Grow by integrating into other products

SafetyWing grew 7,000%+ by integrating with partners through an API.

Publish Date
Jun 9, 2022
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What does the company do?

Remote Health by SafetyWing is the first global health insurance built for remote teams. A distributed company can have their entire team on one insurance plan, no matter where in the world they live or travel to. Remote Health is the second product from SafetyWing – the company on a mission to build a global social safety net.

👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 Target Audiences

While the product is targeted at Remote Companies, the targets of the growth channel are:
  • Employers of Record companies (platforms where companies can hire and pay their employees)
  • Freelance sites like UpWork
  • HR benefit platforms
  • Relocation platforms
And anything that would reach remote companies with remote teams underneath them.

📝 Briefly describe the growth project

People who purchase Remote Health insurance using partner sites sign up directly through the partner’s site. This gives the ability to get a discounted group plan rate through the platform (also for individual policies!). What does that mean? For one, people get cheaper insurance prices by signing up through services they already use. Secondly, it allows for a freelance model where contractors can open their own plan with benefits usually reserved for group plans, like having medical history disregarded.
There are two different plan models used for this channel:
  1. Community plan - someone like the employer of record companies mentioned above open one plan and companies underneath them onboard onto that one plan. It reaches dozens of companies and hundreds members under one policy. You don’t have to go through the SafetyWing site because they aren’t opening their own policy. The EOR or benefit company picks the plan and builds it into sign up process. When members are onboarded, they get unique information about their plan and policy.
  1. Affinity plan - contractors on platforms like UpWork open their own policies as individual ones, but get group benefits. On the “front-end” there is an option to add insurance as an add on. From here, users move onto SafetyWing’s website to open their policy (it’s not white-labled). They are getting a special offer because of going through the platform.
    1. → Note: this model is not fully validated yet
Employer of Record companies blew up during the pandemic as companies went remote. There was a need for someone to manage global hiring and logistics. Remote Health is also global and adds an entirely new value to partner products. This made it super easy to get buy-in from companies – they simply added pricing and disregarded medical history. It also could be easily built into sign up flow. They loved the simplicity of it because it fit well into their product.

📈 How has it gone so far for ?

API platform sales has turned into the biggest growth channel for SafetyWing’s Remote Health product. Since January, the channel has seen over a 7,000% increase in revenue generation, selling thousands of policies and growing 15-20% each month!
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😍 Why are platform partnerships a great growth tactic?

  1. Tap directly into someone’s existing customer base who is, by definition, willing to pay for a similar product.
  1. The partner company is essentially recommending your product to their own customer base by offering it.
  1. Everyone wins! You get new customers, the platform improves their offering and customers get a unique offering/discount.
  1. Highly scalable. You can add new platform partners, as well as scale up with your existing ones.

🤔 Downsides to using platform partnerships

  1. Each partnership is unique, meaning developing each one can be manual and require customizations.
  1. The lead times for onboarding partners is extremely long.
  1. The jump from MVP to “polished” channel requires a huge leap in devoted resources.
  1. You’ll need to offer something genuinely beneficial to partners.

🏗 How to build your own

Step 1 - Figure out what companies are already serving your market

Start brainstorming potential partners that go well with your own product offering. When you come up with a specific partner, note the category and use it to replicate more potential partners. You’ll want to aim for 100 to start with.
Let’s say you are developing a fitness tracking hardware device. Try partnering with gyms or nutrition sites that potential customers will also be inherently interested in.

Step 2 - validate the model

Validate means speaking with the companies to see if it will work for them, what price they are willing to pay, etc. From here, you’ll need to develop a custom model that companies will actually implement. This part is important, don’t settle for soft commitments.
It will involve a lot of cold email outreach, which is its own difficult channel to master. Consider hiring a VA to research the companies you’ll be reaching out to, so that the pitches are super customized. Just remember, you are there to improve their growth as well.

Step 3 - onboard first few partners with manual systems

Once you have some partners tee’d up, you’ll likely need some documentation to implement the partnership. This might be google docs/sheets and Zapier integrations at first. Don’t worry if it’s scrappy. Tell the partners it’s a temporary solution while you build out something more complex (which is true!).
What exactly you’ll need will depend on your product. For Remote Health insurance, they fill out a form to open a policy, upload business information to it, then reach out to companies underneath their platform to gather the information into a spreadsheet so SafetyWing could manually add every member. They did in fact onboard 10 companies with this manual process. When they had to add/remove members they would go to the spreadsheet and update so we could. No dashboard, no policy docs.

Step 4 - Hire and scale the system

After they realized it was a valid channel, Megan hired someone to lead the technical product side and expand the system so that it wouldn’t be manual. This involved both creating policy docs and making everything look more official. This was a large investment that took a lot of validation. The team is still in the process of moving to better dashboard formats.
So far they have scaled the team to have a Head of Product and Head of Sales. They’ve found that platforms are interested and closing, but need a lot of follow ups because the platform has to sell on their behalf. That’s why they’re creating an account management team.

💡 Advice for someone trying to build something similar?

  1. Be flexible and learn.
    1. Originally they were offering an incentive (commission) to platforms so that they’d earn a percentage of every member which was added. The team ended up completely removing this because it was an afterthought value add. Platforms just wanted to differentiate themselves, not an extra way to earn. They wanted black and white clarity. Having the plan as a differentiator (and super in demand at the time) was key.
  1. Do the conversations before you’re ready.
    1. You’ll feel too scrappy to actually onboard someone. Embrace this! These early conversations will tell you where to go. Don’t pretend you know and invest into something that won’t work.
  1. Plan for long lead times.
    1. This was the team’s biggest challenge. Even when partners agree and are excited, it takes a lot of work to move them along in a scrappy state. Many are just now closing now that systems are more polished because they didn’t have capacity.

You can follow along with Megan on LinkedIn and YouTube!

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