Over the past few years, the benefits industry has seen a sprouting of technology players eager to ride the wave of Zenefits’ initial popularity. Employer demand for simple to use solutions for complicated Affordable Care Act reporting requirements has only helped to fuel these companies’ drive to meet an industry need.

Bloomberg/file photo

To meet this growing demand, a handful of companies have launched, including:

  • Flock: A technology platform for small to mid-sized businesses that helps them hire and onboard employees, as well as manage HR compliance, launched in 2013. Most of the companies that launched in the past few years have not thought long-term, Flock’s CEO Raj Singh believes. Most of them grew fast and did not include the HR side — and now Flock is taking over and converting some of their business, he says. He points to one company, which he declined to name, that is losing a lot of business because it lacks HR tools.
  • TailorWell: An online solution to present prices and plans to employer clients. “We enable brokers to deliver what most of the small employer market wants and needs,” says TailorWell’s CEO Peter Morris. For some that is a bundle of payroll and other services. For others, it is transparency and efficiency in selecting and operating their benefit program. “We believe others have steered away from this segment because technology has not been available to serve small groups efficiently,” Morris says.
  • Bernard Health: Founded in 2006, the company’s BerniePortal is a web-based benefits and private exchange administration platform for small to medium-sized employers and includes HR functions. “The HR functions and user experience are key to BerniePortal,” a company spokesperson says. “By moving these functions online, employers and individuals do not face the hassle of paperwork, filing and storage.”
  • Ease Central: The company states they are a software company built on insurance DNA to provide complete HR, benefit administration and payroll solutions. An employer can use Ease Central’s integration service with their current payroll provider or utilize the company’s payroll services. The company primarily works in California but plans to expand nationally in 2016. “While our product has taken off with the industry shift to SaaS, we created this product before the Zenefits phenomena,” says David Reid, Ease Central’s CEO and founder.
  • Maxwell Health: Launched in February 2013, Maxwell Health’s operating system for employee benefits provides a centralized place to access health and benefits services. “It’s hard to build a benefits administration system that can handle the complex scenarios that are standard in benefits and even harder to push into the archaic technologies that companies are building on,” says Maxwell Health spokesperson Meg Murphy. “HR and onboarding functionality is key to our platform, and though we don’t have a proprietary payroll system, we make it easy to pass payroll data to leading payroll systems,” including Paylocity, ADP and Paychex.
  • Goco.io: A software platform for employers that requires only one system to manage employee benefits, onboarding, off-boarding, payroll, and other human capital management activities. “GoCo.io was built from the ground up first and foremost for companies and their employees,” the company’s CEO Nir Leibovich says. “The .. platform is a modern day human capital management system and as such HR is front and center in the features we built to help companies run their day-to-day business, administrative and operating workflows.” In November, Digital Benefit Advisors bought an undisclosed “significant” stake in the company.
  • Vertafore Benefitpoint: A provider of cloud-based insurance software for agencies, carriers, MGAs and MGUs. "Vertafore isn’t just surviving today’s landscape, we’re thriving in it. As an insurance technology provider serving agents, brokers and carriers —our business model is built around driving technology innovation and reducing friction across entire value chain,” says Vertafore’s VP of industry relations Bruce Winterburn. “As a result, we aren’t afraid of change, we’re embracing it and helping our customers thrive, too.”

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