into an organization, youevaluate what that's gonna look like. So, in an organization that's alreadyestablished, you traditionally already have those revenue metrics.
You already havethe margins. You already have those things that are needed to go and get a bankloan. So you're looking at a different type of business that has operationalhistory, data points, and things that finance people can utilize to go get thatcapital. Yeah, non-dilutive capital. When you're looking at a startup, you'relooking at how can you go get dilutive capital so that everyone can help youmeet those objectives because a bank or a traditional avenue is not availableto you.
So that's kind ofhow it, how it val, it varies and sometimes there are some, Some decisions tobe made. A lot of times in those smaller businesses that have been around awhile, they're spending money on things that they shouldn't be spending moneyon, or there are unfortunate decisions that need to be made to move thebusiness forward.
Or perhaps you haveto close in operations cuz now you're moving to remote or whatever that maylook like or consolidate operations. So from a financial leadership positionwhere you're coming in to make change or improve a business, there are a lot ofdifferent decisions and one of those key decisions that I often looked at was,How much are we spending on benefits and have they been taken to RFP in awhile?
What can we do toimprove those? There's often a lot of spend to be found there, so that's one ofthe reasons why that that experience also converts over to benefitbay.
How much of thebenefits were either being under utilized or the company was just paying forbenefits that, maybe their employees didn't necessarily need, or, segment ofit?
How much of thatwas just un inefficient, I guess.
Brandy:Yeah, inefficiency is key because it's really painful to change carriers, andwhen you're with a carrier for more than a year or two, they continue to raiseyour rates. Yeah. And so suddenly as, as a small business, you're paying toomuch for your healthcare, however, to make the decision to go take it out, toget a referral.
Crest for quote orpricing from other carriers. You can reduce your price, but then you disrupt youremployee population. Yeah. So there's all of those decisions to be made assomeone who's running a business, and often people don't wanna disrupt theemployees, so they won't make that decision, and suddenly they're paying 30 and40 and.
50% more than theyshould be for healthcare.
Julian:Yeah. And how much do you say like local business, like regulations for theiremployees actually impact that and, and is it dif, obviously it must bedifferent from state to state. And what's that different experience like?
Brandy:Yeah, it is different from state to state.
I mean, the cost isdifferent from state to state. The availability of plans is different incarriers. Yeah, from state to state. Yeah. And so what we've seen is a keyproblem in today's workforce is the distributive teams, right? Yeah. The teamsare all over, and now with remote work, they can be anywhere and we can findtalent anywhere.
However, it'sdifficult to find one carrier that works for everyone. Yeah. That has coveragein the area where someone may live. So that's an additional challenge for smallbusinesses, large businesses alike, is that we have diverse workforce and theyare highly distributed Now. Yeah, between ages, right? We have a lot ofboomers, we have a lot of early, early twenties, and so the healthcare needs ofan early 20 or a Boomer are two different things, and you're trying to pick aplan or a set of plans that works for a giant population and that doesn't work.
Julian:Yeah, and that's so interesting. How many providers are actually out there whoare able to service companies, or does, does, does, do, do companies, are theyresorting to multiple providers if they don't have a solution?
Brandy:Yeah, so companies are typically picking one carrier, but they're picking a fewplans.
So they're saying,mm-hmm let's have an hmo, let's have a ppo, and let's have, let's have an hsa.And then they're letting their employees pick between those three types ofplans with one carrier. So they do settle into a carrier because the way thegroup rating system system. Some works. You really can't have multiplecarriers.
Yeah. And so thatcreates a problem and the ICHRA solves that for that. Right. The, the newregulations that passed in 2020, allowing individual contributions for healthreimbursement arrangements. At an employer level for the employee gives adefined contribution, allows the employees to go spend that money at whichevercarrier they prefer, as long as it's an ACA plan.
Julian:That's fascinating also. And, and
how does that kindof, how does that come into play with people who are in different locations,who have different costs of livings? Is it like a sliding scale, in, inrelation to income level power comp? It just, it seems like there is that nextkind of challenge.
Okay. If we're not,having one. Standard provider individually, but now I still have that sameissue.
Brandy:Right? Yeah. Those regulations are set for compliance by the government eachyear of what is an affordable plan. So those employer businesses have to followwhat is the rate per employee, or how much can their healthcare cost?
Then how much dothey need to provide for that to be an affordable healthcare plan for them? Sothat's all set. Each year that rate has changed. A slight amount each year andour technology helps facilitate taking in all that data on the employees andletting them know what that value has to be to remain compliant.
Julian:Yeah. And what, what's the feedback from the employee side? Are they, very receptiveto these ICHRAs? Are they less receptive because it's not traditional? What'skind of the feedback you're seeing?
