Limelight Health—Making Insurance a Little Easier
By Jordan Venema
By Jordan Venema
Photos by James Mazzotta
Small business owners know what it’s like to navigate the miry, murky waters of insurance, and that compared to the practical needs of employees, the remote realm of insurance carriers and brokers seems like from another world. Yet for many local small business owners, the bridge connecting them to many national insurance carriers was built right here in their backyard. In 2014, Redding residents Alan Leard and Garrett Viggers launched Limelight Health, insurance quoting technology that connects employers and employees directly to their insurance needs while simplifying the process. Long before the pair launched the multi-million dollar platform, Leard and Viggers had been living in their separate circles in Redding until their paths crossed almost by chance.
“Long story short,” says Viggers, “I’ve been a local musician in Redding for about 13 years, and I met Alan playing music in his store.”
While performing at the now-closed Vintner’s Cellar in Redding, Viggers met Leard, who also builds mobile apps.
“So I said, ‘Dude, why don’t we build an app that features artists in Redding – musicians, painters, photographers, filmmakers?’”
They built that first app for fun, but it was the beginning of a tech partnership that would evolve to create Limelight Health.
Then in 2010, with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, Viggers and Leard decided to build an app specifically to help users navigate Covered California.
“It was a really complicated process and I wanted to make it simple on a mobile phone,” explains Viggers.
Diving into the world of insurance required a business shift for the partners, who formally launched Windfall App Technologies, for which they began seeking funding.
“We had no revenue, and didn’t know where it was going to go – we just made an app about Obamacare,” says Viggers.
So the pair introduced the app to their future partner, Michael Lujan, who worked for Covered California.
“He was the number two running sales and marketing, and he ended up leaving Covered California,” explains Viggers. Lujan in turn introduced Leard and Viggers to Jason Andrew, who would become their CEO, “and essentially we got together and formed Limelight Health and formally launched in 2014.”
According to Viggers, many people in the United States get their insurance through small employers, so the idea behind Limelight “was to build the machine to efficiently and quickly calculate rates and show benefits” – dental, vision, health, you name it.
Think of Limelight like the agent working behind the agent, on behalf of small businesses. It’s fitting, then, that the company got its start in a small community, and even received early funding from local investors like Shasta Angels, which allowed them to innovate quoting tools for platforms like the iPad.
“We launched the first native iPad health insurance quoting tool,” says Viggers. From there, Limelight began selling its product to brokers, then expanded by selling directly to insurance carriers. They even presented to a worldwide insurance carrier
Today, Limelight is powering, quoting and underwriting for some of the largest insurance carriers, not just in the United States but in the world.
To hear Viggers talk about insurance and Limelight, it would be easy to forget that he’s a musician. He admits that music has taken something of a back seat since they began building apps, but he doesn’t expect that to last.
“I’ve been in a cave a bit,” he says, adding that Limelight has become his outlet. Easy to understand since the company has grown to 75 employees between Redding and San Francisco, and has Viggers traveling across
“But I’m going to get back to music and film once we get acquired,” says Viggers. The goal, he adds, “is to bless my family,” but he’s also already thinking about future projects.
“I’ve learned about business, and now I can go back to music with a totally different approach,” says Viggers. “I’m already planning this next season of life. I was a musician, an artist, didn’t make a living, was totally broke. Then went in, started this thing, didn’t know what I was doing, and sold stuff that didn’t yet exist.”
He is hoping he might be able to use that experience to help other artists and musicians in Redding, and perhaps even start other creative ventures in the future.
“I want to start a fusion of the creative and the entrepreneur and the patron of the arts. Here in Redding,” he continues, “we’ve got a lot of potential.”
Limelight Health • Limelighthealth.com