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Lime Global is disrupting the health insurance market by making private medical cover affordable for everyone. It provides top-ups to public healthcare where people can pick and choose what they need and when they need it. Lime is at the forefront of a brand new digital health tech ecosystem, bringing healthcare to the many, in a way that’s customer-centric and simple.
We sat down with Lime’s founder, Shaun Williams, to get the story so far.
Hello Shaun, what were you doing prior to founding this business and what inspired you to take the entrepreneurship route?
Shaun: I joined the insurance and financial services industry back in 1987 and over the course of my career I’ve worked for some of the biggest insurance companies in the world. As well as learning a huge amount and making useful contacts, I’ve had a long time to see first-hand what’s right and what’s wrong with the current industry.
I also had the opportunity to see what huge potential for social good the industry can offer, if harnessed in the right way. That’s where Lime came from. Tackling the dysfunctional aspects of the current industry while also making a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives.
Health insurance is usually bundled together in a package and sold via 3rd party advisers. They say that insurance is sold not bought and that’s definitely the case here, it’s surprisingly rare for a product to be developed based on customer needs and wants. It’s expensive and complicated. There isn’t much choice about which benefits or health services people actually need and want.
I wanted to turn it on its head. Put customers first – what do people really need? Where are the gaps in the health services they have access to? What keeps them awake at night and how can we help? It was really important to me that our products are very affordable and accessible. Everyone deserves to have control over their health, peace of mind and a safety net. That’s what Lime is all about.
The last year has put the need for healthcare into sharp focus. How is Lime Global providing the infrastructure for a post-Covid future?
Shaun: Covid hasn’t changed our trajectory, but it has brought the importance of putting our customers’ needs first into even sharper focus and this has helped shape our product pipeline.
Product design is key. We know that we can provide the products and services that will make a real difference to people’s lives at a really affordable price.
So, in terms of infrastructure, we’ve designed and built a brand-new model that makes it possible for us to develop and bring more fully digitised, customer-centric health cover and health services products to market. We will be well placed to meet people’s healthcare needs as they continue to evolve.
Digitisation has taken over the healthcare industry lately, how does Lime Global provide a seamless, digital UX?
Shaun: We might be a digital company, but we still put people first. We pride ourselves on our user experience and customer service (and it’s paying off – check out our Trustpilot reviews).
So, how do we do it? Well, it’s a combination really. On the one hand, we built our tech stack from scratch, ourselves, in house. We only work with really high-quality suppliers and partners that we spend a long time integrating. On the other hand, and most importantly, we never forget that we are dealing with real people, their health, their wellbeing and that of their families. So, it’s the combined impact of the product, the UX and affordability that makes the journey so seamless.
What makes Lime Global a better choice compared to other competitors in the market?
Shaun: As far as we know, we don’t have any direct competitors. Of course, there are plenty of others in the industry who are trying to digitise, but they have legacy architecture to overcome and, more often than not, they try to retrofit digitised products into their existing estate which is time consuming and costly. Lime has none of those headaches (thankfully).
At face value we might look the same but under the bonnet we are totally different. Lime is more than just a pretty face! We are fully independent, regulated end-to-end and we have designed and created products with a fully digital / automated offering. That means our entire customer journey is digitised, including claim and renewal. In a digital world it can be hard to emphasize to others outside the industry just how different this is – but we believe that we are the only ones in the market able to do this.
We co-manufacture products with leading suppliers because we believe that product design needs to come first – because we put our customers first! We aim to deliver what people actually need and want, not just what we want to sell.
How have you designed your business model to be scalable, and what do you anticipate the revenue split to be as you grow?
Shaun: Lime is innately scalable. 100% digital and fully automated, we have built our tech stack entirely in-house and we own all the IP (apart from a couple of specialist services for payment collection, anti-fraud etc.). In terms of advantages, having our own proprietary tech is the secret to our success.