Brandy:What we're seeing is, it's, it's much like any type of large change. They wannamake sure they're going to be able to receive the same quality of healthcareplan.
For the same orless dollars out of their pocket, and once they're able to enroll and select aplan that does meet those needs, they're excited. Yeah. In often cases, they'resaving money, they're saving significant money, then they're seeing thosesavings to their personal family, and they're happy about being able to makethat decision for themselves.
They're also indifferent healthcare stages in their lives, so if they do not need to beover-insured, they can pick something that's maybe a little more conservativeand less costly to them out of pocket. Mm-hmm. If they're at a stage wherethey're having children or they have other decisions to make, they can buy upthose health insurance coverages at that time.
Julian:Yeah. And, and
what types of,ICHRA programs are out there? What, what do you see commonly, like, are peoplejust still using them for regular healthcare and dental and those benefits? Orare we seeing new or different types of programs being involved in a lot ofthese, employees kind of, guess overall health I guess ecosystem marketplace.
Mm-hmm. I'm notsure how you Yeah. How you would define it.
Brandy:Yeah. So, ICHRA in generals for the medical benefit. However, employers are nowmoving towards a defined contribution or a bucket of dollars to allow theiremployees to make all of those decisions. So yeah, what we're seeing from theICHRA adoption in the United States is that it's heavy in the states that haveindividual favorable pricing.
Right. Theindividual rates and the plan offerings in those states are, are reallycompetitive and therefore the individuals are really happy with their employer,letting them take the keys to that car and make those decisions. Now in theUnited States, it's currently favorable in 24 of the 50 states, those ratetables, so we have a ways to go.
When ICHRA passed,it was only 18 states. So we're making significant traction from 20 20, 20 20to 2023. We've grown in adoption in the states, offering more favorable plans,offering more carrier options. However, in the Midwest, we could do better, andthat's where I'm at. So in the Midwest, we don't have as as much competitive.
Advantage on theindividual side, nor do we have as many offerings from carrier perspective forthe employees to choose from. So what we're seeing for benefitbay is heavy inthe Northeast. We have a lot of clients in the Northeast. It's very favorable.So, For those northeast states, we're seeing states like Colorado, Floridawe're seeing Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minneapolis.
Yeah. However,right here in the core of the Midwest, we could do a little better.
Julian:Yeah. And thinking about, what's, kind of
how do it changesthe dynamic, with, healthcare providers and plans. Are we seeing any changesfrom that initial movement to ICHRA style plans or, or benefit kind of bucketsof stipends almost, if you will.
Is there any changein, in that you're seeing now in providers and plans and things like that? Oris that kind of to come as, as people start having a little bit more agency towhat they can choose?
Brandy:Yeah. What we're seeing is when we first started, it was a lot of education andyeah, a lot of, well, we don't really think this is gonna adopt, we don'treally think people are gonna do this or, The group side of the carrierssaying, we're gonna maintain this business and it's not gonna go over here Tothe individual side, what they're seeing is this is actually adopting andemployees and employers are asking for it, and that brokers within theecosystem are offering it as a solve when it does solve complex cases for theirclients.
Yeah. So in in thatregard, they're now listening and we're having much, a much better, yeah.Opportunity where carriers are coming to us to say, what are you seeing? Whatare the types of industries that are adopting this? What types of employers,what's helping them make the decision? How do we get in here and make sure wewin this business?
This will be thefirst time an insurance carrier can actually have a consumer for life. Yeah.When Igar continues to adopt you, and I can just decide, well, guess what? BlueCross plays my claims. Yeah. This other carrier does not, or UnitedHealthcareis not, covering these types of things that are important to me, so I'm gonnamove over here and go to Humana.
Right? Yeah. And soI'm just using names as generic examples. Yeah. But what's what's gonna happenis the consumer, based on their desire and how they were serviced at thecarrier level, at a consumer level, is gonna be able to make that decision. Inthe history, we've only been able to choose our employer benefits.
We might evenchoose an employer based on those benefits. They may change 'em the next year.So we have no control over that decision right now. And in ICHRA, we do. Sothat is something that's really important that that legislation allowedemployers to adopt this, allow it to still be tax, pre-tax or yeah, allow thoseFICA deferrals for the employee.
And that's a keylegislative change that's gonna help adoption.
It's so fascinating thinking about what thatdoes from the consumer standpoint and that relationship and, and also from thebusiness standpoint and how, really that whole relationship with, with theplans, with, with the providerS&Being a little bit more kind of consumerfocused is so fascinating thinking about, how that changes that relationship.
Brandy:And that opens the door for technology because at the carrier level, they'veinvested all of their technology dollars on the group side. To facilitate groupmore efficiently to give group service, to give group, binding coverage day ofand being able to confirm things on the individual side.
