IL Tech in NY
“The best talent in the health and wellness industry is in and around New York”
In collaboration with Israeli Mapped in NY, Insurights has joined CTech to discuss its jump to the US to help fix its healthcare system
Insurights is helping solve a problem unique to Americans in that it tackles the complicated healthcare system not experienced by Israelis at home. Expanding operations to the US means that feet need to be on the ground from those who have lived it first-hand. “Additionally, the New York startup ecosystem is thriving, especially the Israeli one, being part of a community was very important to me,” he added.
Company name: Insurights
Field of activity/product: Employees’ health and wellness.
Founders: Guy Benjamin, Elad Ofir, Ben Goldenberg, and Ben Nagar.
Year of founding/start of New York operations: Founded and started operations in 2021
Number of employees and whether the company is active in other locations: 35 employees, 15 in Israel, 20 in the US
Sum of total funding to date/funding rounds completed: Seed round, $24M
Names of investors/VC backers: Group 11, Good Company, Insurtech Israel, Cresson
General background on the founders/senior managers:
After a 12 year career with the Israeli Air Force, I came to the US to get my MBA at Yale. Upon graduation, I joined McKinsey & Co. in their New York office and was there for seven years. We started the company in early 2021, opening offices in Tel Aviv and NY.
Background on the product/service/platform/solution:
No one ever defines the US healthcare system as simple, accessible, and easy to navigate. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Employers spend $1.6 trillion a year on employees’ health, which is a whopping $10,000 a year per employee. On the other hand, 70% of employees say they don’t know what they are covered for and 60% of employees delay or avoid treatment because they are not sure if they are covered for it. Today, the only option for employees is to call the call center or try to read and fully understand their health plan – a 650-page document that changes every year. This is unacceptable.
- “Imagine Wall Street meets Silicon Valley all under one rooftop – that’s New York”
- Siemplify: “The U.S. market is the holy grail for Israeli tech startups”
- “Israeli companies know that to be successful they must have a U.S presence”
Insurights helps employees navigate, understand, and utilize their health benefits – we developed Zoe, the first-ever virtual Chief Health Officer that answers an employee’s questions about their health benefits, helps them find in-network providers, understand costs, learn about preventive care benefits, and manage their own and their families health and wellbeing. Zoe also proactively reaches out to employees with specific preventive care benefits they should be aware of, including yearly physical tests, mammograms, etc. The technology behind Zoe knows how to analyze ANY health plan and provides a digital door for employees to interact with their health benefits, eliminating the need for call centers, improving employees' satisfaction, and saving significant time for employees and HR leaders.
Why New York? What advantages does it offer? How does the market differ from Israel? How does the competition differ?
As a company with an R&D center in Israel, we wanted to open our US headquarters on the East Coast. When looking at the talent pools, we noticed that the best talent in the health and wellness industry is in and around New York. Additionally, the New York startup ecosystem is thriving, especially the Israeli one, being part of a community was very important to me.
Two things you learned about the US market from operating in New York:
I have learned a lot about the cross-cultural differences between New York and Israel, and how important it is to cultivate a supportive culture within a multi-location company. Not only are we building in-person relationships, but we are creating and strengthening the connection across the ocean. We hired approximately 30 people in the last five months, across both locations, and building that cohesive team is one of our top priorities.
I have also learned the importance of sharing different perspectives. Our Israeli team has not experienced the problem we’re trying to fix, and is also not constrained by the limitations of the US healthcare system. When faced with roadblocks or challenges unique to the US healthcare system, this multicultural perspective helps us tremendously. Sharing a fresh perspective is one of our strengths, and building off these strengths of both the American and the Israeli teams is crucial in achieving results.
Two things you learned about American investors as a result of starting operations there:
I learned that working with an American investor is a two-way street – not only are you finding an investor that is willing to give you capital, but you are finding an investor whose capital you would like to have. We have been incredibly fortunate to work with amazing investors, from both Israeli and American VCs, who I consider true thought partners and executioners. For me, my investors are a resource that I use regularly; they help me with sales, product, talent, and more. I am grateful to have found these investors, but it was not sheer luck: we specifically chose our investors based on personal fit, mutual understanding, and the joint mission. I honestly could not ask for better investors than the ones I work with today.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what to do in New York:
- Use your community. Take the time to reach out to other New York-based Israeli founders and take the time to connect with them. Personally, I search for two or three founders that are two to three steps ahead of me and learn from their success.
- Leverage the fact that everyone is in one central location – your investors, your potential customers, your potential partners, etc. Go meet them! Get out there, be heard, go to events, and leverage what many other founders in other places in the world do not have: access to people.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what not to do in New York:
- Don’t get too hung up on finding talent in the city. New York is accessible, so be open to finding talent outside of the city. Otherwise, you may be missing out on some great people.
- Location is important. Decide on a cool location and nice space for the office, which will help bring in and retain employees. Focus on your mission and rally people around it.
How much did the Covid pandemic impact your work?
Covid helped us understand that we can work remotely and still be productive, sometimes even more so than in-person, but we still long for human interactions. We are currently functioning with a hybrid work model: working from the office for two or three days and working from home for the rest of the week. When we are in the office, we cherish opportunities to co-locate by eating meals together, going to happy hours, and getting to know each other face-to-face. Additionally, we were reminded of the need to stay nimble and flexible. We opened our office in September and then had to re-close in December, at a day's notice. While we hope to reopen soon, we need to always be prepared to be productive and collaborative either in the office, together, or at home, virtually together.
What are the differences when it comes to recruiting employees?
The greatest advantage in recruiting employees is the quality of candidates and the number of options in New York. So far, we have recruited tremendous talent here. Also, New York City is a melting pot, which means a more diverse pool of talent. Diversity is a key success factor for companies, and I strive to recruit as many different profiles as I can. One disadvantage is the high cost of living; we counter this by investing in our New York employees so they can live close by.
What are some of the workplace culture differences between Israel and New York?
The most notable workplace culture difference is the Israeli mentality, which is more straightforward and gets straight to the point. However, that sometimes does not come across well. It is imperative to invest time into explaining these differences and learning effective communication strategies, and even more importantly, how these differences can play into our strengths.
The IL Tech in NY project is a collaboration between CTech and Israeli Mapped in NY. For more information email Guy Franklin via this link.