Who We Are And How We Got Here

How We Started and Where We are Headed
Bobby Sain
April 25, 2022
5
min read

It all started while building a company in the hospitality space, my cofounder and I discovered a world of unsolved problems in offering health care benefits.    

In 2015, building a platform that allowed customers to tap into workers on-demand seemed like an obvious need in the market. We called it Waitron, after the title given to me and my fellow waiters and waitresses at the restaurant where I worked in college. Hospitality-focused businesses could connect to hospitality staff in-real time. Why did this solution not exist in the market? If a restaurant was short-staffed, they needed a trained worker immediately, not in two days. If a catering company was brought in for a last-minute wedding, who was going to bartend during the second electric slide?

It was painfully clear that someone needed to build this solution. “Uber-for-X” was everywhere in 2015, so building an Uber for waiters and bartenders was the next step in the product-market-fit growth cycle that entrepreneurs such as myself shamelessly mimicked. The problem was obvious. Or so we thought.

It turns out, the problem of figuring out how to connect a business to a worker was a simple one to solve. Give the customer a tool to book a service. Give the workers performing that service clear information on where to be and what to do. Make sure the person buying can pay, and make sure the person performing the service can earn an income. How revolutionary we thought we were, connecting a buyer with a seller? True brilliance.

But, what happened after the customer booked a worker? That is where the actual problems began. How many text messages do we send to a bartender to get them to show up on time? Are uniforms something we should codify into the platform or should that be left up to the customer? Was our brand attracting the right customer? Are the workers independent contractors or employees? If we make them employees of our company, how do we provide them with benefits? In fact, how did these workers access benefits before we came along?

During year 3 of building Waitron, it was the last question over which I became obsessed. It led to the question that built Meridio - how do workers, in this future of work that the world is building, gain access to benefits?

We spent 4 years building Waitron and ultimately sold it to Qwick in 2019 - 4 months prior to the pandemic. Starting in 2019, while building up Waitron for a sale, I consumed everything I could about worksite insurance.

  • Why is insurance connected to work?
  • How do employees learn about insurance at work?
  • How do they buy it? Once the employee buys it, how does the carrier collect the money?
  • Why is it traditionally done through payroll?

Again, many questions and very few answers. It felt familiar. We knew we were on to something. In 2019 we thought that the world was moving toward mobile and remote. In 2020, it needed to; the world changed.

Work needed a better way for workers to connect to their benefits.

In-person enrollment conditions were getting harder to come by, employees were lacking knowledge of what insurance they should buy and what it did when they bought it. We found that only 48% of employees actually understood the benefits they purchased - that is 92 million people in the United States. It was becoming too expensive for employers to offer healthcare, and too cumbersome for employers to offer supplemental insurance in a way their employees could understand. SaaS-focused insurance enrollments were being built to move as much product out the door as possible while providing little guidance to the employee. The occasional read-along material and corporate instructional videos were all that the market had provided for employees making these significant financial decisions.

This new world needed a better benefits experience for every stakeholder: the employee, the employer, the broker, and the carrier. It needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. Enter Meridio.

At Meridio, we are reimagining what it means to connect people with benefits. Using the thinking from our Waitron days, we match employees up with licensed experts, called Benefit Guides, in real-time so they can make benefits decisions with unbiased guidance. No pushy commission-based insurance enrollers. No complex benefits jargon. Employees simply receive expert insight to help them make better benefits decisions in a world that is becoming more complex.

For Carriers, Meridio provides a purpose-built experience that helps them deliver an edge for their brokers, clients, and partners. Our platform gives carriers a superpower so their distribution network can reach customers anywhere, anytime, while we manage the complexity of payments, terminations, and compliance.

For Brokers, Meridio provides an enrollment solution so they can create value for their clients without the headache of traditional enrollment companies and with the ability to enroll benefits anywhere in the country at the same rate as an in-person agent.

Society is building a world that people have dreamed about for centuries. This new world is complex but it also has freedom we have never seen before. Freedom to move around, freedom of choice, and freedom to explore. But with that freedom, we need guidance from unbiased experts so we can make the best decision possible. Meridio’s platform is a trusted advisor for this new world to deliver a better benefits experience for everyone involved.

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