They didn't spend alot of time because they didn't want those individual one-off policies thatcame purchased by, a family down the street. They wanted the, what theyconsidered healthy populations that come from employers. Mm-hmm. And theyconsidered individuals going out to find a plan at.
Possible unhealthyrisk. We're changing that narrative because we're saying now these employersare allowing individuals to choose and they're enrolling in your individualpolicies. How are you going to provide them customer service? How are you gonnaprovide us customer service as benefit base, as we're enrolling volumes ofpeople and, and how are we gonna solve for these challenges you have on oneside of your business where the technology may be a bit legacy.
Julian:Yeah. And how has the recent changes in technology really allowed a companylike yours to flourish? Obviously, legislatively, having that ICHRA kind of, bepassed where people can actually provide their employees with those types of plansand, and it expands. But in tech techn, technologically, excuse me, what isreally kind of scaled this or accelerated the adoption of plans like this andof that particular piece of legislation?
Brandy:Yeah, I think, we've always seen. Startups be successful behind a governmentregulation or compliance legislation that's difficult to facilitate. Technologyhas to solve that for the people who are within whatever ecosystem that is,where there's a regulatory change. benefitbay is obviously going to benefitfrom that ICHRA legislation.
The other thing isthat technology in this space is needed because right. The in benefits ingeneral, it's very legacy. You have to make a change. You don't have aconfirmation of the change, the billing doesn't update for the employer for 2,2, 2 weeks. This, everything's so slow and, and maybe you've enrolled in yourbenefits, but you go to the dentist and it's not working yet because theyhaven't keyed in manually back here, your enrollment, right?
So it's ripe for alot of improvements, but at the end of the day, the employers have been saying,why can't we fix this? Why can't this be easier? Why do I have to have Susieand Johnny and Tom in my office saying they tried to go to the doctor and theircoverage isn't validated? So there are so many things aside from ICHRA that arerip for improvements in the carrier space, in the insurance space.
It's one of themore legacy. Platforms that are out there, or the more legacy processes thatare out there. Yeah. A lot of the ben admin techs that are out there have beenout there since the 1990s, early two thousands. There needs to be moreintegrations, there needs to be more live time, realtime integrations.
Yeah. If we thinkabout 401K and how far that's came. From pensions to defined contribution for401ks for employers, and allowing employees to make their decisions.Originally, you had paper forms. Someone came up out and educated you on whichplans to pick. You picked your plans, you turned in your form.
Eventually itshowed up on payroll. Then eventually your funds showed up in your. Fidelityaccount. Yeah. Yeah. But now all of that's real time. You can go into any ofyour payroll systems, change your contribution. You can set various types ofcontribution schedules. You can ask some que answer some questions about howyou wanna retire.
Yeah. It can helpyou through AI drive your decisions. That's where we need to be for healthcare.Yeah. We have the information, we have the claims data, we have everything weneed to help an consumer make the right decision for themselves. But we justdon't have that available for the consumer to make the decision.
And so this isgoing to allow the consumer to make those decisions based on their family, keeptheir employer out of making those decisions for them, keep employers out ofthe health insurance business, and allow the employees to make the decision.Also allows the employers to budget. But the big thing for us is that we wantedto protect the ecosystem.
We do think the brokerhas a. A key piece in this space. They do a lot of the consulting for theemployer on other areas, whether it be hr, whether it be complex, ERISAconcerns, whatever that looks like. And so the broker has a space here. Wedon't go direct to the employer. We are here to help facilitate with thebroker, decide what's best for their employer.
Iris not always afit if a population exists in various states that are more expensive. For thatsaid, employer ICHRA may not be the right solve. So we're not here to just goout and sell that to everyone. We want the best plans for the end consumer atthe most positive rate for the employer and the employee.
So that's wherewe're here to help make that decision quickly. We have a tool in the front endthat sets us apart and we call it the Fulcrum tool. It's really that tippingpoint of where is ICHRA fit? Where is it not a fit? Where's the go? No godecision happen. Yeah. And allow that to be a speed to market decision andevaluation.
So, Rather than,let's go to a spreadsheet, decide if this population works for this, and thenget it back to you two weeks later. They can do that live in front of theirclient and discuss. Well, I wanna do this or I want to do that.
Julian:So you, you work directly with brokers who have relationships with companies,and that's so brilliant because for them it really enables them to, to achievethat outcome with their employees.
They have such anintimate relationship versus trying to build it from scratch. Did, was thatkind of how the Yes. Genesis of the product came or was that along the way asyou were starting to build and, and test it out? It's brilliant. It really,because it, it's almost your, it's almost like an automated acquisition engineengine.
