Jason T. Andrew had never been to Des Moines — until he was invited four years ago to participate in the inaugural Global Insurance Symposium. 

Andrew’s company, Limelight Health, had won first place in a startup competition in Silicon Valley. Among the judges in that competition were Brian Hemesath, then director of the Global Insurance Accelerator, and Gregory Bailey, CEO of Denim Labs in Des Moines. Hemesath subsequently invited Andrew to Des Moines to participate in the symposium. Andrew, co-founder and CEO of Limelight Health, has returned to Des Moines for the symposium each year since. 

Shortly after this year’s Global Insurance Symposium in April, Limelight decided to build a presence in Des Moines with a third office space. It also has offices in San Francisco and Redding, Calif. The rapidly growing insurtech company has developed a software platform that streamlines the process of carriers getting health insurance quotes out to brokers and other distribution partners. 

Although about two-thirds of Limelight’s 105-person staff works remotely from home, having a nexus in Des Moines is an important strategic move for the company in attracting talent with experience in the insurance industry, says Andrew. The company held a networking event earlier this year as an initial recruiting effort, and currently has a staff of six working at the Gravitate coworking space downtown. 

I interviewed Andrew about Limelight’s plans for Des Moines while he was here recently to participate in the Denim Summit. He plans to travel to the Des Moines office from San Francisco three or four time a year now. 

What factors led you to choose Des Moines for another office location? 
Certainly [the Global Insurance Symposium] was the first introduction, but as I continued to come back, we also got a client here, and we’re growing that. Obviously the [lower] cost of living here is a big deal; having a lot of talent here in the insurance industry is important. And we love the business climate. It’s one of the only places I’ve gone to where you have an event like the Global Insurance Symposium where the governor, insurance commissioner, all the businesses and startups are working together in a very collaborative way. 

Tell me about your product. 
We’ve built a platform that’s hosted in the cloud that helps to transform and modernize a lot of the internal systems around underwriting, rating, proposal generation — helping a carrier get all their products out to their distribution partners, mostly brokers and agents. I’ve worked in the insurance industry almost the last 20 years. We really wanted to modernize the system to help it be a lot more efficient, a lot more compelling, a lot more interesting, whereas today it’s very manual … with very outdated systems. Right now we’re focused on ancillary insurance carriers — dental, vision, life, voluntary benefit products. Also professional employer organizations and brokers [are clients]. Basically any carrier who needs to get rates to a business, we can help them to make that a better experience. 

How is Limelight staffed so far? 
We’ve really taken a very intentional approach to figure out how do we have a very successful remote workforce. We’ve looked for great talent regardless of where they’re at. But we want to have a few hubs. Even here we have a very flexible policy that allows employees to work from home. We have a shared office space in San Francisco and Des Moines, but we have a private 2,000-square-foot office space in Redding, which is about three hours north of San Francisco. We have about 25 people in our San Francisco space and about 18 in Redding. The San Francisco staff works three or four days a week in the office and spends part of the workweek working from home. 

What’s the outlook for growth? 
We have six people right now [in Des Moines]. We just started recruiting about three months ago. One of our developers just moved here from California. Another of our project managers is half-time here and half-time in New York, and we hired four people here. We’ve got about 20 openings right now and we’re actively recruiting. We’d love to continue to staff here. Then over the next year we’re looking at closing on another round of funding and we’re forecasting to hire about 100 people. We’re looking for the right talent. We think that Des Moines plays a big part. We want to figure out not only how to find the right talent here, but also find ways we can give back to the community.