In our industry you can’t develop a product without all the necessary regulatory and industry licenses and only then can you go about convincing the insurers to back a revolutionary new product – that all takes a lot of time. We had to spend time doing that and then when we had our first product we built every single element of the process from scratch (from application to sales, to administration to claims) to ensure it is fully digital and automated. This means the sky is the limit when it comes to scalability. It has taken literally years to get the right system in place to fully automate and digitise every step.
We expect 15% of revenues to come from direct B2C online sales, which is already accelerating and 85% to come from B2B where an instance of Lime is embedded at 3rd party providers, enabling Lime to acquire large blocks of customers more quickly.
What has growth looked like to date for the business?
Shaun: Our focus to date has been on building and testing our systems and business model in a development stage and doing our best to stay under the radar till now. The technology required to bring these products to market and make them entirely digitally available is very complex (there is nothing else quite like us out there) so we have intentionally spent time under the radar getting it right.
We have been in market and growing – we’re about to launch our third product but this hasn’t been our focus to date and therefore is not a measure of our success so far.
Additionally, it’s been a very strange time over the last 12 months (certainly not a great time to launch new products and services into the market) – but we have not stopped! We have used this time to continue to work hard and we have evolved at pace to meet the demands of the new reality we find ourselves operating in. Now as the UK (hopefully) starts to return to “normal” we are ready to move out of our development phase and into the broader market. We’ve built our rocket ship, it’s time to add the fuel!
That’s not to say that we have stopped innovating – we have a robust pipeline of new products and services each carefully designed to meet a specific consumer need and we will be bringing them online to market at speed over the next 12 months. We are now in a position to spread our wings and take our products to the market at scale which is where the funding via Seedrs will come in.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
Shaun: The next few months will be a very exciting time for Lime. We will be launching our third product, which is a mental health product, within the next few weeks and hot on the heels of that we have 4 and 5 in the pipeline, ready for us to switch on. With the investment from Seedrs we will be able to accelerate that product development as well as the marketing and distribution of the products already in market. I can’t wait.
What does your path to profitability look like?
Shaun: You’ll see in our pitch materials we reference research which shows that people are willing to purchase health cover and similar services when there is a real need and the price is right. That’s something the traditional industry has struggled with – only 11% of the population have any form of private health cover. We think we’ve hit that sweet spot between need and price and our own market research backs that up. We are highly confident, as are our marketing partners.
We have spent a very long time getting this absolutely right. What we are doing is hugely innovative and, as far as we know, there is nothing else like Lime out there. This is a brand new model for this industry, bringing new and much-needed products which are entirely digitally available.
Furthermore, we believe we’ve nailed the (often elusive) ability to cross and upsell other insurance products and services. The good news is that we are a long way ahead and now our focus will be on running fast and adding new products quickly thereafter. And, of course, scale will be crucial. To that end we have some exciting partnerships in the pipeline. I can’t announce anything yet but the future is definitely looking very bright.
A few personal ones:
When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Shaun: Much like everyone else – I like spending time with my family and friends and (a typical Aussie) I like getting everyone over and having a BBQ in the sunshine (when we finally get some). I’m a keen gardener too so that’s often where you can find me on a Sunday afternoon – there hasn’t been opportunity to do much more thanks to COVID!
What’s the easiest thing people can do to stay on top of their health?
Shaun: I reckon most people know the basics and I’m certainly not one to preach. That’s the thing about Lime, it’s about putting people in control of their own health, not lecturing to them. Everything in moderation is what I’d say!
What would your advice be to aspiring entrepreneurs in the healthtech space?
Shaun: Don’t try this at home kids! Oh and buy some hair dye – I used to be blonde but I’m completely grey now!
But seriously, I would say that it’s been quite a long, hard road, harder than you think it will be! I could have taken some short cuts along the way but we took the time to do everything properly, and I’m glad that we’ve done that. Lime is inherently disruptive which has made it even more difficult – we’re swimming against the current here!
But if you truly believe in what you’re doing then go for it and don’t give up! As the old adage says, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Ask the questions, get advice, trust your gut and be willing to put in the work! If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Lime Global is open for investment! Visit the pitch to find out more.