If it, if it goeswell.
Brandy:Yes. Yeah. Right. Or it's a sales arm as well, so, right. So part of theproblems with the startup is really having all that marketing and salesopportunity to really go and hammer this story to new people. Yeah. Build theirtrust. Have them cut off someone else who, who had their trust.
Get them to trustin new technology to facilitate something that's completely new to the market.We didn't feel that was the best. Adaptable process for us, although there'sprobably more revenue. You go direct to the employer and you cut out thebroker. We feel the broker has value in this system and in this ecosystem.
We also feel ICHRAis not a solve for everyone, and we wanna make sure that the employers and theemployees get the right program that's right for them, where they're seated andlocated with distributed teams. That's a evaluation that has to be done basedon the age of the population, the zip codes they're located in, the plans thatare offered, the pricing of those plans that are offered, and compare it totheir current offering.
So that is atechnology suite that we offer as a SaaS platform to brokers. That's where ourSaaS product starts. Then those employer clients of that broker become ouremployer clients and those individual employees. Are our clients as well. So weare really facilitating their benefits on behalf of them.
We're, we have alarge payment backend facilitation for these premiums to ensure there's nohiccup or hangups with coverage when you're dealing with an individual coveragebasis. We have real time banking technology. We ingest this banking data,transactions every single hour, and so that really, all of those pieces of ustaking out the pain of change.
Right? Yeah. No onelikes to change, so we need it to behave just like groups. But allow them tomake the decision. We need them to be able to make this decision easily, notfeel overwhelmed. Some of these states have 66 plans available. If you show oneemployee 66 plans, they're going to get overwhelmed.
You've got to helplead them to their decision through what types of doctors do you go to, whattypes of health concerns do you have? What types of scripts do you take? Startto eliminate those plans choices down to the ones that matter to them, and thenhelp them facilitate and make a decision based on a per paycheck cost and aplan comparison.
So I love that ourtechnology does that. It helps us stand apart from a lot of the others. Someare just showing a few plans. Again, that's not allowing them to make thedecision at overall what's available to them. Right?
Julian:Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Thinking about thetraction of the company, what's been exciting?
Not only, up tothis point, what's. Particularly exciting about how many companies you've beenable to actually, get onto these plans, actually benefit their employees andsee, a, a big map adoption towards this direction. What's been exciting up tothis point, and in particular, what are you excited about until the next mile?
Brandy:Yeah, I'm, I'm really proud that we opened our doors April 5th, 2021, and wewere able to onboard and turn on our tech. We turned on our tech August 1st, sojust four months in, and then we were able to onboard our first employees inSeptember. So, A small nine life group, right? Learn how to, work out the kinksand then move on.
Move on to January1st, 2022 with just a small group of employers of 80 employers, a small groupof lives at just around 1200 that put our average employee life group at around20. At that time, we've significantly moved that needle year over year to anaverage employer life group that's over 80. And so as we continue to look atthose larger and larger groups, we're able to move the needle significantlyfarther, quicker.
Yeah. But also the,the other thing that's exciting to me, when I joined here, I really never feltthat we would play in the larger organization space. Right. I thought, yeah,that really the s and d market or the under 50 or the 100 to 300 would be themaximum place where ICHRA would be a facilitation that an employer was lookingat or a broker was looking at.
We have an athousand life group. 1000 lifes. Wow, right. Wow. Yeah, that was, that was thefirst time we had seen something to that level of numbers. We'd seen severalthree 50 s, a five 50, something like that. But we hadn't seen that level ofsize group. Now we are looking at a 1700 life group that would come over from acompetitor and to us.
That is justamazing that a 1700 life group has been with ICHRA for two full years, thatthey're looking to stay with ICHRA, but maybe improve that technologicaloffering. Right? That's also positive. Right? So they're looking to improvethat experience. For me, those are the most exciting things for, for seeingthat this is not limited to that smaller business, that this is going to besomething that a lot of employers are willing to look at because they wannaallow their employees.
The opportunity tochoose.
Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think you mentioned it earlier, it's like it
could, it couldeven become a reason why a lot of employees actually go to companies. It's,it's really becoming a, a, it's interesting the employee employer marketbecause there's so much agencies for a lot of these employees who are lookingfor companies with the right benefits.
And on the otherside, companies looking for the right individuals to grow on their teams, it'slike, team is so important, company is so important. And, having that match is,is, is challenging and I'm sure there's. So many variables to consider in that,kind of engagement, but what's been, so necessary for going upstream and tothose companies?
Did you, was it a,increasingly doubling investment in technology? Where did you ship the businessto be able to actually service such a larger amount of customers? Because I'msure it comes with a lot of problems, right? More data, more information, moreonboarding, more variables, all this stuff.
