Benefitus

Problem

During my career, I’d been hearing many of my colleagues who were hired on a contract basis complain that the biggest disadvantage of being a contract employee is that they don’t get extended health benefits like permanent employees do. For instance, if they need to fix a tooth, they have to pay the full price, when a non-contract employee (in most companies) will have to pay 1/5 of the cost or even nothing. I started digging deeper to understand how this problem can be solved. The cost of individual health benefits plans was ridiculous, even taking higher contractor salary levels. So, many people couldn’t afford it and didn’t get it.

Solution

Affordable group health benefits plans for contractors, freelancers, and solopreneurs. Anyone can sign up, and the more members in the plan, the better rates we could negotiate with the insurance companies.

Status: Archived

My user research revealed that the real market for this service is quite low. I interviewed more than a hundred people who were working (or used to work in the past) on a contract basis, freelancers, and independents consultants. And I found out that about 80% of these people would not pay for this service because their spouse’s job (quite often, entry-level or even part-time) was providing the extended health benefits for the whole family. The other 10-15% were young professionals without families and they didn’t care about lack of health coverage that much. “I’d rather put this couple of hundred bucks right into my pocket,” said one of them, but it was a common mindset in this group. So, we initial market shrunk to 5-10% of the original estimates. Which still could have worked. However, the other side of the service – insurance companies providing such services – was another problem. In order to get any discount from the individual plans’ rates, I should have gathered a very significant member base. And even after that, the margin would be very constrained because it’d have technically been an insurance broker scheme. Not a significant margin range to play in. It could only start making sense after a lot of people join the service, so we could get “group buying power”. Learning how much smaller the initial market size was, this would have taken a very long time. Considering all these findings and nuances, I decided that it’s not worth my time, and shut it down.

Learnings

  • Validating ideas and assumptions early is critical and can save you a lot of time.
  • Target market size can be deceptive.
  • Sometimes, even a good idea is not worth the time investment.