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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive
Christy Rivers -
Needed Solutions for the Quarantine Economy
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – July 20, 2020
CEOCFO: Mr. Menell, what is the concept behind Verimos™?
Mr. Menell: In this time where business resilience is being challenged, we help the small to medium sized business owners to support the health, wellbeing and safety of what we call the foundational workforce. It is the term we ascribe to people who make their living while not being deskbound, such as delivery drivers, the gig economy and restaurant staff. They need to be physically healthy in order to earn money, but it is very hard to assess their health and wellbeing because they do not work in the corporate office tower. You do not see them face to face every day. It turns out that eighty percent of the global workforce does not sit behind a desk every day and that is about one hundred and thirty-
CEOCFO: It sounds as if when someone is in your office you notice if they are not feeling well or is it more that when you are in the same physical space you can say, “Gee, did you go get a check up?” Why is it different if a company has people in the office and they can see them as opposed to if they are out on the road somewhere or working from home?
Mr. Menell: When we look at the landscape of companies that provide solutions around this, they are entirely made for offices. Like a weight loss challenge or some sort of health challenge and it is all made for people who are all together. If we are physically all in an office together and we are in a meeting and I see you and you have brought your box of Kleenex with you and your nose is all red, I can tell you are not feeling well and something is wrong with you. However, if you are a delivery driver in my company and you are out in the field and I did not see you all day, I have no idea how you are doing.
Even more importantly, many of these foundational workers are on the front lines of the customer experience, so it is bad enough that you are not feeling well enough to go to work or to be at your best at work that day, but even worse, that you are talking to customers and I do not even know it. Therefore, the customer’s experience with your company and your brand is with that person that you are not seeing and you have no idea how they are doing. It is much easier in our traditional notion in an office tower, but that is just not the reality for most of America’s workforce.
CEOCFO: What is the Verimos solution?
Mr. Menell: It is a technology platform and there are two parts to it. One is a multi-
The second part is the employer dashboard, which delivers insight into the health, wellbeing and safety of the workforce in aggregate. Therefore, it is not going to be one specific person’s information, because that would violate privacy and the law, but in aggregate, how people are doing in the workforce. Those are the two parts of what we are delivering at a high level.
CEOCFO: Have companies recognized that there has been something they can do or are they just waking up to it now with COVID? Do companies know to look for a solution or even think there is one?
Mr. Menell: From what we have seen, people are more than ready for solutions that are not based in health insurance and because of this time of COVID, the ability to figure out and assess people’s health is at the forefront now. There are not many solutions like this out there and any time you talk to anyone about the health of their work family the question of insurance always comes up, too. That is the only thing that they have at their disposal.
For many businesses that we work with, their foundational workers are part time, they do not even qualify for insurance and when they do qualify, the employer pays maybe half of the monthly premium and the other half is still a big number that they cannot afford anyway. However, there are not many companies like us out there.
It is a new category in terms of a solution. We are combining many traditional and known things, but we are packaging it and the experience is completely focused on that foundational workforce and what they need to be healthy to get to work and earn money. Nobody has seen an experience like what we are trying to provide for that workforce.
CEOCFO: How do you know what workers need?
Mr. Menell: We have asked many people. My father grew up working on the race track and my cofounder’s family operated a small plumbing business, so you could say we come from working class stock. However, we also did many customer development interviews with people who employ foundational workers and then the workers themselves, to find out what things are lacking, what they do not have, what they would like, what do they need.
Many times, they do not even know what they do not know, so we have to ask them, “What if we could do this for you, would that be beneficial,” and the light bulb comes on; “Oh! I did not even know that was possible! That is amazing!” A little bit of it comes from our family backgrounds, but the rest; we directly asked people to make sure that we are developing features and functions and capabilities that people find useful.
CEOCFO: What did you learn when you were researching that may have surprised you?
Mr. Menell: Two things. One, when we were building these tools, our first notion was that we were building them for people that were like us, that sat behind a desk every day. As we worked on it more and more, we figured out that there was this whole, huge, massive part of the workforce that was not being serviced and supported at all. Therefore, this foundational workforce, those “non desk” workers, that was one huge aha that came about!
Once we got into that, the second one was the sheer number of people amongst this workforce that do not speak any English at all, and so we had a pretty major development effort to make our app multi lingual, to support people that were even further disenfranchised from health and wellbeing solutions and offerings, because they spoke no English at all.
CEOCFO: Are your solutions being deployed today? Are you still in development? Where do you stand at Verimos?
Mr. Menell: Right now, we have pivoted a few times and our current offering is launching next week. We will be deployed at a handful of customers that we have pre-
Once we have absorbed those customers and get some feedback from them on what they like maybe fine tune a few things if necessary, then we are looking at taking it to a larger market and audience. Then we also have a pretty vast roadmap of new features that we have heard from people in the process of talking with potential customers, that they would like once we have shown them the framework. They have told us things that they would like; things that are not obvious.
