Carolyn McMaster | August 26, 2014
When Justin Roberts and Brian Hassan founded San Francisco–based BayPoint Benefits in 2008, they were just “a couple of sales guys with the belief we could change the insurance business,” says Roberts.
“We wanted to be the first benefits firm to run a completely paperless business. We saw our industry as being one of the most outdated and archaic in its ways of doing business—starting with paper, just filing cabinets upon filing cabinets full.”
Today, BayPoint Benefits is a full-service firm that manages employee benefit programs—health insurance, retirement plans and HR programs—as well as commercial risk insurance for companies that range from small businesses with a few employees to Fortune 500 enterprises. At the company’s core are a dedication to customer service and a proprietary cloud-based technology platform that makes the work paperless.
Being the change
While there were elements of environmental and social responsibility in their company vision from the outset, Roberts says they “fell backwards” into adopting sustainability as a core value. They realized that if they really wanted to change the benefits business, they would need to lead by example in how they ran their company, treated employees and supported the community.
To demonstrate their commitment—and hold themselves accountable—they got green business certifications from San Francisco, the Bay Area and Green America. But it’s their B Corp certification, earned in 2009, that means the most to the firm.
“That’s what we aspired to be—and it allows us to build a brand that’s bigger and more accountable,” says Roberts. Not only do they consider their B Corp certification to be the most prestigious of the lot, it also gives them the right language for talking about shared values with staff. “Brian and I didn’t have to figure out how to share our commitment to the environment and doing right.”
One unforeseen benefit of becoming a B Corp was how the process illuminated ways to improve business operations that they hadn’t thought about before. “We were surprised at the level of detail needed to obtain the certification,” says Roberts. “We were humbled by the experience, and it helped us reconfigure the way we looked at the company. Why are we doing this? What are our mission and values? You have to know it. You can’t BS your way through it.”
Another pleasant surprise: the meaningful relationships they have developed with other B Corps. “We underestimated the power of the B Corp community—it’s very inspiring and powerful,” he says. “We thought we had community and a sense of belonging with other organizations, but B Corps really do care about each other.”
Today, the company is growing fast, with 20 employees and 500 clients—including B Lab and many B Corporations. And they strive to work with B Corps as vendors.
Roberts says BayPoint’s mission of using technology to provide a better employee experience with healthcare and to operate as a sustainable business resonates far beyond the sustainable business community, especially now that the B Corp brand is becoming more widely known. It also opens up conversations with clients and potential clients.
“It lets me ask questions about their organizations that I might not otherwise,” he says. “And the consumer knows we’re doing more in the world; it gives them more meaningful connections to healthcare. After all, we’re part of that broken system, but they know we’re trying to advocate for [a better system].
“And, at the end of the day, most people really do want a better world and a business that is meaningful.”