Brandy:Right. Right. It comes with a better long-term customer value, but you know,that's, that's something that speaks for an investor and not to an actual painpoint of solving those problems. Yeah. For us, really moving that needleforward was looking at. Where are the opportunities and how do we facilitatewith our brokers?
So once we hadthose broker clients on board, they started to look at their populations ofemployers and they started to think of cases and scenarios where theiremployers were paying a lot or their group program had gotten expensive forwhatever reason. And so they started to evaluate within our tool set, whatwould ICHRA do for this employer population?
And they startedbringing us, Those larger groups. And so that's really how we went upstream andthen the Thousand Life Group, I mean that is really an HR person looking to beahead of, transformational change and be a leader in, in this adoption and say,I want my employees to choose. Perhaps a self-funded plan would've been maybe5% cheaper.
But that 5% is notworth our employees being able to choose, right? So we're gonna see varyingdecisions being made of saying, I actually believe in my employees being ableto make their healthcare decisions. And so, although maybe for the organizationit's a 5% swing, I'm gonna choose Ekra because I want my employees to be ableto make this decision for themselves.
And then once theyenroll, that swing may be actually, they may have saved going to RA becauseeach one of those employees are going to make a decision that's based on theirfamily. Sometimes they do choose a lesser plan and it, it doesn't cost theemployer as much money. Sometimes they choose a more expensive plan that coststhem more out of pocket, which saves their employer more FICA salary deferrals.
So there are allthese complex reasons why ICHRA is a fit or isn't a fit within an employerpopulation. That's why the technology is so important. Yeah. And the speed tomake the decision on whether it is a fit or not a fit for an employer. Becausewe a hundred percent wanna be able to identify populations of employees thatmay be seated in an area that don't have a great ICHRA offering or a compliantplan and a zip code that's going to be competitive or seen as, a great benefitfor their employees.
So we want to beable to address those things right away out of the gate, and have thoseconversations so that we don't create a bad story for ICHRA in themarketplace.
Thinking about it,whether it's external or internal, what are some of the biggest risks that you,your company faces today?
Brandy:No, our biggest risk is really investments in this space. So there's a lot ofinvestment in this space right now. Some large seed rounds coming out of, 11and a half, $12 million. Yeah. That are, that are just launching, right? Wehave a couple of years on 'em, which is great, but we have at this point raised7.3 million over this time period, right?
So we've grown alittle slower. Yeah. We haven't dumped as much money, marketing and sales inthe marketplace, right? And so having that brand recognition without thoselarge capital influxes really being able to keep up with the speed oftechnology without those large capital influxes. So that's a big risk for anorganization.
Yeah, we, we havegrown slow, but we have grown strategic and we have grown in a way that we canmaintain service and brand. Yeah. And continue to serve those brokers that cameon with us and took a risk in the beginning. Yeah. Successfully while we'readding and growing on with our business. I think that that's something I'mproud of.
It's just also a,it can be a risk when you're in a fast moving technology space, right? Itsometimes feels like the person with the most money wins. But at this pointwe're on great pace to raise a significant a in first quarter of 2024, becausewe continue to just show year over year. We're just crushing it on the numbers.
Yeah. The otherpiece is, I will say our team, our team is. Top, top notch. I mean, we have theexpertise and the passion for this space that really. Shines when we're on thecalls or when we're with our clients, or when we're solving those complexproblems or when we're, doing open enrollment, which we've all have to dealwith.
Everyone enrolls atthe same time. It's such an influx of people on the same number of peoplewithin every organization. So all of those pain points, I just think that ourteam stands out. With that always comes risk, right? Our team is probablyhighly sought after and will start to receive phone calls from a lot of thecompetitors, and that's something I always wanna continue to make sure that ourteam is happy and feels, valued and, and rewarded in this space, and that theyknow that we're building this together and that we're all in this to continueto grow together.
Yeah. Yeah, so farturnover has not been a problem. But no, that is just always something that, Imean, it keeps me up as night at night as a ceo. We have some really greattalent and, and we wanna make sure that they're just as happy as we are withthem.
If everything goesthough, what's the long-term vision for the company?
Brandy:Long-term vision is to become a end-to-end benefitbay platform. Really, thebenefit. Platform for this space. I mean, there is really a desire to be anembedded ICHRA platform within some of the other employee systems that are outthere. So that if an employer is a large employer, yeah, and they have todeploy some type of group product within their traditional BEN admin system,they can also deploy the ICHRA experience.
For benefitbay allwithin one system to their employees. It's really important for me that the enduser employees experience is not harmed by offering an ICHRA, right? So havingan employee have to log into one system over here and another system over hereto. To do this, I do not want that to happen.