We are trying to add benefits around road side assistance. I would never have thought that was important. However, people tell us things like, “Man, my car is older and there are times when I need to jump the battery to get in to work,” or “I have a flat tire, I do not know how to change a tire,” or “I ran out of gas unexpectedly because my gas gauge does not work.” I would never have thought about this, but once you talk to these people they say, “If my car needs a jump and I cannot get in to work, I do not make money that day, but I do not even know who to call. I do not have a new car where I can call Mercedes road side assistance and someone comes up with a brand-
CEOCFO: What is involved in an implemtation? How would a company get started with you?
Mr. Menell: We make it as simple as possible. They give us their first name and the last name, their email address and their phone number and we do the rest. We send them everything they need to download our app, onboard and get them all the benefits. We make it extremely simple. There is not an enrollment window, there are no prerequisites, or you do not need to have a social security number or a green card or whatever. However, you do need a mobile device to be able to access all the features, modules and benefits that we provide. We try to make it as simple as possible.
CEOCFO: You have the pricing on your site. How have you decided where to start with pricing? What went into figuring out what would work in the market?
Mr. Menell: Our guiding principal was just to make it as inexpensive as possible, so we could get it out to as many people as possible. That requires work from us to go find and build the features and benefits that are out there, to find the providers that can provide things on our roadmap, like a road side assistance or like telemedicine, to use bulk purchasing to get the pricing as low as possible, to enable the experience and technology so it is just one touch go get something done. You do not have three ring binders and membership cards to carry and other friction. Therefore, we are working to make that as easy and convenient as possible for people.
CEOCFO: What is your trademark “Well for Work™?”
Mr. Menell: Well for Work™ is a module in our applications and it is a series that features that help to assess your work family. It can figure out if you are well for work today. It is especially important under COVID to understand that someone does not have symptoms, has not been around someone with COVID, but beyond that, we want to know even if you are not well for work today. “I am sick; I threw out my back,” or whatever happened, to understand and assess that.
Then we can point them towards the resources that can get them back to work, whether it is telemedicine, whether it is chiropractic, whether it is just rest, or a prescription. That is in the assessment phase, to confirm personally that you are well for work and then if you are not, how to get you back there.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your recent funding and how far that will take you?
Mr. Menell: We closed our first tranche of friends and family round of investment and it is really a great group of people; executives, industry experts; a bunch of folks that are really committed to backing us and to helping out that class of worker, those foundational workers.
We do believe that in order to grow and realize our full potential, that we will most likely need some institutional capital as well, down the road. Therefore, we are using this round of money to take the product to market, deploy to first customers and to understand more about the value we provide. Then we will add capital to scale that, so we will do better in all of our operational metrics as we learn more, and then apply capital to scale it up.
CEOCFO: There are so many potential clients for you. How will you decide how to reach out and where to reach out? Where do you anticipate the most attention -
Mr. Menell: We look for industries where these foundational workers are employed. These types of companies include manufacturing, construction, trucking and transportation, restaurants, hotels and the gig economy, deliver drivers and municipalities. Most teachers have a desk in their classroom, but they really are not deskbound. Healthcare professionals; they are constantly on the move while working with patients, performing x-
Then we are tuned to the solution for the small to medium sized business. We count that as an employee count of between one hundred and eight hundred employees. That is our target. When we think of a new feature, a new function, a new benefit, something that we are going to build, our guiding principal is, “Does it help that foundational worker in those industries and that business size.
CEOCFO: Do you see a trend of more bundling of services in the way that you are doing it?
Mr. Menell: We definitely like the bundles, because it just makes decisions easier. We find the most used group of features and put them all in one thing, so we can deliver the best price for that bundle of features. Make decision making easy, make it easy to buy. If you think about it, many things in our lives are bundled together to make things simpler.
We have three tiers in our pricing program to make it easy. This allows people to look for something specific, but we have lots of things. Some things might resonate more with them than other things; they can find that in that tier and know where it is or also in their head. They might know, “This is how much I can spend, so here is the bundle that the budget that I have fits and let us do that.” Therefore, I think the bundling serves many purposes. Then, our goal over time is to put as many features and benefits in each tier and bundle as possible and keep the price the same or as low as possible.
CEOCFO: What is the takeaway? What should people remember most about Verimos and what might people miss when they first take a look?
Mr. Menell: I think the important takeaway here is that this recession of 2020 is hurting this class of the workforce the hardest. They are the first to be laid-
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“In this time where business resilience is being challenged, we help the small to medium sized business owners to support the health, wellbeing and safety of what we call the foundational workforce.” Bryan Menell