This article was originally published on Voyage Chicago. Click here to view the original.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Perrott. Richard, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was 17 years old I told myself that I would start my own business someday. I didn’t exactly know when, how or what it would be, but the ambition ran pretty deep. I always felt confident that “someday” didn’t mean “never”.
Then life happened.
I took a sales job at an employee benefit insurer right out of college. I had a knack for it, worked for a great company, and stayed with them for nine years!
Insurance is aggressively uncool, but it’s more important and interesting than people give it credit for. Once you study it you see that it’s a combination of math, law, business, and human behavior all wrapped into one. And in the end, the actual purpose it serves helps real people. That’s pretty cool after all.
After almost a decade of learning the ropes, I could see the human side of the business. I experienced the indirect pain when things didn’t work as planned too. The claim denials, mis-payments, and administrative errors impacted real people. And as a sales rep, the problems had a way of landing on my desk. I’d work long hours putting out fires I didn’t start but felt a responsibility to resolve. It was hard.
At the same time, my co-founders and I could see the shift towards software being used to connect people, information, and systems in nearly every industry on the planet except for ours. We knew there was an opportunity to improve the employee benefits space too.
With the desire to start my own business still gnawing at me I took the leap. And the lifelong internal dialogue of “someday” became “now”.
Has it been a smooth road?
Of course, there have been challenges, but we try to make a conscious effort not to dwell on them. Instead of reliving what’s gone wrong we focus on what we do have and what we can do.
We basically feel that most “struggles” are simply caused by constraints, and constraints are a good thing if you embrace them. This isn’t Tony Robbins-speak, it’s practical. We’ve found that our work product is better when we have parameters, time, or resource constraints to contend with. We do our best to identify our constraints to help us prioritize and see solutions more clearly. We even shared our thoughts on this in a post here.
Ultimately, if we push ourselves then it should feel like a bit of a struggle. If we don’t feel it, then we should check ourselves.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the WatchTower story. Tell us more about the business.
95% of the employed U.S. population receives their insurance through their employer.
What most people don’t realize is how labor intensive the procurement process is for their employer, insurance broker, and the insurance companies that provide it. It’s countless hours of data collection, review, and data entry, especially in the mid-to-large market. The underwriting and distribution process is incredibly manual and error-prone, and those costs get baked right into the insurance premiums you pay. That’s no bueno.
WatchTower’s mission is to bring the employee benefits insurance distribution process into the 21st century. We provide cloud-based software that takes the messy, complicated deal flow and simplifies it down to a few steps.
A key reason the status quo is so manual is that the tools haven’t changed since Microsoft Excel became mainstream in the ’90s. We believe the process doesn’t have to feel like 1995. By replacing outdated tools with modern technology we can make a difference for the industry and the real people that depend on it.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc
In 10 years it likely will be a standard operating procedure for an individual to actively comparison shop their non-emergent medical services before they have them performed.