Interview with Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of EverythingBenefits
NJTechWeekly.com has been following EverythingBenefits (New Providence) for several years. This female-led startup is growing even during the pandemic, as it designs ways to help employers offer benefits to laid-off or furloughed employees. A recent addition to the product line offers small businesses a scaled-down version of its self-service benefits enrollment solution at no cost. In this article, we catch up with Rachel Lyubovitzky, EverythingBenefits cofounder and CEO.
Hi, Rachel. Please give me your elevator pitch.
EverythingBenefits is a New Jersey-based technology company that provides plug-and-play solutions focused on automating just about everything about benefits administration, proving benefits-cost transparency, and helping reduce liabilities and manual tasks for employers managing employee benefits.
What business problems did you notice back in March and April, when the pandemic hit?
One of the immediate observations was that many employers started putting employees on furlough and reducing their payroll. As a result, these companies did not have an effective way to collect mandatory payments, such as employee benefits contributions and 401(k) loan repayments from their employees who were remote or out of the office.
How did you solve these problems? Did you pivot in any way?
We collaborated with one of our clients to put together and rollout our newest solution, Payments & Collections, which facilitates the collection of payments for employers from furloughed employees. This benefits the employer in taking some of the pressure off them and employees, so that they don’t have to be concerned about lapsing on their policies and other financial obligations. Fortunately, we did not have to reduce our team. In fact, we ended up hiring to help support increased activity with companies adopting more benefits automation because managing remote employees had become much more difficult without the tech.
Did you have any problems converting to remote work?
Our offices are in New Providence, and every now and then we would have power and internet failures. So, our company was founded from the beginning with remote capabilities. When the time came, we were able to just send everyone home to work.
However, not having in-person interaction for so long has been very, very challenging. Some people adapt well and are comfortable and thriving in that model of operation; but for others, it’s a challenge We are all of us social creatures, some more so than others. So, as a company, since the minute we parted ways, we instituted a daily meeting. Every day at 8:30 a.m. everybody gets on the phone. And we use that as an opportunity to see each other. The first couple of months we always had a joke in the morning, something to lighten the spirits, but that ran out of juice. Now we are more structured, and make sure that everyone has visibility into what each part of the company is doing. We’ve also added some mental health breaks, for example, some yoga. We’re all going to do yoga together. We have a number of people who we’ve hired who haven’t met each other. Playing games and doing mental health exercises and other team engagement activities helps us all deal with the isolation.
What were some of the steps you took as a startup founder to make sure you weathered what the pandemic threw at you?
We hunkered down on expenses, making sure that we were operationally strong. Interestingly, we didn’t see much compression in our clients’ businesses, except maybe in the casino industry, retail and hospitality. That didn’t become noticeable until the summer, when these folks really began laying off or furloughing employees. Then business began to stabilize again, as our clients realized that this was the new normal and they would have to continue to provide benefits.
I understand that your business has come back strong. To what do you attribute that?
At this time, EverythingBenefits supports over 10,000 companies and millions of users. What helped us get here was really having an amazing team and an engaged client and partner ecosystem that inspire us and push us every day to try harder and be better. We also give huge credit to our technology, that’s making our lives and the lives of the members of our ecosystem easier and is solving many of the challenges that had been plaguing the benefits space in the past. Many businesses now realize that there are tech solutions out there to clean up those inefficient and error-prone processes (like manual benefits enrollment) that are costing them time and money at the end of the day.
What lessons have you learned during the pandemic?
We went through many themes over the past six months. The need for compassion, to empathize with millions that were affected in so many ways. The need to collaborate and to invest in one another to chart a path back to normalcy. Seeing our clients be resilient at this time has been inspirational, and encouraged us on as well.
For years we built our business in New Jersey. And, in fact, I have built three businesses in New Jersey, and we thought to be successful everyone had to be in the office. Well, guess what? We realize now that we are successful, and we don’t have to be in the office. There is some really amazing talent in Pennsylvania and Kentucky and Texas, and so we made a bunch of hires, making their qualifications front and center. It’s not about location anymore. This has been working out really nicely. EverythingBenefits has about 100 employees, with about 80 in New Jersey.
What trends are you seeing in benefits, now that everyone is working from home and/or companies are strapped for cash?
We’re seeing the continued evolution and expansion of benefits offerings like mental health, telemedicine, virtual classes — such as yoga/fitness/schooling for children.
We’re also seeing an increased adoption of automation in the space. The companies that relied on paper-based processes for benefits enrollment until now, this is the year many of them will automate and go digital. There’s also a greater need for cost transparency in benefits, so using tools that can audit your carrier invoices against your employee premiums or deductions is a high priority.
Were you helped by any federal or New Jersey programs during the pandemic?
Yes, we got a federal PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loan. It was helpful for us to continue investing in growing our team, to strengthen current and develop new partner relationships (we recently partnered with NetSuite, SAP and Worklio), to invest in new products that would ultimately give back to the affected business community, and to best position our company and the team for the market recovery.
What’s next for EverythingBenefits?
We have some exciting products in the works. In particular, we recently announced EverythingBenefits Butterfly LITE, which is a streamlined version of our powerful benefits enrollment solution offered at no cost for employers with 50–150 employees. Ahead of this year’s Small Business Saturday, we wanted to find a way to contribute as a company in our space. Employers will be able to get set up on Butterfly LITE fast, import employee and benefits data, and ultimately gain control over their benefits enrollment via complete self service. They’ll have access to reports and a KPI [key performance indicator] dashboard, and it’s mobile-friendly. We’re excited for small businesses in New Jersey and across the nation to take advantage of this solution.
In addition, we have more exciting announcements coming over the next couple of months, partnerships in the works. And we are hiring!