Tech startup allows employees to 'shop' for benefits online

By Michelle Ong, ANC

Posted at Aug 21 2015 04:15 PM | Updated as of Aug 22 2015 12:15 AM

MANILA - Marketplace from a one-size fits all benefits package to a plan that is customized to fit an individual's unique needs and interests.

That's the goal of Storm Benefits, a tech startup that has created a digital marketplace where employees can "shop" for their benefits.

"Typically you have leaves, insurance, different allowances. What the individual does, is he can choose to convert it to currency and that currency, we call it 'flex points,' can be used to purchase benefits of his choice inside our online flexible benefit marketplace," Storm Benefits founder and chief executive Peter Paul Cauton said.

The online marketplace offers 3,000 different products, ranging from gadgets, insurance add-ons, travel packages, health and wellness services, to fashion items.

Cauton said not only are they able to give employees the power of choice, the technology also allows them to collect and interpret the buying habits and lifestyle choices of Filipinos.

"It's very interesting. For example, we see the flexben being used by different generations inside firms very differently. We know that millenials would choose differently from gen-Xers and from boomers," Cauton said.

"Travel and gadgets stuff are what millenials would consume very handily. Stuff for the house like furniture and appliances are purchased by gen-Xers in voluminous levels," he added.

Cauton sees infinite possibilities for the platform. He said the data they are able to collect from the way their clients use the marketplace can also help them come up with unique services.

"For example in BGC, we notice that every 5 p.m. there's an EDSA revolution happening there. People would walk from BGC to EDSA, because they can't commute. We have thousands of employees on flexben in BGC, so what we did is we mapped out the addresses and saw where the concentration of houses across our clients were. What we did was, we thought, 'Hey, why don't we rent a van, we create a route, and let's see if your near, the system would alert you, 'Hey, there's a van that can take you from your house to the office," said Cauton.

So what's the business model? What the company does is offer the use of the marketplace for free.

It earns from the supplier side, getting the products in bulk, and with big discounts.

The company started in 2013 with a base of just 5,000 client employees. Today, it handles over 40,000 clients with a target of more than doubling that by the first quarter of next year. That's not counting contributions from its newest office in Indonesia, where it sees a big potential.

"Population-wise, market-wise, we salivate at the thought of serving market that's 3-4 times as large. Here in the Philippines, the peculiarity of benefits system is that we're the only Southeast Asian country where we have a rule called non-domination law," he said.

Also in its sights are Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand.