We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Heidi Rasmussen a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, thanks for joining us today. Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea
Healthcare in the US is expensive and hard to navigate. After years in the industry, Reid knew it would get worse. He was learning about some cool new services that could really help Americans control their costs and confusion, but had never used them. We thought it could be a great business opportunity, so here’s what we did…
1) We planned ahead. We lived well below our means for years, so we were in a position to boot strap our business. We were told: to build a business, you’ll spend twice as much money as you think and it’ll take twice as long as you think. See point 7 below.
2) We wrote a business plan. It was a simple Powerpoint that covered all basics of owning a business. We defined our vision, mission, the market size, competitors, our key clients/prospects, the product, the pricing, and a rough branding/marketing plan. We went simple and downloaded a template from the web. Basically, we got it out of our heads and onto paper in a structured manner so we could see what we were missing – and create a roadmap to build it.
3) We tested the idea. Would Americans use these services? Would employers pay for it as part of a benefits plan? We didn’t really know, but we had a business plan and ideas to share. So, we asked potential clients and industry insiders for their thoughts and what we were missing – and we ask mentors to help us along the way.
4) We built the product and processes. All that pre-work allowed us to build the product that we thought would sell, and simple processes to deliver it as flawlessly as possible (for new business owners!).
5) We started spreading the idea. A simple website and a couple marketing pieces allowed us to start sharing with potential clients. We learned where they were hanging out and starting marketing to them – speaking and networking at industry conferences, making thousands of phone calls, booking conversations with decision makers, connecting on LinkedIn, etc.
6) We learned and changed. We weren’t afraid to pivot when something wasn’t working. In the first few years, we changed our entire brand, our product, our marketing and processes as we learned and understood what our key client really needed and wanted.
7) We stuck with it. A lot of people quit or are forced to quit before they learn the necessary lessons to succeed. It can take years of planting seeds before the harvest comes. Many people don’t have the stamina or finances to ride it out.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
After 27 years in the retail industry, I took on a new challenge and moved over to the employee benefits industry to start freshbenies with my husband, Reid. From corporate life to entrepreneurship. From fashion retail to employee benefits. It’s been a ride!
As co-founder and COO, I launched freshbenies (as in, a fresh approach to benefits) to help Americans who feel overwhelmed with their benefits, healthcare and insurance. freshbenies is an employee benefit that cuts healthcare costs and confusion. We offer services like Telehealth, Behavioral Telehealth, Advocacy, Dental/Vision/Rx Savings and more…in one membership. These services really cut out-of-pocket costs and give access to experts who help our members navigate the healthcare system.
freshbenies was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America four consecutive years and the Dallas 100 two consecutive years. We have also received two Health Value Awards given to companies that are dedicated to providing innovative, value-based healthcare.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
When we started freshbenies, we vowed to be different than insurance, healthcare and other employee benefits. We figured if the world’s largest auto/home insurance companies could sell their product using a gecko, cavemen, the mayhem guy and bum ba dum dum dum dum dum…then, gosh darn it, we can be memorable and fun, too. Our brand is simple, conversational and fun in a sea of sameness in our industry. Beyond that, 1) from marketing tips to legislative issues, we’re constantly helping our audience with issues that pop in our industry, 2) we attend industry conferences and speak on topics relevant to our audience, 3) we have an amazing product and service that has saved our clients $92 million in healthcare costs, 4) we take care of our clients treating them as we’d like to be treated – and we do the right thing.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
How to choose, how to choose? In the first few years – as we learned and understood what our key client really needed and wanted – we changed our entire brand, our product, our marketing and processes. In 2015, we saw the need to take our services from paper to mobile, so invested big in tech and reengineered our entire member experience. Throughout the years, we’ve started new partnerships, enhanced our service offerings, and found ways to serve larger populations. We move at a fast pace and aren’t reticent to change – and we also hire a team that isn’t change averse. We’re also very transparent and bring our team along in the thought process, the financials, and explaining the industry headwinds that are causing change. This has helped us to pivot less painfully!