So end to end soft.When I say end to end, I wanna make sure that we can facilitate everything theyneed to facilitate for their family. So regardless of the type of benefits,coverage or HSA card or, FSA card, whatever that looks like, that we're able todeploy that end to end, we're not there yet.
We're currentlymostly medical. Mm-hmm. Provider, right? Just living in that ICHRA space andspecializing there, and then offering the basic ancillary products withinwithin app. But we wanna get to the place where they can facilitate everythingthey need to facilitate within their employer benefits program within oursystem.
Right? That we'reintegrated with all of the other technology platforms. Were integrated with allof the payroll systems. We're currently undergoing a project with Finch. Finchis a large startup that had just raised a series B, but they are doing all ofour integrations for the payroll side of the business, and that's going to putus one step ahead of the competition.
Julian:So love it. I love that. And I love this next section I called my founder faq.So I'm going to hit you with some rapid fire questions and Okay. We'll see whatwe get. Okay, cool. Let's, okay.
First question I always like to open it upwith is what what's particularly hard about your job day to day?
Brandy:I, I think, I think the emotional highs and lows and yeah, that's from a CEOseat, there's lots of yeses, there's lots of nos, there's lots of wins, there'slots of losses. So that is something that, you know, especially when you'reraising capital and not doing that currently. But when I was, there's a lot ofnos.
There's a lot ofslow nos. You get excited and then it's a slow no. There's, when you're dealingwith customers, brokers, and insurance in general, yeah, there can be anythingright there. And we answer the phone. Everyone has my cell phone number. Itdoesn't matter if it's an employer, client or broker client.
And so it's just,it just depends on the day. We don't know what's gonna hit us. So I think theemotional highs and lows of that sometimes you might think you're gonna have a.Fantastic day, and then maybe something hits you and then some days you think,okay, I've got our jam packed meetings, I've got all of these things happening.
But then you get abig win and you're just so excited, yeah.
Julian:So, yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that.
I always like tothink in terms of, how your company actually might affect other things andother industries, and, what, what do you see, or is there any exciting changein terms of medical offerings and how that's maybe shifting, whether it's justbasic medical health plans or what's getting incorporated.
Are you seeing any.I guess, yeah, offering that just weren't, weren't existent in the past.
Brandy:Yeah. I think we're seeing more and more transparency in healthcare purchases,and I think that, Due to legislation, due to regulations and upcominglegislation coming. So in the past there were a lot of hidden fees withinhealthcare that just really weren't known or backend commissions or incentivesthat go to different parties within the system.
In the transparencyof pricing, we can actually help that employer and employee see where thosedollars are going and who, who they belong to and what part isn't healthcare.So yeah, from that perspective, I'm excited about that. I think the plans thatare being offered, I think they're more and more competitive.
I think havingmultiple carriers be able to win this business. Historically, an Oscar ambutter, Harvard Pilgrim. One of these carriers that are geographically locatedin a certain area wouldn't win over a flagship brand. They wouldn't in a groupspace, the employer's gonna pick the flagship brand over the lower name brandbecause they wanna keep their employees happy.
Yeah. What we'reseeing is the employees will actually pick one of those smaller plans becauseof the cost, and it may have better coverage for the things that matter to them.Yeah. So they're able to win that business, which is gonna help us havecompetition amongst the carriers and drive pricing down.
What has notallowed pricing to get driven down is because there's been a lack of really,there's been the same three or four carriers that are buying business from eachother. Yeah. Year after year and shifting us all around. Right. So this isgoing to allow a little bit of stabilization in the market.
It's gonna create adata challenge because now we have individual plans and a lot of thetechnologies that are out there that are evaluating health consumer activity,they're getting that data from the group plans. So, Now it's gonna say, okay,individuals are gonna have to give their rights away to share all of that data.
And it's gonna beharder and harder to collect that data on what are individuals doing with theirhealthcare decisions, and then what are those plans doing?
It, it'd beinteresting to see also how the, like you mentioned earlier in the show, butthe connection between, the provider and the, not even the provider, but the,the healthcare provider, the doctor practitioner with the consumer at thatpoint, because it's so directly correlated now with their ability to ch.
And, and, I thinkthat's a good idea. I think that's a good thing for things to be productive inthat direction. Get closer and more intimate and even challenge it, in a lot ofways.
Brandy:Right. It is what we, we can start to hear from our care providers too. Theycan. Start to tell us, actually, please don't do business with x, y, Z carebecause they, they, they, mark down the bill and they don't pay us for 120 daysand, all of these things.
