GoHealth Headquarters: Chicago Founders: Brandon Cruz, Clint Jones Launched: 2001
In 2001, Brandon Cruz and a college friend, Clint Jones, both now 35, wanted to buy health insurance but found the whole process nightmarishly archaic. That gave them a business idea.
They each threw in $5,000 and launched Norvax, an online platform that lets health insurance brokers and agents compare prices for clients. In 2009, after the introduction of Affordable Care Act, it became clear that consumers would soon be doing some of that shopping themselves. Norvax rebranded as a consumer site, GoHealth, and became a place where individuals can go to compare plans before they talk to an agent -- or simply purchase one directly on the site.
"We can typically acquire a customer for an insurance company for half what it costs them to do it on their own," Cruz says.
Investors like GoHealth's vision. The company is profitable and just raised $50 million from Norwest Equity Partners for expansion. Sales rose 50% last year, and Cruz expects similar growth this year.
There's another trend GoHealth hopes to cash in on: the rise of "private exchanges," a model under which companies kick in a chunk of cash and let employees use it to buy their own insurance. GoHealth thinks more of those employer-run exchanges are coming -- and it wants to power them.
"We are already integrated with nearly every major insurance company out there," Cruz says.