STEPHEN DEKUYPER – CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF BENIPLUS INC.
I am a Co-Founder and President of BeniPlus Inc., which provides simple, flexible, and affordable group benefits to small businesses throughout Canada. Small businesses account for 98% of the companies in Canada and employ almost 70% of the labor force. They are also responsible for much of the creativity that occurs in the marketplace and I love them for that. As a small business owner myself and having worked with a number of small businesses, I know the challenges we face. My focus is on making it easier for small businesses to take care of their employees by offering them the benefits they need at a cost the company can afford. Before BeniPlus, I spent a couple of years in the individual health insurance market in Canada, serving clients throughout the country with one of the most successful brokerages in the sector.
Prior to my time in the insurance industry, I spent 20 years in the commercial real estate industry with stints in Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. I spent 17 years in China helping small and medium-sized companies set up, relocate or expand offices, manufacturing operations, and R&D centers. For the last five years of my time there, I ran my own commercial real estate brokerage firm affiliated with the largest tenant-representation-only firm in the United States.
1. What was the inspiration behind the founding of BeniPlus Inc.? What are you hoping to accomplish through it?
My partners and I founded BeniPlus because we believe in small businesses. We have spent decades in the insurance industry and saw that small businesses were underserved in the area of group benefits. It’s can be difficult and costly for them to provide benefits to their employees. And this lack of benefits makes it more difficult for small businesses to attract employees and to take care of them once they’re on the team. We believe there’s a great opportunity to marry technology and a unique and innovative product to provide simple, flexible, and affordable benefits that employees want and employers can afford.
2. In your expert opinion, what is the biggest challenge that SME owners face and how can BeniPlus help them overcome these challenges?
Entrepreneurs face many obstacles when starting and growing their business so it’s difficult to limit the challenge to just one. But the biggest one is getting and keeping the right people. As important as products and funding are for a company’s success, neither of these is much help without the right people to make it happen. Small businesses often find it difficult to attract and keep people because they’re competing with big companies for top talent, especially in a competitive landscape. The BeniPlus Benefit Wallet makes it easier for companies to provide the benefits that employees want while allowing employers to set an affordable benefits budget. Small businesses want to offer benefits to attract top people, but they worry about keeping up with rising benefits costs. At BeniPlus, we remove the risk of unknown rate increases by allowing small business owners to set their annual benefits budget. We give employers the option to offer benefits for as little as $100 to $200 dollars per employee per month.
3. COVID-19 has forced many business owners to close their doors temporarily which has caused many challenges for them. What are some of the solutions that BeniPlus can offer to small business owners during these uncertain times?
We know how difficult it is for small businesses at this time. Many of them have invested in group benefits plans they simply cannot afford, and the current situation is making them brutally aware of that fact. Our product is an ideal solution for companies who want to provide for their employees but simply cannot afford to do so with a traditional group benefits plan. Our plan lets companies set the budget they can afford, while still providing helpful benefits for their employees. It’s an opportune time for businesses to reassess their costs and to implement programs that are more suited to their situation. When it’s time to renew an existing benefits plan, we recommend that small business owners look at their options before renewing for another year of costly (and perhaps unaffordable) benefits.
4. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs who are currently struggling due to COVID-19?
It’s difficult enough for small businesses to succeed with the everyday obstacles and constraints we already face. Throw in a pandemic that has shuttered doors and forced layoffs and we’re left with a unique set of circumstances that threaten our very existence. The first thing we all need to do is to figure out how to survive. Most companies are going to need to cut costs, while still trying our best to take care of our people. It is an opportunity for owners to take quick wins and cut unnecessary overhead costs. A deeper dive may also lead us to reassess our cost structure and perhaps even to refocus our business in light of what might become a new marketplace paradigm.
5. On a final note, what are some of the future projects that Beniplus has planned within the next few years? Where do you see the company heading 5 years from now?
We’re currently in the last stages of developing our own app that will allow us to offer a unique group benefits plan and platform, unparalleled in the market. We want it to become the go-to resource center for our small business clients, where they can find simple, flexible, and affordable solutions related to all of their benefits needs. We hope to introduce our initial app in June, which we will continue to develop thereafter.