And so we can startto drive some of those positive behaviors to turn the cycle around inhealthcare. I know I'm passionate about this. I have a daughter who's a thirdyear resident and has taken on a lot of medical school debt. And to become adoctor in the United States is, it's a very lengthy and taxing progress.
Process. Yeah. It'svery expensive. Once you get out. Now the rates they can earn versus theliability insurance they carry and all of the things. Yeah. It's actually goingto be hard to really motivate people to become doctors in our society. Right.And so we have to get to a place where we value our medical professionals.
We value, what wechoose and that those carriers are offering. The service that they're beingpaid for and that the medical providers can, can help us make those decisionsas well.
What's somethingthat you're good at now as a founder or ceo, but you wish you were better atearlier on?
Anything come tomind?
Brandy: Ithink the storytelling in the beginning. I'm an accountant so I'm veryconservative. And talking about objectives and what we're gonna do. I neverwanna overestimate, I always want to overdeliver and underestimate, and I thinkin the, I was slow to learn that in the venture capital world, they're going todiscount anything you say as a founder because usually there's a bit moregrandiose city of, of those goals.
And so when I comein conservative and they. Knock me down a little bit based on what, yeah,typically founders will do. Then sometimes, it's seen as, well, this is reallyprobably not gonna be enough adoption for us, and I'll look at my numbers andthink, well, how did they get there? Yeah. Well, and then, and then, solearning from the mentors that I've mentored me and said, look, they're gonnadiscount what you say by 20 to 40%, because that's normally how far foundersovershoot of what they're gonna hit.
And so I had to getto a place where I could tell that story more more confidently about what wecould do and stretch myself on what those goals looked like. And then I thinkreally learning when to cut my losses or to step away from conversations thataren't, aren't looking fruitful. I've invested a lot of time and energy intothe slow nos or the slow no partnership.
Or those reallydraining one-sided relationship conversations. And I've learned, you know what?benefitbay has a fantastic product and we do not need to do that. So we willcontinue to partner with great partners going forward, and we won't waste ourtime on those types of. Behaviors just thinking, we want a seat at the table.We wanna be at the right table.
Julian:Yeah. Well, I mean, personally, I think the strategy is so impressive.
Thinking about thevehicle of brokers, servicing them and really enabling them to accomplish theother parts. But otherwise, then you're almost trying to replace them,incorporating all these other bits of technology, regulation, compliance.
Right. It becomeslike a whole other product at that point, right.
Brandy:Yeah, and we wanna partner with brokers who are, who are utilizing thetechnology to do what's right by the employer and the employees, right, who aremotivated to continue to bring the right consultative approach towards theiremployers each year.
And that's whatwe've seen as well that I should have learned a bit earlier, is that there aregonna be brokers who are gonna sign up because they have one problem group thatasks for ICHRA and they really don't have a. Value in the space. They don'tbelieve in its long-term adoption. They're not going to take the technology tolook at where.
It can facilitateand support their employer, current client group. There are gonna be brokerswhich we have seen and had success with that are gonna say, oh my goodness,let's evaluate our entire book of business and let's see where this is a solve.And they present it to their employer clients. So when we invest a lot of timein educating our brokers, teaching them how to use our technology, all of thatfrontend expense, we have a very low price for our software.
And so, That is nota winning strategy for us, but it took us a minute to learn that. We have tomake sure that who we're partnering with is worth that initial frontendinvestment because that's gonna be a long term relationship.
Julian:Yeah. So smart. So smart. And I always like to ask this question cuz
I love how founders extract knowledge out ofanything that they ingest.
Whether it's earlyin your career now, what books or people have had Elastic Impact eventoday?
Brandy:When I. Was on the founding team of benefitbay. I originally came on as the VPof operations. Somebody who has a lasting impact on me is no longer with us,but he was our board member at Arvin Rohan, and he had been a long time earlyexecutive of LinkedIn and then had moved on to Cricket Health and was theoriginal founder, ceo, and then chairman.
So he really helpedme to. Understand that I had the skillset to be a ceo, that I had the skillsetto be successful in this role, but also how to handle the ebbs and flows andchallenges that come with it, next is really we have a current board member whowas also a founder, and he just checks in to see how I'm doing.
His name's KellyHalpin, but he just checks in to see how I'm doing as a human, right? Yeah. Andso much of that is lost in when you're in the ceo. C you cannot lean on youremployees. You cannot let your executive team know that you're having a roughday. You cannot let the team see that. You're feeling a little concerned.
You can't let anyof that out. And so having those people who you could go to and have aconversation and they're not gonna get concerned about, they know that you'rejust having a day, it takes a lot of grit to be a founder. It takes a lot ofgrit to be a ceo. It takes a lot of grit to continue to hit the, hit the groundrunning every single day In a tough world.
