Being CTO in the Health Insurance Industry with Alan Leard

By Published On: February 12, 2019Categories: Blog, Podcasts, The CTO Studio

If you saw a need or an opportunity outside of your industry would you recognize it? Our guest did and he’s here to tell us about it. Alan Leard is one of the co-founders of Limelight Health, a quoting, underwriting, proposal platform that started as an idea for an app.

You’ll hear the origin story of Limelight Health today as well as how it has evolved, plus Alan’s thoughts on having four co-founders and making the transition into the CTO role. Join us for those insights and more on today’s CTO Studio!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Why four co-founders is the best number to have.
  • What are the three questions I ask every CEO before I join a startup?
  • When did he know it was time to make the transition into CTO at Limelight Health?
  • What are the ways they mitigate risk?
  • Why are the technical challenges of Limelight Health so attractive?
  • And so much more!

When I asked Alan to tell me what Limelight Health does he explained Limelight involves everything that needs to happen from the moment an employer says they are going to get insurance for their employees through the point when the employees are actually choosing the health insurance right for them.

The process is about providing accurate information on what plans are available and quote them accurately, as well as apply contribution modeling as far as how much the employer is going to pay and how much the employee is going to pay.

All of that gets wrapped up into a proposal that helps the employer make a decision. But how Limelight got its start goes back to one of Alan’s first businesses: a make-your-own wine bar

Before he and his wife had kids they wanted to do something together, they wanted to run a business together. When they came across the idea of a make-your-own-wine wine bar it seemed perfect and they set about making it happen. They ran their bar together through all the ups and downs that entailed.

That bar also led Alan to meet one of his future fellow co-founders of Limelight Health. It started after the wine bar had been up and running for about four years. Alan realized he was putting in 12 hours at the wine bar then coming home and making mobile apps as a hobby on the side.

Along the way he also met Garrett when Alan hired him as a musician to play at one of the bar’s Wine and Roses events. Alan had also gotten hired with Accelerator in a support role – he mainly offered support for other developers using that platform. When Garrett began talking to Alan about an app idea he had Alan’s ears perked up.

But Alan was no stranger to app ideas, he had so many people approach him with ideas that Alan had a series of questions he asked everyone who talked to him! The first was does that app already exist? Have you checked the app store?

If they had and the app wasn’t already made (which was the case with Garrett’s idea) then he had a follow-up question. That question was do you know what user stories are? Garrett didn’t so Alan explained to him what they are.

A week later Garrett came back with full-on wireframes and had written out user stories. So they built that app together, it was an app meant to help people find local artists online. After that Garrett saw the potential in his everyday line of work: insurance brokerage. This was about the time the Affordable Care Act was coming into existence and Garrett wanted to be able to help his families find the right options for them.

So they turned it into a lead gen app: you would plug in your household size, your income and location. The app would then tell you what your insurance was going to cost. There was also an in-app purchase which would allow brokers to have their customers quickly get an idea of what they were going to pay and then the brokers would help the customers sign up for a plan straightaway.

And that is how they found their other two co-founders Jason and Michael. Garrett showed them and a few months later they both came on board. That meant they have four co-founders and I was curious about what that first meeting was like.

Alan’s recollection of that meeting is fuzzy he says because he was the third-party; he had a lot going on outside of the app as he was running the winery and still working at Accelerator and a few other side projects. It took awhile before he became a co-founder and he explains why on this episode of CTO Studio.

We wrap up with a talk about the current state of healthcare, and what he is loving the most about being CTO of Limelight Health. This is a fascinating and frank chat about the reality of SaaS startups, working within the insurance industry and healthcare itself. Join us and hear for yourself on this edition of CTO Studio!

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