One challenge small business owners tend to avoid is group benefits for employees. An overwhelming majority (up to 75 per cent) of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees donât have group benefits, said John Carinci, VP group and business markets at RBC Insurance.
âThatâs a substantial amount given that 99 per cent of businesses in the country fall into that category. The perception is that itâs either too expensive, reserved for larger companies, or difficult to purchase. But itâs important to have coverage, because it plays a key role in attracting and retaining top talent.â
What businesses donât know is that plans can be customized for the smallest of operations. And getting on board is getting easier by the day.
Startup League Inc. is helping simplify the process with what it calls an end-to-end digital alternative to traditional health insurance. The company is led by the team who were behind Koboâs success. RBC Insurance is the first underwriting partner for the service in Canada.
The platform includes digital health spending accounts, lifestyle spending accounts and workplace health services, among its coverage options. Business owners build the benefits plan that is right for their employees picking from an online menu.
Businesses choose what they want from the online menu. âIt could be a health spending account, a lifestyle account, a peace of mind plan for catastrophic events,â Michael Serbinis, Startup League founder and CEO, said.
Employers then enroll employees via a dedicated portal. Employees receive an email to create their account and install the app that includes a digital wallet. They can also use the app to find the nearest health services, book appointments directly and pay.
âItâs like walking out of Uber. The payment happens and youâre done. This reduces the hours of getting reimbursed to seconds,â Serbinis said.
Businesses can change their plan at any time. For example, an employer may decide to budget $500 a year per employee for their coverage of choice. As they grow, they can increase the digital wallet, or transition to a full health and drug plan.
Itâs a concept that goes far beyond signing up for insurance programs online, Serbinis said. âIt changes the whole mindset of collecting premiums and avoiding claims to avoid costs. It takes the frustration out of the whole experience.â
Portag3 Ventures closes new fintech fund
Partag3 recently closed a fund that the partners say is committed to finding creative, ambitious entrepreneurs who will help reshape the Canadian fintech sector to benefit all consumers and to help technology entrepreneurs build global companies.
Adam Felesky, a co-founder and former CEO of Horizons ETFs, has been named president and will run day-to-day operations at the fund. Paul Desmarais III, a vice-president at Power Corporation of Canada and Power Financial Corp., will serve as executive chairman of Portag3.
Portag3 is exclusively backed by a corporate partnership between Power Financial Corp., IGM Financial Inc. and Great-West Lifeco Inc. Members of the group have already made a number of promising investments, including stakes in one or more of Wealthsimple, Borrowell,Â Clearbanc, Koho and League. For more information, go to: p3vc.com.
Food delivery services are a growing segment, especially in Canada
On-demand restaurant delivery services are taking the urban markets by storm âÂ helping restaurateurs up their revenue streams by as much as 30 per cent a month, David Albert, managing director of Foodora Canada, said. Foodora entered the Canadian market in 2015 when it acquired Toronto startup Hurrier and rebranded this past January.
NPD Group research shows âdigital-door spendingâ â which encompasses traditional delivery services (e.g. pizza), newer players that drop restaurant deals at customersâ doors, and meal-kit providers â topped $1 billion in Canada in the past year. Itâs a trend that is largely driven by 18 to 34-year-olds.
Canada is especially big on delivery services, Albert said. âIt is one our top performing markets globally, showing a tenfold increase in orders since last year.â
There are two primary reasons restaurants have not offered meal delivery in the past, he said. âHiring delivery people increases headcount and overhead costs. Also, owners werenât confident that their meals would arrive as fresh and hot as they do in the dining room.â
Food delivery platforms can remove the time and resources barriers for restaurants, since the service takes care of preparing routes, quoting delivery times and managing delivery staff. They also help restaurants to extend their business and reach new customers through the delivery servicesâ web and mobile apps.
Calgary markets itself as a place to start a business now
Calgary Economic Development is launching a national integrated marketing campaign to inspire entrepreneurial businesses to be part of the provinceâs innovative and economic diversification. The âBe part of the energyâ campaign is sharing remarkable stories of the regionâs companies and entrepreneurs who are making a global impact, to encourage like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses to locate, expand or invest in Calgary.
âEven in a downturn, Calgary is a great place to live, work, invest and do business,â said Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development in a statement. âThe counter-cyclical opportunities that exist in Calgary with competitively priced office and industrial space and available specialized talent mean the time for businesses to consider Calgary is now.â
Evolocity and Startup Canada announce winners of Women Founder Fund
Evolocity, a fintech company, and Startup Canada announced the first four winners of the Startup Canada Women Founder Fund, which just launched in August. The fund provides micro-grants to female entrepreneurs and women-led companies in Canada to help them start and grow their businesses.
The winners are: YUMiTRITION/YUMiBox founded by Mengyin Hong, a monthly subscription service for seasoned whole-grain mixes; Welbi, an app for tracking smartwatch or Fitbit data to monitor daily activities, founded by Elizabeth Audette Bourdeau; Shecosystem Inc., a co-working space and community hub for women, run by Emily Rose Antflick; and Spreza, a developer of voice recognition software, owned by Heather Evans.
First published at http://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/small-business-digest/customized-plans-put-group-benefits-in-reach-of-small-business-owners