I think right nowis a really tough economic environment to be. Leading a startup, it's a reallytough economic environment to be raising. Yeah. And we get a lot of push frominvestors, on things that wouldn't have been a push in the past. Multiplierswere crazy in the past, people didn't care about margins.
They didn't evencare if you had any revenue and they were giving you large valuations. We haverevenue and we will get nitpicked on margins or something like that. Oranything that moves the needle. And I think that it's just a differentenvironment. To be in right now. So I think having those people that you can goto when you're just having a day, I mean, we're all entitled to have a day.
Yeah. We'reentitled to have a bad day, we're entitled to have great days. But to havesomebody to be that sounding board, to talk to, or that you know is gonna bethere to listen and really challenge you, I think that's just applicable. Yeah.We have an investor that came in when we were in some troubled waters and ScottShane is On our board, but he's with Comeback Capital.
And ComebackCapital has really been benefit-based comeback story, and I think if I had onepivotal moment for me in benefitbay, it was. Securing Comeback Capital's termsheet. It is the first term sheet I secured as a founder ceo, and it was in troubledwaters. And yeah, a lot of the slow nos I was getting is, well, you're a firsttime ceo, we're not sure.
We wanna see youprove yourself before, we'll give you a term sheet so they might have investedit, a long time in diligence. Yeah. Took a lot of my time and investment andthen gave me that answer from their committee decision and so, Securing Scott'sterm sheet, but then also Scott being a professor of economics, he is somebodywho will challenge you more like a professor would challenge you and help toget the best outta me, but he's still gonna be the person that's there in mycorner.
I was on the way toa national volleyball tournament last year, closing around, and Scott helped meget my DocuSign out, right? Uhhuh, I mean, he's just that kind of support. Inknowing that we're gonna be successful. And he has helped make some intros thathave been just so fruitful. And I think that those types of things, they'rejust invaluable.
And you learn thatthere are still people out there who are willing to invest their time to helpyou step your career up to the next level. And just because they met you andthey saw something in you and they're willing to do it, and it's not becausethey knew you 20 years ago or Yeah. Any of those things.
So that's beenreally. Really something that's made a difference for me is just having asupport system, a support system that's not your employees, because you needthose other support people. Yeah. They're challenging in the same respect, soI, I really respect that because they are not, they're not easy sometimes andthey, they definitely push me to where I need to be, and it's just, we all needthose people in our lives and that's how we grow.
Julian:Yeah. Yeah. Brandy, it's been such a pleasure chatting with you and not onlywalking through your journey, but also through Benefits Bay and, and you knowwhere the company's going, what you're working on. I always like to make surethat we didn't leave anything on the table. So last little bit before we talk aboutyour LinkedIn, your plugs and where to find you, is there any question I didn'task you that I should have?
Brandy:Well, I would like to say who I am as a person outside of benefitbay and I havesix daughters. That's something that surprises people. Yeah. I would like to,tell women out there that are climbing the corporate ladder and doing thething. You can, you can get there.
Yeah. And you willget there. And sometimes the most unorthodox routes will get you there. So
Julian:yeah, it's incredible. I, I'm one of, I'm one of six and I can't imagine youare. Yeah, I'm, I'm but, but we, I, I'm a blended family, so we're, we're splitup. Yeah. That's okay. But still it's a lot, it's a lot of resources, a lot ofenergy.
And I, and I, andit really disturbed me from having kids. No, I'm just, Kidding.
Brandy:Oh, no, no, no. I don't wanna hear that.
Julian:No, it's, it, it it's a crazy experience and I don't think a lot of people getthe collaboration that comes with big families. And, and it's translatable intohow you, with employees and with, with your, with people you have relationshipswith.
It's awesome tosee. So, last little bit, Brandy is, Where can we find you? Where can we be asupporter, a fan? Give us your LinkedIns, your Twitters. Where can we be? Wecan be a part of your team. Yeah, a hundred percent.
Brandy:So I would love for everyone to follow benefitbay. We're we, like I said, wedon't spend those marketing dollars.
So get out there,follow benefitbay, share our story. I'm on LinkedIn, Brandy Burch. I'm out onLinkedIn. You should be able to find me through benefitbay or just looking onLinkedIn for myself. I do have a Twitter, but it's not really, I don't tweetfor the business, so I, it's not too exciting.
I was on a recentmidpoint podcast. Pretty proud of that one as well. Really just, I'm, I'm newlyout there as I've always been an accountant and we don't really get out infront of the lines, so, this is, This is stretching that skillset for me. Butthank you for the time and thank you for taking the time to talk about ICHRA.
I'm reallypassionate about it and hopeful to follow up with you again later.
Julian:Amazing. Brandi, thank you so much for being on the show today.