2024 Request for Startups (RFS)

January 11, 2024
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Request for Startups (RFS) is our annual call for innovators in the employment tech space. This year we'll cover ideas ranging from B2B fintech, HR tech to benefits and insurance.

Today, we're excited to announce our second Request for Startups (RFS) — our annual call for innovators in the employment tech space. In last year’s RFS, we focused on workplace connectivity, financial savings, and ancillary benefits. This year, we're expanding our scope to include HR tech, compliance, B2B fintech, and insurance. We will discuss the gaps and potential for innovation we see and invite tech leaders to collaborate in these areas.

No matter which vertical you work in, it is evident that 2023 was a turbulent time for the tech industry. CFOs are still pushing for a reduction in software spending by 10%-30%. If a technology isn't essential or lacks a clear return on investment (ROI), its budget share is at risk. This especially affects HR, fintech, and benefits products. These products often work with fixed budgets that can shrink during team and cost restructuring.

But, amidst the gloom, there’s a silver lining. Generative AI and workflow automation are creating new possibilities for innovators. In fact, AI tops the spending priorities for nearly 50% of top CIOs and CTOs in the coming year.

This increase in the AI budget makes sense when considering the returns. For example, HR teams can use generative AI to automate leave processing, documentation, and report generation. Operations teams can benefit too, with generative AI automating routine tasks like data entry, analysis, and scheduling.

But there's more to explore. As the complexity of operational tech stacks grows, AI-powered workflow automation becomes a significant opportunity. Our survey of over 1,000 HR professionals reveals that companies on average use 6-7 employment systems daily. Building solutions that work across these systems can unlock substantial cost and time savings.

Startups that harness AI in novel, scalable ways can meet the rising demand and enable higher efficiency for HR, finance, and benefits professionals.


  1. Benefits enablement — Choosing benefits can be daunting for employees with little experience navigating through plans and offerings. To make matters worse, 54% of employers offer access to benefits on different platforms, adding to the complexity of enrolling. Benefits administrators and brokers could utilize a tool that pulls employee data and generates educational content that summarizes different plans based on their profiles. This solution would reduce admin work and increase employee enrollment in high-impact benefits programs.
  2. Contribution optimizer — The emergence of student loan benefits, increased 401(k) contribution limit, and rise of HSAs give employees more ways to achieve financial stability. However, it’s not always clear how much to contribute to each of these benefits to achieve different financial goals. An embeddable recommendation engine that ingests payroll data could help direct funds across benefits and increase utilization across an entire organization.
  3. Combined health and financial benefits —  More than half of U.S. adults said they delayed getting medical attention in the past year due to an affordability concern. A majority of employees face potential out-of-pocket exposure greater than their household savings. Yet, high inflation in the cost of employer-sponsored health benefits is making it harder to offer high-quality healthcare at an affordable price. With 360° integrations to payroll systems, health and financial benefits platforms can bring more customization and configurability to employee health benefits while keeping administrative costs low — like in the case of Thatch and TempoPay.

HR Tech

  1. Streamlined onboardingCompanies spend on average $400 worth of people hours on paperwork and administrative costs. Creating a product that can autofill forms, guide new employees through a customized onboarding journey, and proactively notify HR admins of necessary approvals can eliminate the tedious manual work and reduce the likelihood of costly errors.
  2. Personalized learning and development — Training is an essential driver of a productive organization. However, employer-assigned workforce training can take an average of 62 hours to complete and cost $1,207 per employee per year. Building training materials and surfacing them to the right individuals is a complex process that requires constant adjustments. A platform that can generate training material, consolidate it into personalized development paths, and automatically trigger new training modules based on promotions, job title changes, and tenure could lead to higher employee productivity and engagement.

Tax & Compliance

  1. Curated compliance training — While employees already spend an average of 11 hours annually on compliance training, organizations are aiming to boost this further by 38%. The challenge here lies in ensuring that time invested correlates with risk reduction. An effective solution would integrate internal company practices with regulatory requirements to generate pertinent and engaging compliance content. This not only decreases the hours spent on training but also mitigates compliance risks, providing a more impactful approach to workforce compliance.
  2. Automated policy generation — Navigating reporting requirements and internal policies becomes increasingly complex at employee milestones such as 10, 20, 50, and 100. To alleviate the burden on resources, companies would benefit from a proactive solution that automatically generates policies and forms (such as EEO-1, FMLA, etc.) based on the changing dynamics of employee growth and organizational complexity. This approach would minimize the administrative effort of creating these documents from scratch, offering a more streamlined and efficient process with limited lapses in compliance.

B2B Fintech

  1. Commission scenario builder — Effective commission management is vital for a successful Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy. With commission rates spanning 5% to 40%, a well-structured system is key. Many decision-makers currently rely on static spreadsheets. Having a comprehensive tool that combines team composition and sales records with scenario plans would help inform on how best to incentivize their teams without breaking the bank.
  2. Meeting cost calculator — No one likes unproductive meetings. And there’s a real cost to consider — US businesses waste $37B worth of resources on unproductive meetings every year. Quantifying this cost with payroll and calendar data could drive greater urgency and shape strategic decisions on how the team spends time, from the line manager to top executives.


  1. Virtual agents — Insurance is mostly sold through 881,500 licensed agencies and brokers. Many of these individuals run manual processes and are limited by the time they have to help customers get quotes and adjust policies. They could be more efficient with their time if there were a solution that helped summarize different policies, address quote questions, and autofill forms that are done manually.
  2. Worker’s Comp Class Code validation — Worker’s compensation is often mandatory for any company with employees in the US. Worker’s compensation class codes are a necessary data point for underwriting. But there are over 700 of them and manually filling them out is left to a policyholder. Mapping these codes against job titles within HR and payroll systems could help carriers infer risk more accurately without manual work from their customers.

If you’re building something related to any of the above (or thinking of doing so), sign up for Finch to build your MVP. We’re always looking to help innovators address crucial problems across the ecosystem and get to market faster! Contact us.

97% of HR professionals say it’s important for your app to integrate with their employment systems

Learn more in our State of Employment Technology report ->

97% of HR professionals say it’s important for your app to integrate with their employment systems

Download the report to learn more

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